Group matches at France 98 played on Saturday, 20th June.
Belgium vs Mexico in Bordeaux (2:2).
Holland vs South Korea in Marseilles (5:0).
Japan vs Croatia in Nantes (0:1).
The Japanese fans found out about ticker tape from the
Argentineans, in their previous game, and their players seemed to have cottoned on to
shirt pulling too.
A thirteenth minute free-kick by Suker curled past the top right hand
In answer to that, the Japanese number three, Naoki Soma, almost
scored Japan's first World Cup finals goal at the other end.
Stanic wasted a golden chance in the nineteenth minute. Again the
Japanese tried to reply, but Nakata was not so good today either.
A minute later, a Japanese free-kick was lifted over the wall and a
nippy little Shoji Jo rounded the Croats to receive the ball on his head; knocked on too
far under pressure from Ladic, the Croatian goalkeeper.
The first corner for Croatia came on the half-hour. Both sides gave
away possession needlessly and let the others in with a run on goal.
From all of these half chances, Suker came closest; the penalty appeal
rightly turned down.
An entertaining first-half, despite the scoreline.
The Croats looked very disorganised at the start of the second-half.
When the blue shirts were too far up, Kawaguchi came right out of his
area to head clear.
Up front for Japan, Jo should have scored, but none of the team moaned
The Japanese gained strength as the match wore on and the Croats
started to wilt. Okano, the Japanese substitute, tried to look lively on both wings, with
his mane flying left and right, but stood like a pansy in a flower box when a real chance
was crossed into the area for him.
Nothing seemed to go right for Suker either, a tempting lob on the bar
was the closest he came for all his efforts to send a shiver up the watching Glenn Hoddle;
England may well have to face Croatia.
At last, relief for Suker and another mental note for Hoddle. The
Croatian captain took a deep cross on his left foot, in the 76th minute, and fired in; off
the unfortunate goalkeeper's hand.
Our Man of the Match:
Thirty seven degrees in Bordeaux and a hot match to go with it.
Oliveira found himself engulfed by Mexico, when he had his first
half-chance in the fourth minute; as Belgium started more positively than they did against
A corner to Mexico in the ninth minute. Sanchez headed against the bar
and, with De Wilde on the floor, Hernandez tried to struggle the loose ball across the
line; hoofed away by Danny Boffin.
Sanchez was quickly called upon to keep out the Belgians at the other
A sizzling first fifteen minutes.
Blanco changed his boots, around the 26th minute, like a tennis player
changes rackets. And two minutes later the Mexicans were down to ten men; Prado was shown
the red card, for a sliding challenge from behind on Borkelmans.
Even with eleven men, Mexico could have done little about the Belgian
goal. A curling corner from Oliveira dipped over the rising defenders; to be thighed in by
From the restart Wilmots was on a buzz. Scifo laid a square-ball to
Wilmots and the Schalke midfielder ploughed through the Mexican defense; slamming the ball
home, to the right while stumbling.
Seven minutes later and drama in the Belgian area. Blanco threaded a
ball through to Ramirez, who was tripped by Verheyen; red card number two. Garcia Aspe
slotted the penalty to the right.
Mexico were back in the game; only one goal down and both teams a man
short. The Mexicans had the momentum and the heat wasn't affecting them.
A fast, fluid Mexican raid ended with a cross from Ramirez and a
flying scissor volley; into the back of the net by Blanco. What a star this man is.
Gordan Vidovic brought down Hernandez on the right wing and in the
heat of the moment could have expected the worst. The Belgian number four sat resigned on
the floor; relief on his face when he was only booked.
De Wilde scrambled a save in the final minutes to keep hold of a point
Belgium 2 - Mexico
Our Man of the Match:
Dennis Bergkamp must have seen Blanco change his boots and return
to score a stunning goal, in the earlier game, and decided to change his shorts on the
It seemed to work: a minute later an unsighted Byung Ji Kim saved well
from the flying Dutchman. Shortly after, super shorts received a one-two and floated the
ball narrowly over the bar.
The Dutch fans did not have much to sing about for the first 30
minutes in Marseilles; as the Koreans do a good job of frustrating teams and silencing
Bergkamp appealed to the referee for being held back; the man in black
seemed to have fallen asleep too.
Out of nothing, Cocu cracked a shot from the D, in the 36th minute.
Byung Ji Kim had feet of concrete and didn't move; even the fans in orange couldn't
Five minutes later, with all the Koreans up for a free kick near the
Dutch goal-line, the Dutch broke out three against two. Overmars turned, inside Sung Yong
Choi, and claimed the second for Holland.
The members of the Dutch brass band were having a little more fun,
early in the second-half; striking up a few bars of the Can-Can.
Korea needed a minimum of two goals to stay in the tournament.
Although they tried valiantly, the hill was too high to climb. At least they are already
guaranteed of a place in the 2002 World Cup finals as co-hosts with Japan.
The Dutch started some possession football. Across the pitch to Aron
Winter and through to Dennis Bergkamp.
Min Sung Lee cut out the ball, but was easily robbed by Bergkamp, who
turned and dribbled through three defenders; like a teacher with enthusiastic
schoolchildren on the chase.
Another Lee entered the arena, with a look of total horror on his
face. What was the nineteen year-old supposed to do?
Van Hooijdonk came on for Bergkamp and headed in a cross from Overmars
in the 79th minute.
Two minutes later Ronald de Boer completed the rout.
Holland 5 -
South Korea 0
Brazil, Morocco, Norway, Scotland.
Austria, Cameroon, Chile, Italy.
Denmark, France, Saudi Arabia, South Africa.
Bulgaria, Nigeria, Paraguay, Spain.
Belgium, Holland, Mexico, South Korea.
Germany, Iran, United States, Yugoslavia.
Colombia, England, Romania, Tunisia.
Argentina, Croatia, Jamaica, Japan.
1998 World Cup Finals -
Group Tables - Leading
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