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World Cup Finals Blog Home: World Cup Finals: France 1998: Match Schedule: Day 3

The World United Through Football
Group matches at France 98 played on Friday, 12th June.

Travel to France France vs Travel to South Africa South Africa in Marseilles (3:0).

Travel to Paraguay Paraguay vs Travel to Bulgaria Bulgaria in Montpellier (0:0).

Travel to Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia vs Travel to Denmark Denmark in Lens (0:1).

Paraguay vs Bulgaria in Montpellier: (14:30)

Stoichkov shined early on a sunny afternoon in Montpellier. The Bulgarian started full of self-belief and on a mission for an early goal.

While Stiochkov was proving a headache; picking up balls from the midfield, and knocks from the Paraguayan defenders around the penalty area, Bulgaria's Balakov received a head-wound in the 16th minute; from Ayala's elbow.

The number 10 returned to the pitch with his head fully bandaged and continued the crusade.

In the 26th minute, Paraguay's Acuna curled in a beautifully dipping ball, but the Bulgarian goalkeeper was easily down to it.

Just as the game seemed to lull, and lazy fouling seemed the order, Stoichkov cracked onto a poor clearance from the Latin American pretenders and thundered a shot against the bottom of the post. Chilavert didn't seem interested; more to the point, he didn't see it!

Jankov's free kick, five minutes from half-time, did have Chilavert reaching though.

Moments later Cardozzo only had the Bulgarian keeper to beat at the other end, but fired wide; from the edge of the area.

Half-time: (0:0).

In the second half, Balakov played without the head holster and continued to apply the pressure with Iliev, Penev, and Stoichkov.

Around the 65th minute, Stoichkov worked down the left again, and pulled the ball back for Penev. The number 9 wasted the chance by lifting it high, and was soon substituted.

Campos was downed by Ivanov, as he made a break for goal in the 73rd minute.

This was the chance for Chilavert, the flamboyant Paraguayan goalkeeper, to come up to take the free-kick and entertain the fans.

Luckily for him, the deflection gave him time to return to his own goalmouth; while the corner was being taken.

Stoichkov was soon there with the ball too, and almost punished him.

The Paraguayans had their chances too, especially in the closing minutes, but Zdravkov calmly smothering everything.

A second yellow card for Bulgaria's Nankov produced the first sending off of the tournament as the game produced another World Cup draw; sadly with no goals.

Final Score:
Travel to Paraguay Paraguay 0 - Travel to Bulgaria Bulgaria 0

Our Man of the Match:
Zdravkov.

Saudi Arabia vs Denmark in Lens: (17:30)

The Danish win the most vocal national anthem singers award to date, but they didn't have a lot to sing about after the start.

The Saudi players entered into a little ring of conference before they took their places for the kick-off.

What were they saying?
Let's make this the mother of all boring encounters.

The slow-hand clap on the quarter-hour explained the progress of this match. A Saudi fan singing prayers through a loud speaker made more sense than much of what was happening on the pitch.

Brian Laudrup and company failed to find an oasis through the wall of Saudis and, instead, showed a drought of ideas. [I have a lack of imagination too].

The Saudi keeper is very unorthodox and likes to slap at the ball like his Moroccan counterpart; only the Saudi prefers to concede corners rather than goals.

In a 41st minute free-kick, Peter Schmeichel was forced to pull out a save, but had prepared himself to deal with it relatively easily by his standards.

Corners never troubled the Manchester United number 1 either. If the Saudis had been facing Benzekri of Morocco, they might have made the score-sheet before half-time.

Half-time: (0:0).

On the hour, I thought we were going to see some football. Two end to end attacks; then sadly back to the jockeying, teasing, and wasting of balls, space, and my time. Watching a game of Subuteo would have been more fun.

A cheer went up for the entry of Tottenham's Nielsen, in the 65th minute.

Three minutes later, red flares were let off for a goal.

Denmark went in front thanks to a header from Marc Rieper of Celtic. A long lob came into the penalty area, the Danes look puzzled and the ball was rolled out to Jorgansen of Udinese, who chipped the telling cross back in.

The Danes started to look like one time European Champions but again the final touch, the scoring touch, just wasn't there.

Was this really two football teams trying to be the best in the world?

Final Score:
Travel to Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 0 - Travel to Denmark Denmark 1

Our Man of the Match:
The Drummer, who didn't pause throughout the game.

France vs South Africa in Marseilles: (21:00)

Allez, Allez; for France, this was the opening day.

Les Bleus, playing at home, could not afford to sit back like some of the other heavyweights. The French expect.

The referee showed his courage early; to wave play on when a forward running Zidane fell over himself.

The South Africans weren't intimidated either, pushing up through any openings the French were leaving.

