World Cup: Blanc propels France to quarterfinals 1-0; Denmark blasts Nigeria 4-1.By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service
(Sunday, June 28, 1998) -- Avoiding a tie-deciding penalty-kick shootout, host France stayed alive today in the World Cup with a sudden-death "golden goal" to defeat defensive-oriented Paraguay, 1-0, on defender Laurent Blanc's blistering seven-yard shot six minutes before the end of the second and final 15-minute overtime period in Lens.
It sets up a quarterfinal date Friday against Italy.
Denmark, meanwhile, routed favored Nigeria, 4-1, and will meet Brazil in the other Friday quarterfinal.
Blanc, who rushed into the attack despite concern by teammates, found himself unmarked to goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert's left and buried the shot after a headed pass from David Trezeguet followed a cross by Robert Pires. "Lilian (Thuram) and Marcel (Desailly) tried to stop me but I pretended I didn't hear them," he said about rushing forward. "I knew it was risky because Paraguay could use a counterattack to score. But we needed a goal . . . "
"We had to dig deep into our reserves at the end," midfielder Didier Deschamps said. "We used up a lot of energy. We have to be a lot tougher against Italy."
France dominated the run of play except for the occasional Paraguay counterattack. But the French, without midfield star Zindine Zidane for the second straight game due to suspension, were unable to finish off plays. "We should have settled it in the first half," coach Aime Jacquet said. "We were a bit clumsy and missed two opportunities. We really worked hard."
Denmark continued European domination of the World Cup with a surprising rout of Nigeria, scoring twice in the first 12 minutes. "It is wonderful, completely fantastic," coach Bo Johansson said. "Everyone really enjoyed themselves out on the field." Added goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel: "We've always known we were capable of playing this type of football. I think they (Nigeria) were thinking about the Brazil game." Said Nigeria wing Finidi George: "Denmark had a very good attack and made some good chances and scored goals, and we only had a couple of chances. Obviously it's rather disappointing."
The loss eliminated the last team remaining from Africa. No one from Asia
made the second round. The lone squad left from CONCACAF, the federation of
North America, Central America and the Carribean, is Mexico, a big underdog
Monday against Germany. Brazil is one South American entry in the quarterfinals,
and Argentina, which meets England on Tuesday, hopes to be the second.
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.
Round of 16France 1, Paraguay 0 (extra time)
France -- Fabien Barthez, Lilian Thuram, Laurent Blanc, Marcel
Desailly, Bixente Lizarazu, Didier Deschamps, Emmanuel Petit (Alain
Boghossian 70), Youri Djorkaeff, Thierry Henry (Robert Pires 65), Bernard
Diomede (Stephane Guivarc'h 77), David Trezeguet.
Denmark 4, Nigeria 1
Denmark -- Peter Schmeichel, Marc Rieper, Jes Hogh, Jan Heintze,
Soren Colding, Martin Jorgensen, Thomas Helveg, Allan Nielsen, Michael
Laudrup (Per Frandsen 84), Brian Laudrup (Morten Wieghorst 78), Peter
Moller (Ebbe Sand 59).