27 June 1998
ITALY 1-0 NORWAY
Not surprisingly a counter attack by Italy secured a place in the Quarter Finals.
Vieri ran onto Di Biagios perfect through pass and screwed his shot into the
corner of the net.
Norway dominated possession but Italy created more goalscoring chances on the
counter attack. Del Piero should have scored twice but clearly he is not the same
player he was before the injury he picked up at the end of the season. Cannavaro
was my pick for man of the match, he superbly shackled Tore Andre Flo and was
a rock in defence. Pagliuca made one of his trademark impossible saves but other
than claiming crosses had little else to do. Di Biagio and Vieri were also excellent.
The rest of the Italian team were average. Albertini again was breathtakingly awful
and Maldini had one of his poorest games for the Azzurri. Norway played far too
many crosses in the box and would have been more productive if they passed the
ball in and around the penalty box. A lack of creativity in midfield and pace in
attack are the only weaknesses in the Norway team. Italy, as in the last World Cup,
are once again relying on individual brilliance as opposed to a collective team unit.
For all the hype surrounding Baggio and Del Piero it is Vieri who is carrying the
Attendance : 60,000
BRAZIL 4-1 CHILE
Sampaio 10, 26 Salas 67
Ronaldo 47 (pen), 69
Two goals apiece from Sampaio and Ronaldo sealed a comfortable win for Brazil.
Sampaios first was a header from Dungas free kick, the second again as the result
of a free kick, a ball trickled accross the box after a deflection off Bebeto, Sampaio
supplied the tap-in. Ronaldo converted a penalty after being fouled by Tapia and
scored with his trademark finish when put through by Denilson. Salas headed in a
rebound after Taffarel parried out Zamoranos header.
Ronaldo hit the crossbar and post, Sampaio was also inches away from completing
a hat-trick. Brazil could have easily doubled their lead but seemed content at 4-1.
An easy victory over a two-man team, if Chile had a defender and midfielder to go
along with their World Class strikers they would be a phenomenal side.
Attendance : 48,000
28 June 1998
FRANCE 1-0 PARAGUAY
Pires crossed, Trezeguet headed the ball down and Blancs Golden Goal broke
the deadlock and Paraguayan resolve.
A very, very poor performance by the French. Before the tournament began many
people claimed that France lack of a World Class striker and this game clearly
underlined that fact. Trezeguet missed a simple chance in the second half, Henry
hit the post. Deschamps and Diomede were worse than terrible. Despite a few
dodgy yellow cards the ref had a great game and constantly ignored the diving
by Djorkaeff, Diomede and co, good job that the World Cup doesnt suffer from
the same standard of awful refereeing in Serie A. The entire Paraguayan defence
were World Class, rarely have I seen such a high standard of tackling. Chilavert
was rarely tested.
Attendance : 41,275
DENMARK 4-1 NIGERIA
Moeller 3 Babangida 76
B Laudrup 11
Denmarks first goal was typical of slick football they played today. Brilliant long
pass from Jorgensen, Michael Laudrup with a rude flick and Moeller with a powerful
first time finish. Moellers free kick was superbly saved by Rufai but Brian Laudrup
tapped in the rebound. Sand scored seconds after coming on a sub, Michael Laudrup
lifted the ball into the box, Sand headed over West and then half volleyed past
Rufai. Rufai spilled a tame shot, Sand was first to react, passed to Jorgensen and
he passed to Helveg who smashed the ball into the roof of the net, another nice
one touch passing move. Finidi George made one his trademark runs down the
wing, crossed into the box and Babangida hit a low volley past Schmeichel.
Surprising to see Denmark take the game to Nigeria, they were well worth their
4-1 victory although the goalkeeper gifted them one goal and also made several
other treacherous mistakes. Michael Laudrups passing and vision are unparalleled
in this World Cup thus far, two beautiful assists. Needless to say Nigeria were
abysmal. West and Uche are good defenders individually but as a unit theyre non
existent. Nigeria were awful in defence and didnt press in midfield. Okocha is a
human highlight reel, some incredible circus tricks but ultimately un-productive,
if he could finish . . . .
