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World Cup: Germany sheds Mexico; the Netherlands edge Yugoslavia in thrilling round of 16 play.

By Paul Oberjuerge
Gannett News Service

MONTPELLIER, France (Monday, June 29, 1998) -- Maybe Mexico never should have taken a lead.

This World Cup's best rallying team couldn't hold a lead against the all-time comeback team, giving up two goals in the final 15 minutes in a 2-1 defeat to Germany in the second round Monday at Stade de la Mosson. "There were moments when we thought we would win," Mexico coach Manuel Lapuente said. "But this is not the right time to do deep analysis."

In Toulouse, an injured Edgar Davids scored two minutes into injury time to give the Netherlands a 2-1 victory over Yugoslavia and a precious place in the World Cup quarterfinals Monday. The Dutch will meet Argentina or England in the quarterfinals.

Mexico has been ousted by Germany twice in the past four World Cups, each time in excruciating fashion. In 1986, after 120 scoreless minutes, Germany won 4-1 in a quarterfinals penalty-kick shootout in Mexico City.

Then came the come-from-ahead defeat here on an oppressively hot (91 degrees at kickoff) day in the south of France. In its previous three France '98 matches, Mexico trailed at halftime. It defeated South Korea, and tied both Belgium and Netherlands.

"They were a magnificent team, an exceptional team," Germany coach Berti Vogts said of Mexico. "They have played outstanding football. They were a real contender."

Mexico appeared on its way to the quarterfinals when Luis Hernandez artfully knocked home a short-range goal in the 47th minute off a pass from fellow forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

But the Germans are never defeated until the final whistle, even this edition of the team, which is aging and had to be flagging in the midday heat. Juergen Klinsmann slotted home a goal in the 75th minute, and Oliver Bierhoff put in a header in the 86th minute to save the three-time world champions.

Germany plays Tuesday's winner between Romania and Croatia in a Saturday quarterfinal match.

The winning goal was particularly impressive. Midfielder Christian Tarnat, on the left flank, sent a pass clear to the other side of the field, where Ulf Kirsten collected it and looped it into the box --and onto the head of Bierhoff, who was inside and above Mexico defender Raul Lara.

Goalkeeper Jorge Campos had no chance. "The victory confirmed our way of playing," Klinsmann said. "We played according to our strengths -- fighting spirit, going and going and fighting and fighting for 90 minutes, especially when it is so hot. We are not the Brazilian team. We try to win by fighting so much we instill fear in the other team."

Lapuente was philosophical in defeat. "There is always two sides to every story," he said. "We lost, which would be the bad news. The good news is the performance we gave. I think we played a great game anyway. We scored, and I think that's very important."

Mexico took the game to a German team that practically toyed with the United States in a 2-0 first-round match. "I told the players I was very proud of their performance," Lapuente said. "We played in a very inspired way. We attacked a lot, we scored goals, and it was quite fun."

Yugoslavia had defended well for much of the game but with 92 minutes on the clock they failed to pick up Davids at a corner and the midfielder fired home a slightly-deflected shot from top of the penalty area.

The goal won the game because Yugoslavia's Predrag Mijatovic had missed a penalty kick in the 51st minute, the first World Cup spot-kick failure in regular time for eight years after 38 previous conversions.

Mijatovic lashed the ball against the bar after Spanish referee Jose Garcia-Aranda ruled that defender Jaap Stam had pulled the shirt of Vladimir Jugovic in the penalty area.

Dutch manager Guus Hiddink admitted his side had been fortunate to escape but claimed some of the credit for the miss by the Real Madrid star. "From my time (as a coach) in Spain, I knew Mijatovic only reacts to what the goalkeeper does. So I told (Edwin) Van Der Sar to wait as long as possible to confuse him. We were very lucky," he said.

Said Mijatovic: "Fate was against me. It was the worst moment in my career. Van Der Sar is a big man so I decided to hammer it."

Said Dutch captain Frank de Boer: "That was the turning point. We took about five minutes to recover and then picked up where we'd left off at the end of the first half. We deserved to win . . . it was only a matter of time before we scored the second goal," he added.

Yugoslav coach Slobodan Santrac said his players had failed to mark Davids because they were unsettled by a late injury todefender Sinisa Mihajlovic. "We had bad luck, but that's part of the game. We'd been reckoning on extra time. But I congratulate the Dutch on their victory," he said.

Yugoslavia, down 1-0 at halftime after goalkeeper Ivica Kralj let a Dennis Bergkamp 38th-minute shot slip past him, shed its defensive inhibitions after the break and equalized in the 48th minute.

Slack Dutch marking allowed defender Slobodan Komljenovic to rise unmolested at the far post to head home a swirling free kick from captain Dragan Stojkovic.

But after the penalty miss Santrac's players seemed to lose heart and had several narrow escapes.

Paul Oberjuerge writes for the San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sun. Wire services contributed to this report.

Round of 16

Germany 2, Mexico 1
in Montpellier

Germany -- Andreas Koepke; Lothar Matthaeus, Markus Babbel, Christian Woerns; Joerg Heinrich (Andy Moller 58), Michael Tarnat, Thomas Helmer (Christian Ziege 37), Dietmar Hamann, Thomas Haessler (Ulf Kirsten 74); Juergen Klinsmann, Oliver Bierhoff.
Mexico -- Jorge Campos; Claudio Suarez, Duilio Davino, Pavel Pardo; Alberto Garcia Aspe, German Villa, Marcelino Bernal (Salvador Carmona 46), Raul Lara; Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Luis Hernandez, Francisco Palencia (Jesus Arellano 53).

Goals: Germany - Klinsmann 75, Bierhoff 86; Mexico - Hernandez 47.
Shots at goal: Germany 14. Mexico 11.
Shots on goal:--Germany 6. Mexico 7.
Offsides: Germany 1, Mexico 2.
Corner kicks: Germany 1, Mexico 5.
Fouls: Germany 23, Mexico 14.
Yellow cautionary cards: Germany - Babbel, 47 (first-half), Matthaeus 57, Tarnat 78, Hamann 89; Mexico- Davino 58; Blanco 88.
Referee: Melo Pereira.
Attendance: 35,500 (estimated).

The Netherlands 2, Yugoslavia 1
in Toulouse

Netherlands -- Edwin van der Sar; Michael Reiziger, Jaap Stam, Frank de Boer, Arthur Numan; Ronald de Boer, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars; Phillip Cocu, Dennis Bergkamp.
Yugoslavia -- Ivica Kralj; Zeljko Petrovic, Goran Djorovic, Sinisa Mihajlovic (Nisa Saveljic 79), Zoran Mirkovic; Slavisa Jokanovic, Vladimir Jugovic, Slobodan Komljenovic, Dragan Stojkovic (Dejan Savicevic 57), Branko Brnovic; Predrag Mijatovic.
Goals: Neterlands - Bergkamp 38, Davids 92; Yugoslavia - Komljenovic 2, 48.
Shots at goal:Netherlands 17. Yugoslavia 6.
Shots on goal:Netherlands 13. Yugoslavia 3.
Offsides: Netherlands 3, Yugoslavia 3.
Corner kicks: Netherlands 9, Yugoslavia.
Fouls: Netherlands 19, Yugoslavia 2.
Yellow cautionary cards: Yugoslavia - Stojkovic 38, Mirkovic 53, Djorovic 73.
Referee: Garcia Aranda (Spain).
Attendance: 37,500 (estimated).