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World Cup: Italy gains edge in tight Group B standings.


By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Wednesday, June 17, 1998) -- Austria continued to live on the edge, while Chile continued to be snake-bit at the end. Italy, meanwhile, moved ahead of the field, and Cameroon dug itself a big hole.

But all four teams remained in contention today for the top two places needed to advance to the second round of the World Cup from Group B.

Italy leads with 1-0-1 (4 points), with Chile and Austria second at 0-0-2 (2 points), and Cameroon fourth at 0-1-1 (1 point).

Ivica Vastic scored in injury time to give outplayed Austria its second straight last-moment tie, 1-1, against Chile. Tony Polster had similarly rescued Austria in the opener, a 1-1 draw against Cameroon.

Extra time is added in each half by the referee to compensate for substitutions and injuries and other delays of game. "It's no miracle," Austrian midfielder Harald Cerny said of the late goals. "We fought hard."

Chile, which dominated play, lost a chance at victory despite Marcelo Salas scoring his third goal of the tournament at the 70-minute mark. Chile had yielded a tying goal on a controversial handball ruling in a 2-2 opening draw against Italy in the 85th minute.

"I do not know what to say, why we have to suffer through things like this," coach Nelson Acosta said. "I don't know what happened, can't explain it."

Italy posted a 3-0 win against shorthanded Cameroon in a match much closer than the score indicates. Christian Vieri had two late goals after Cameroon's Raymond Kalla Nkongo was given a controversial red card in the 44th minute after sliding cleats-first into Italian midfielder Luigi DiBiagio, who himself was attempting a sliding tackle.

Cameroon still threatened several times the second half before Vieri made it 2-0 in the 75th minute. "It's true, we struggled a bit," Italy coach Cesare Maldini said. "I don't know why, but a bit of fear crept in after we scored the first goal. But we worked hard."

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.

GROUP B

Chile 1, Austria 1
in St. Etienne

Chile - Nelson Tapia, Ronaldo Fuentes, Francisco Rojas, Javier Margas, Pedro Reyes, Nelson Parraguez, Clarence Acuna, Moises Villarroel (Cristian Castaneda 67), Fabian Estay (Jose Luis Sierra 57), Ivan Zamorano, Marcelo Salas.
Austria - Michael Konsel, Peter Schoettel, Anton Pfeffer, Wolfgang Feiersinger, Mario Haas (Ivica Vastic 74), Heimo Pfeifenberger, Harald Cerny (Markus Schopp 46), Arnold Wetl, Roman Mahlich, Dietmar Kuhbauer (Andreas Herzog 46), Anton Polster.
Goals: Chile - Marcelo Salas 70; Austria - Ivica Vastic 90.
Shots at goal: Chile 11, Austria 7.
Shots on goal: Chile 5, Austria 3.
Yellow cautionary cards: Chile - Moises Villarroel 16, Fabian Estay 48, Marcelo Salas 58, Ivan Zamorano 75. Austria - Peter Schoettel 25.
Referee: Gamal Ghandour (Egypt).
Attendance: 30,392.


Italy 3, Cameroon 0
in Montpellier

Italy - Gianluca Pagliuca, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Costacurta, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Demetrio Albertini (Roberto Di Matteo 62), Dino Baggio, Luigi Di Biagio, Fransesco Moriero (Angelo Di Livio 84), Roberto Baggio (Alessandro Del Piero 65), Christian Vieri.
Cameroon - Jacques Celestin Songo'o, Pierre Wome Nlend, Rigobert Song Bahanag, Raymond Kalla Nkongo, Pierre Djaka Njanka Beyaka, Salomon Olembe, Joseph Ndo, Francois Omam Biyick (Alphonse Marie Tchami Djohama 66), Patrick Mboma (Samuel Eto'o Fils 66), Samuel Ipoua (Joseph Job 46), Didier Nguidjol Angibeau.
Goals: Italy - Luigi Di Biagio 8, Christian Vieri 75, Vieri 89.
Shots at goal: Italy 12, Cameroon 14.
Shots on goal: Italy 9, Cameroon 10.
Yellow cautionary cards: Cameroon - Pierre Wome Nlend 7, Pierre Djaka Njanka Beyaka 17, Didier Nguidjol Angibeau 79, Rigobert Song Bahanag 85. Italy - Alessandro Costacurta 26, Luigi Di Biagio 63.
Red expulsion card: Cameroon - Raymond Kalla Nkongo 43.
Referee: Edward Lennie (Australia).
Attendance: 35,000.