Mexico rallies into 2d round; South Korea eliminates Belgium.By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service
(Thursday, June 25, 1998) -- Mexico rallied from nearly insurmountable odds to tie shocked the Netherlands 2-2 and South Korea provided the upset of the first round by also coming from behind to tie and eliminate stunned Belgium 1-1 in today’s World Cup highlights.
Two goals in the final 15 minutes brought Mexico back from a 2-0 deficit, the final score coming with Mexico down a man. "There's nothing like the taste of not losing, and thank God we were able to achieve this feat," striker Luis Hernandez said after his team rallied for the third straight game to advance to the second round.
Coach Manuel Lapuente said Mexico recovered well from a poor start. "We lacked security, we lacked cohesion, we lost a lot of balls but slowly and surely we came into the game," he said. "I made changes, and the game improved, Mexico improved. I told my players not to lose faith. With faith you move mountains. They have a big heart, and they displayed that all over the field."
"It was an unbelievable game for us, fantastic," Hernandez said. "We played so well even knowing that South Korea was drawing with Belgium."
Ironically, Belgium's failure to win meant Mexico would have qualified even if it had lost.
Five minutes into injury time, in the last of a frantic series of assaults on the Dutch goal, Hernandez shook off defender Jaap Stam and poked the ball under goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar to give Mexico the draw.
It was his third goal of the World Cup, and capped another great comeback for the Mexicans, who rallied from 2-0 down to tie Belgium 2-2 in their previous game, and from 1-0 down in the opener to down South Korea 3-1.
"This was a game in which we cannot be satisfied," Dutch coach Guus Hiddink said after his team dominated most of the match. "For one or other reason, we settled too much and we did not defend like we like to defend."
Ricardo Pelaez scored for Mexico in the 75th minute. Cuauhtemoc Blanco had a goal called back in the 89th minute when he was whistled for offside. Star midfielder Ramon Ramirez was given a red card for protesting the call, which replays indicated was accurate. He will miss Mexico's second-round match Monday.
Mexico apparently has learned a valuable lesson from the 1994 World Cup. Four years ago it bowed in the second round in a shootout against Bulgaria. Miguel Mejia Baron, Mexico's coach, was criticized severely after he failed to use his substitutes, even when his players tired in extra time.
But this tournament Lapente has made use of his bench in all three games, and his substitutions have paid off. Against South Korea, striker Ricardo Pelaez came on at halftime with the score tied. Five minutes later he scored, and then assisted on the third goal.
The bench again proved effective against Belgium. Substitute Jesus Arellano set up Cuauhtemoc Blanco's 62nd-minute tying goal.
He again was effective against the Netherlands, causing problems down the right flank as Mexico piled on the pressure in the second half. And Pelaez, once more substituted after intermission, scored the first goal on a header.
South Korea, meanwhile, trailed in the seventh minute, but got a goal by Yoo Sang-chul in the 72st minute to destroy Belgium's hopes. "After two defeats we were very demoralized," interim coach Kim Pyung seok said. "We were determined to give our supporters a morale boost. I think the Koreans here are very proud of us."
Said Belgium coach George Leekens: "It started well. But in these games you really need to get the second goal. After that first goal, we took our foot off the pedal."
His team tired, as it did in the Mexico game. "I think we lacked a little bit
of quality," he said.
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.
Belgium 1, South Korea 1
Belgium -- Philippe Vande Walle, Lorenzo Staelens, Eric Deflandre,
Gordan Vidovic, Vital Borkelmans, Philippe Clement (Emile Mpenza 75), Enzo
Scifo (Franky van der Elst 66), Marc Wilmots, Nico van Kerckhoven, Luis
Oliveira (Mbo Mpenza 46), Luc Nilis.
The Netherlands 2, Mexico 2
Netherlands -- Edwin van der Sar, Michael Reiziger, Jaap Stam, Frank de
Boer, Arthur Numan (Winston Bogarde 72), Wim Jonk (Aron Winter 71), Ronald de
Boer, Philip Cocu, Edgar Davids, Dennis Bergkamp (Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 78),
Germany 2, Iran 0
Germany -- Andy Koepke, Olaf Thon (Dietmar Hamann 46), Juergen Kohler,
Christian Woerns, Joerg Heinrich, Lothar Matthaeus, Thomas Helmer, Michael
Tarnat (Christian Ziege 77), Thomas Haessler (Ulf Kirsten 70), Juergen
Klinsmann, Oliver Bierhoff.