By Jay Mwamba
Defending champs bid farewell to the World Cup after succumbing 2-0 to
Denmark in Group A. Dennis Rommedahl (22nd) and Jon Dahl (Tomasson 67th) connected for the Danes (7) who won the group.
Runners-up Senegal led Uruguay 3-0 at halftime but unraveled in the
second half before settling for a 3-3 tie.
Earlier, France eked out their first point in Group A from a bruising 0-0 tie with Uruguay in Busan. France finished with 10-men after the expulsion of Thierry Henry (25th).
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Denmark and surprise package Senegal, joint leaders in Group A after the second round of matches, tied 1-1 in D’gu. Jon Dahl Tomasson (16th) shot the Danes ahead from the penalty spot before Liverpool-bound Salif Diao, who was later red-carded, leveled in the 52nd minute.
Also in D’gu, South Africa recorded its first-ever win in the finals when they pipped Slovenia 1-0 on Siyabonga Nomvete’s (4th) delightful miscue. The result ended Slovenia’s debut campaign in Group B.
South Africa’s Bafana Bafana (the Boys) can advance to the second round with a draw against Spain this morning.
The Spaniards secured a Round of 16 berth from Group B on the strength of their 3-1 romp over Paraguay in Kobe. Fernando Morientes (53rd, 69th), and Fernando Hierro (83rd pen.) connected after Charles Puyol’s own goal (10th) had put Paraguay ahead.
England roar back
England roared back to life in the “Group of Death” last Friday, defeating archrivals Argentina 1-0 in a pulsating encounter at the Sapporo Dome.
David Beckham atoned for his infamous ejection against the Argentines in England’s penalty loss in the second round of France ’98 by drilling in a 44th minute penalty for the only goal of the match. The spot kick was awarded for a foul on the South Americans’ chief tormentor, Michael Owen.
It was England’s first competitive victory over the Argies since 1966 and put them in pole position to win Group F going into this morning’s match with Nigeria.
Argentina, meanwhile, were left facing elimination before their last game, against Sweden, who had a double strike from Celtic goal-king Henrik Larsson (35th, 63rd pen.) in a 2-1 decision over the Super Eagles in Kobe. Julius Aghahowa (27th) scored for Nigeria.
Stars and Stripes
A brilliant start has put the United States on the verge of reaching the second round for the first time since 1994.
Team USA launched a sneak attack on Portugal in Kobe that yielded three first half goals through John O’Brien (4th), Jorge Costa (30th own goal), and Brian McBride (36th) in their Group D opener last Wednesday. They won 3-2 after Beto (39th) and a Jeff Agoos own goal (74th) had reduced the arrears.
On Monday, Bruce Arena’s men escaped from D’gu with a precious point from a 1-1 draw with co-hosts South Korea. Substitute Ahn Jung-Hwan (77th) canceled out Clint Mathis’ early effort (23rd). Goalie Brad Friedel saved a Lee Eul-Yong penalty (39th) in the thriller.
Portugal rebounded from Wednesday’s defeat to thrash Poland 4-0 in Jeonju, on Pedro Pauleta’s hat trick (13th, 64th, 76th) and a late strike by Rui Costa (87th).
Poland, beaten 2-0 by Korea last week and now out of the running, meet the U.S. on Friday with the Americans needing just a point to advance.
Roberto Carlos (15th), Rivaldo (32nd), Ronaldinho (45th pen.) and Ronaldo (55th) put Brazil in the second round with a 4-0 romp over China in Cheju in Group C. China’s second defeat in the finals knocked them out of the tournament.
In Inchon, Costa Rica had a late Winston Parks goal (86th) to thank for a 1-all tie with Turkey, whose Emre Belozoglu (56th) tallied. A draw against Brazil in Suwon tomorrow will see Costa Rica through.
Italy were left venting their ire against English referee Graham Poll for disallowing two goals in a dramatic 2-1 collapse to Croatia in Ibaraki.
The Group G favorites led through Christian Vieri (55th) but allowed Ivica Olic (73rd) and Milan Rapaic (76th) to steal it for the Croats.
Italy need to beat Mexico in Oita tomorrow to avoid elimination. The Mexicans came from behind on goals by Jared Borgetti (28th) and Gerardo Torrado (57th) to beat Ecuador 2-1 in Miyagi. This, after Agustin Delgado (5th) had struck for the Andean debutantes.
One fan was stabbed and scores injured in rioting in Moscow last Sunday sparked by Japan’s 1-0 win over Russia in a Group H fixture in Yokohama.
Junichi Inamoto (51st) produced Japan’s first ever World Cup win.
Earlier in Kobe, Russia had shut out Tunisia 2-0 last Wednesday on goals by Yegor Titov (59th) and Valery Karpin (64th pen.).
Japan can advance to the second round with a win over Tunisia in Osaka on Friday, while Russia need to beat Belgium in Shizuoka on the same day.
The North Africans and Belgium tied 1-1 in Oita on Monday, with the former’s Raouf Bouazaine (17th) pegging back Marc Wilmots’ icebreaker (13th).