World Cup -- Italy Plays 1 Short, But Wins -- Goalkeeper Gets Red Card, But Baggio Saves The Day
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Short-handed Italy, in a must-win situation, did precisely that at the World Cup.
And they did it with grit and guile and with a backup goalkeeper. Oh yeah, the world's best player also was sitting on the bench, put there by Coach Arrigo Sacchi yesterday in a strange strategic move that worked.
Italy beat Norway 1-0 on a goal by Dino Baggio in the 69th minute. The Italians played the final 78 minutes with 10 men after goalie Gianluca Pagliuca was ejected for a hand save outside the penalty area.
"I realized I was out of the penalty area, but I had no choice," said Pagliuca, who made the Italian squad despite a bad automobile accident in May 1993. "It was important to avoid Norway scoring. I could not think if it was better to avoid the goal or ejection. I thought of stopping the ball."
Oyvind Leonhardsen was coming in alone just outside the penalty area in one of the few offensive forays by Norway. Even when the Norwegians were up a man, they rarely attacked.
"I am incredibly disappointed," said goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt. "This was a unique chance. We should have at least had a draw. It was almost embarrassing to lose a game like this. So we just have to calm down and look at what we did."
What No. 2 goalie Luca Marchegiani did was prove he can handle the most dire circumstances.
"I entered the field in the worst situation, on a free kick from the penalty area edge," Marchegiani said. "It was an enormous, sudden emotion, because I was watching the game as a spectator and I was not ready psychologically to become a protagonist in a few seconds' time."
Sacchi opted to pull Roberto Baggio, the 1993 player of the year, when Pagliuca was ejected. That shocked his star player, who has been bothered by a sore Achilles tendon.
"I could not believe it when I was called out," Roberto Baggio said. "I thought they had given the wrong numbers. I had never been substituted in such circumstances.
"I could not jump for joy for being substituted, but I'm happy for the team victory, which gives us a lot of morale."
Baresi to have surgery
Italian captain Franco Baresi, injured in Thursday's win over Norway, will have surgery today to repair damaged knee cartilage, team spokesman Antonello Valentini said.
Valentini said he did not know how long the recovery would take but the operation makes it certain that defender Baresi, who won his 79th cap against Norway, will play no further part in the World Cup.
South Korea 0, Bolivia 0
FOXBORO, Mass. - The South Korea-Bolivia match was the first scoreless game of the tournament.
The Bolivians had another player receive a red card - Luis Cristaldo was ejected. Striker Marco Etcheverry missed the game as he began a two-match suspension for getting a red card in the opener against Germany.
Neither South Korea nor Bolivia has ever won a World Cup game.
-- Italy now has three points in Group E, the most difficult division. A win over Mexico on Tuesday would assure the Azzurri of a trip to the second round.
Norway also has three points and plays Ireland in its next game.
-- The U.S. team, following its 2-1 upset of Colombia, enjoyed unusual status yesterday as celebrities.
"It took 50 years for the NFL to get where it is," goalkeeper Tony Meola said. "People talk about how the NHL took 70 years to get to where it is now. When I picked up the papers today and saw soccer ahead of the NBA Finals, I was really surprised."
-- Romania's Ian Vladoiu was suspended for three games for a blatant foul against Switzerland in Wednesday's game.
The disciplinary committee of FIFA imposed the stiff penalty after Vladoiu ran into Swiss midfielder Christophe Ohrel and immediately was given a red card by referee Noja Jouini of Tunisia.
In addition to Vladiou's suspension, which begins with Sunday's game against the United States, the Romanian soccer federation was fined $5,500. -- Midfielder Claudio Reyna, the U.S. college player of the year in 1992 and 1993, will miss the entire World Cup tournament because of a hamstring tear. U.S. trainer Andy Rudawsky said that Reyna, 20, the youngest player on the team, still hadn't recovered from the injury to his right leg. He was hurt during practice June 8.
-- England, the birthplace of soccer, has taken notice of the U.S. victory over Colombia: One of Britain's biggest betting chains shortened the odds of a U.S. World Cup tournament victory from 100-1 to 33-1.
-- Colombia Coach Francisco Maturana took the blame for his country's disastrous World Cup and confirmed he would step down after the team's final match.
"The responsibility is entirely mine," he told reporters at a tense news conference.
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