World Cup: Yugoslavia struggles to beat Iran; Argentina, Croatia win.
By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service
(Sunday, June 14, 1998) -- The United States and Germany perhaps should forget about goal-differential against Iran in Group F of the World Cup.
Just ask Yugoslavia.
Heavily favored, Yugoslavia was fortunate to escape with a 1-0 victory today against Iran on a 73rd-minute curving 25-yard free kick by Sinisa Mihajlovich. The winners had an edge in overall play, but the game was not lopsided, and Iran had good scoring chances against a Yugoslavia team that did not show its advertised creativity.
Most prognostications had Iran as a heavy loser to co-favorites Germany and Yugoslavia, and a slight underdog to the United States. If goal-differential does become a factor vis-a-vis Iran, the outcome in St. Etienne likely is a "victory" for the Germans and Americans, who meet tomorrow in their opening match.
The goal came on a low kick that bent around the left side of the wall past an out-of-position goalkeeper Nima Nakisa, 23, playing his eighth international with veteran Ahmad Abedzadeh out due to an injury. "I am satisfied that we won but I am not satisfied with the performance of my team." Yugoslavia coach Slaobodan Santrac.
"They defended very, very tightly, and it was difficult to get through," midfielder Slavisa Jokanovic told Reuters. "We were really lucky to get these three points."
Iran coach Jalal Talebi: "We showed that we can hold our own against one of the best teams in the world. If we are going to go down, we will go down fighting. Our mission is not finished."
Particularly outstanding was Iran midfielder Karim Bagheri, who outplayed counterpart Dragan Stojkovic by a wide margin.
In Group H games:
* Croatia routed tiring Jamaica, 3-1, with Robert Prosinecki breaking a 1-1 tie with a goal off a free kick in the 53rd minute. He became the first player to score for two different countries in the World Cup. He had a goal at Italia '90, against United Arab Emirates, when Croatia was still part of a united Yugoslavia.
* Gabriel Batistuta scored in the 28th minute after Hiroshi Nanami lost possession of the ball in a failed clearance to lead dominating Argentina to a 1-0 win against Japan. The game had 60 fouls, 35 by Japan, including 11 on Argentine midfielder Ariel Ortega.
Argentina 1, Japan 0
Argentina: Carlos Roa, Roberto Ayala, Roberto Sensini (Jose Chamot 74),
Javier Zanetti, Nelson Vivas, Matias Almeyda, Diego Simeone, Juan Veron, Ariel
Ortega, Claudio Lopez (Abel Balbo 62), Gabriel Batistuta.
Yugoslavia 1, Iran 0
in St. Etienne
Yugoslavia: Ivica Kralj, Zoran Mirkovic, Goran Djorovic, Sinisa
Mihajlovic, Zeljko Petrovic, Slavisa Jokanovic, Branko Brnovic (Dejan Stankovic
51), Vladimir Jugovic, Dragan Stojkovic (Darko Kovacevic, 69), Predrag
Mijatovic, Savo Milosevic (Perica Ognjenovic, 59).
Croatia 3, Jamaica 1
Jamaica: Warren Barrett, Ian Goodison, Ricardo Gardener, Frank
Sinclair, Fitzroy Simpson, Peter Cargill (Darryl Powell 70), Theodore Whitmore,
Robbie Earle (Andrew Williams 72), Onandi Lowe, Deon Burton, Paul Hall (Walter
Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at
Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.