Attendance : 80,000
29 June 1998
GERMANY 2-1 MEXICO
Klinsmann 74 Hernandez 46
Hernandez danced his way though a crowded penalty area, drew out Kopke
and scored in an empty net, fantastic quick feet. Bierhoff headed down a cross,
the ball hit Lara and Klinsmann slid in for the inevitable equaliser and the
inevitable winner followed courtesy of a trademark Bierhoff header.
After an even first half in which Bierhoff missed an absolute sitter Mexico had the
better of the play and deservedly took the lead. Matthaus almost scored an own
goal under pressure from Arellano and Hernandez shot straight at Kopke from the
rebound. Bierhoff and Hernandez should have had hat-tricks. Kopke was terrible
and I cant understand why Kahn isnt in goal for the Germans. Matthaus was
sensational in defence. Incredible, dramatic game of football. I stopped thinking
Germany were lucky a long time ago, they have an old team, lack technique and
pace but the one quality they have in abundance is king size balls. From now on
I will give a rating to the ref.
Attendance : 35,500
Ref Rating : Excellent
HOLLAND 2-1 YUGOSLAVIA
Bergkamp 37 Komljenovic 47
Bergkamp ran onto Ronald De Boers long pass, bundled over Mirkovic and shot
past Kralj. Komljenovic headed in Mihajlovics cross at the near post and I mean
that literally. Awful, awful defending. Minutes later Yugoslavia were awarded a
penalty when Stam pulled Jogovics shirt, finally a ref does something about shirt
pulling. Mijatovic lashed the penalty against the crossbar the first missed penalty
in normal time for over 35 World Cup games. Komljenovic deflected Davids drive
past Kralj in injury time.
A poor game. Holland were the only team making an effort in the first half. Once
Yugoslavia equalised Holland completely lost their shape until the last 10 minutes
when they piled forward. Bergkamp should have been sent off for stamping on
Mihajlovic, incredibly one of the linesman was inches from the incident and did
Attendance : 37,500
Ref Rating : Excellent
30 June 1998
CROATIA 1-0 ROMANIA
Suker 46 (pen)
Croatia won a penalty when Asanovic dived in the box. Suker scored from the spot
but had to re-take the kick because Boban ran into the box, same result Suker
For the first 15 minutes this looked like a World Cup classic, Stelea made a hat-trick
of point blank saves and Romania were also piling forward, then I fell asleep
(I mean that literally) for only the third time in this tournament. Romania failed to
trouble Ladic in the Croatian goal and Croatia were only denied an emphatic win by
the goalkeeping of Stelea and poor finishing.
Attendance : 35,000
Ref Rating : Poor - It was never a penalty and favoured Croatia
ARGENTINA 2-2 ENGLAND
Batistuta 5 (Pen) Shearer 9 (Pen)
Zanetti 45 Owen 15
Argentina win 4-3 on penalties
Batistuta and Shearer scored penalties after dives by Simeone and Owen
respectively. Owen ran onto Beckhams through ball thanks to a great first touch,
surged past Chamot, rounded Ayala and blasted the ball into the top left corner of
the net, great goal. The equaliser arrived on the stroke of half time from a free kick,
dive again via Simeone. Veron played the ball in the box, Zanetti broke out from
behind the wall, controlled the ball with his right foot, turned and shot with his left
high into the net. Another fantastic goal. Beckham was sent off for kicking Simeone
after he himself had been floored by Simeones shoulder barge. England had a goal
disallowed for a foul on the keeper.
Argentina : Berti, Crespo (miss), Veron, Gallardo, Ayala
England : Shearer, Ince (miss), Merson, Owen, Batty (miss)
England were more menacing in attack, Owen was terrorising the Argentinean
defence until Beckhams red card changed the face of the game. The England
team lost confidence and for the remainder of the match sat back, defended
brilliantly but rarely threatened on the counter attack. As those who follow the
Premiership will verify (unless youre a Man United supporter), Beckham has a habit
of kicking out at players and diving. If you ask me it all goes back to the days of
Cantona. He set a terrible example to the young players in the squad with his
reckless violence and Ferguson never chastised him. This set a precedent for the
team as evidenced by the behaviour of Beckham, Butt and Scholes this past season.
Attendance : 36,000
Ref Rating : Poor - Two non penalties, Simeone should also have been shown the
red card for a leaping shoulder barge on Beckham.