Group D
12 June 1998


The highlights saw Stoichkov hitting a post and a great free kick from Chilavert.
Some good approach play let down by awful delivery from the final ball. Both
teams suffered from a chronic lack of pace.

Attendance : 27,700
Red Card(s) : Nankov 89 (Bulgaria)

13 June 1998

Hierro 21						Adepoju 25
Raul 47							Lawal 73
Oliseh 78 

Spain made an excellent start, Raul went close to giving them the lead twice in
the first 10 minutes. Hierro’s free kick deflected off Alfonso past a helpless Rufai.
1-0. Nigeria, who were being played off the park, grabbed an equaliser from a
corner, Adepoju’s fiercely struck header was headed past Zubizaretta by Ferrer,
if anyone knows why Spain’s shortest player was guarding the back post let me
know. Spain restored their lead early in the second half, Raul with a breathtaking
volley from a magnificent 40yd pass from Hierro. Yekini’s appearance as
substitute turned the match for Nigeria, Okocha sprayed a superb crossfield pass
to Lawal, he played a one to with Yekini and Zubizaretta punched Lawal’s tamely
hit shot into his own net. Minutes later Okocha’s throw in was headed out by
Hierro but Oliseh was on hand to send a blistering half volley crashing in off the
post. Another comeback win for the Nigerians who seem to have developed the
German never say die attitude. Other than scoring a goal, Raul had a terrible
game, missing some decent chances and his crossing was terrible. Spain choked
once again, it will be interesting to see how they react if a similar situation arises
or remain true to type.

Attendance : 33,257

19 June 1998

Ikpeba 26

A fantastic 10 man passing move resulted in Ikpeba’s winning goal, Amokachi’s
back heel found Ikpeba who sold a fantastic dummy to a defender before slotting
the ball under the keeper’s legs, almost identical to McCarthy’s goal for South

Nigeria played some wonderful football until midway through the second half when
they decided to sit on their lead and it almost proved costly.

Attendance : 48,000


A nervous performance by Spain, a team clearly devoid of confidence following
their defeat by Nigeria. Paraguay’s main threat on the counter attack was Benitez.

Attendance : 30,000

24 June 1998

Hierro 5 (pen)						Kostadinov 56 
Luis Enrique 17 
Morientes 52, 80 
Kiko 88, 90

Enrique took a dive in the box, Hierro converted the penalty. Etxeberria latched
onto Balakov’s hospital pass, exchanged passes with Luis Enrique and Enrique
slotted the ball into the corner. A slick passing move, started by Morientes’s
beautiful back heel was finished off by Morientes himself, Luis Enrique with the
final pass, fabulous goal. Zafirov dispossessed Sergi, passed to Kostadinov who
turned and crashed his shot in off the post. Pressing by Guerro lead to Spain’s
fourth, Raul with the final pass to Morientes. Kiko’s header from a corner bounced
off Bulgaria’s keeper then off Batchev into the net. Kiko punished more slack
defending late on.

Too little, too late from Spain. Some of the passing movements were simply
breathtaking, unparalleled in this World Cup. Clemente’s decision to persist with
Grandad Zubizarreta and Raul, who had a terrible season for Real Madrid will
come back to haunt him. Morientes had a fantastic season for Real and his
performances for the national team prior to the World Cup should have
guaranteed him a starting place. Spain now have a World Class attack, what
they lack is a good defence and by the time the next World Cup arrives key
midfielders Luis Enrique and Hierro will be the wrong side of 30. Spain have blown
their best chance to date of winning the World Cup.

Attendance : 41,275

Ayala 50 secs						Oruma 11
Benitez 59 
Cardoso 86 

Paraguay kicked off, went downfield won a free kick and Ayala powerfully headed
home Arce’s free kick. Babangida made one of his trademark runs into the box and
as he was tackled the loose ball was drilled in by Oruma. Brizuela had a goal
disallowed for offside, shame because it was a fantastic piece of one touch
passing. Benitez smashed in a shot from outside the box and Cardoso completed
a dramatic victory when capitalising on treacherous goalkeeping by Rufai.

Nigeria may have sent out a B team but Paraguay did show that they can be a
decent side when they make an effort. Should be an interesting match against

Attendance : 37,500