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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 jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.

Round of 16

France 1, Paraguay 0 (extra time)
in Lens

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.
Paraguay -- Jose Luis Chilavert, Francisco Arce, Carlos Gamarra, Celso Ayala, Pedro Sarabia, Roberto Acuna, Julio Cesar Enciso, Carlos Paredes (Denis Caniza 75), Miguel Benitez, Jorge Campos (Juan Carlos Yegros 56), Jose Cardoso (Aristides Rojas 91).
Goal: France - Laurent Blanc 114 (sudden-death goal).
Shots at goal: France 35, Paraguay 12.
Shots on goal: France 25, Paraguay 5.
Offsides: France 1, Paraguay 2.
Fouls:France 13, Paraguay 21.
Yellow caution cards: Paraguay - Jose Luis Chilavert 18, Miguel Benitez 23, Julio Cesar Enciso 32, Francisco Arce 84, Aristides Rojas 99.
Attendance: 41,275 (estimated).
Referee: Ali Mohamed Bujsaim (United Arab Emirates).


Denmark 4, Nigeria 1
in Paris

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).
Nigeria -- Peter Rufai, Celestine Babayaro, Uche Okechukwu, Taribo West, Finidi George, Mutiu Adepoju, Jay-Jay Okocha, Garba Lawal (Tijani Babangida 73), Sunday Oliseh, Victor Ikpeba, Nwankwo Kanu (Rashidi Yekini 65).
Goals: Denmark - Peter Moller 3, Brian Laudrup 12, Ebbe Sand 60, Thomas Helveg 76. Nigeria - Tijani Babangida 78.
Shots at goal: Nigeria 25, Denmark 17.
Shots on goal: Nigeria 8, Denmark 12.
Offsides: Nigeria 1, Denmark 3.
Fouls: Nigeria 18, Denmark 15.
Yellow caution cards: Denmark - Marc Rieper 24. Nigeria - Jay-Jay Okocha 49.
Attendance: 80,000 (estimated).
Referee: Urs Meier (Switzerland).