Fast and furious, the first fifteen minutes was like wine in a desert after the drought of inspiration in the earlier Saudi Arabian debacle.

An injured Guivarc'h was replaced by Dugarry, on the half-hour.

Seven minutes later, the ecstatic Dugarry, was celebrating the header he scored from Zidane's corner.

The South Africans showed tremendous courage and spirit. The atmosphere must have been extremely overpowering, yet they kept their concentration and quietened the crowd with their surprisingly tenacious play.

Vonk seemed lucky with a save from Petit, as the ball crashed against his forearms and settled under his legs.

A second now might have killed the spirit of the South Africans.

In turn South Africa almost equalised, when Masinga headed on a free-kick just before half-time.

Half-time: (1:0).

Thirteen minutes into the second half, Deschamps was booked and a French goal disallowed; much to the disapproval of the home fans.

Deschamps, as captain, signalled to his players to button la bouche.

The South Africans continued to impress with their never-say-die attitude, their contagious desire to close down and cut out every French attack or cross, and their swift acceleration when switching to offensive.

In such an attacking game, both teams left openings. Although the South Africans passed more than well enough, the clinical finisher just wasn't there.

With less than ten minutes to go, something fell apart.

Dugarry received a ball in the penalty area and, with three defenders on his back, he managed to swivel and release a pass to Djorkaeff. Djorkaeff's shot was helped in by an unfortunate Issa. Own goal of the tournament number three.

Sadly, McCarthy was stretchered off in the dying moments of this exceptional match. What was a closely fought contest turned into a rout, as Henry picked up a loose ball, beat two players and coolly chipped the advancing South African keeper.

Final Score:
Travel to France France 3 - Travel to South Africa South Africa 0

Our Man of the Match:
The Referee.

Teams by Group

Group A
Travel to Brazil Brazil, Travel to Morocco Morocco, Travel to Norway Norway, Travel to Scotland Scotland.

Group B
Travel to Austria Austria, Travel to Cameroon Cameroon, Travel to Chile Chile, Travel to Italy Italy.

Group C
Travel to Denmark Denmark, Travel to France France, Travel to Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, Travel to South Africa South Africa.

Group D
Travel to Bulgaria Bulgaria, Travel to Nigeria Nigeria, Travel to Paraguay Paraguay, Travel to Spain Spain.

Group E
Travel to Belgium Belgium, Travel to Holland Holland, Travel to Mexico Mexico, Travel to South Korea South Korea.

Group F
Travel to Germany Germany, Travel to Iran Iran, Travel to USA United States, Travel to Serbia Yugoslavia.

Group G
Travel to Colombia Colombia, Travel to England England, Travel to Romania Romania, Travel to Tunisia Tunisia.

Group H
Travel to Argentina Argentina, Travel to Croatia Croatia, Travel to Jamaica Jamaica, Travel to Japan Japan.

The Road to the Final

1998 World Cup Finals - Knockout Stage.

Group Tables - Leading Goalscorers.

Soccer Search - Search The Web.

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Wednesday, 10th June:
Brazil vs Scotland
Morocco vs Norway

Thursday, 11th June:
Cameroon vs Austria
Italy vs Chile

Friday, 12th June:
France vs South Africa
Paraguay vs Bulgaria
Saudi Arabia vs Denmark

Saturday, 13th June:
Holland vs Belgium
South Korea vs Mexico
Spain vs Nigeria

Sunday, 14th June:
Argentina vs Japan
Jamaica vs Croatia
Yugoslavia vs Iran

Monday, 15th June:
England vs Tunisia
Germany vs United States
Romania vs Colombia

Tuesday, 16th June:
Brazil vs Morocco
Scotland vs Norway

Wednesday, 17th June:
Chile vs Austria
Italy vs Cameroon

Thursday, 18th June:
France vs Saudi Arabia
South Africa vs Denmark

Friday, 19th June:
Nigeria vs Bulgaria
Spain vs Paraguay

Saturday, 20th June:
Belgium vs Mexico
Holland vs South Korea
Japan vs Croatia

Sunday, 21st June:
Argentina vs Jamaica
Germany vs Yugoslavia
United States vs Iran

Monday, 22nd June:
Colombia vs Tunisia
Romania vs England

Tuesday, 23rd June:
Brazil vs Norway
Chile vs Cameroon
Italy vs Austria
Scotland vs Morocco

Wednesday, 24th June:
France vs Denmark
Nigeria vs Paraguay
South Africa vs Saudi Arabia
Spain vs Bulgaria

Thursday, 25th June:
Belgium vs South Korea
Germany vs Iran
Holland vs Mexico
United States vs Yugoslavia

Friday, 26th June:
Argentina vs Croatia
Colombia vs England
Japan vs Jamaica
Romania vs Tunisia

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