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World Cup: Few surprises as quarterfinals are set.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Tuesday, June 30, 1998) -- The 1998 World Cup has the six pre-tournament favorites in the quarterfinals. The darkhorses are Denmark and Croatia.

Most observers picked England and Spain to join Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, France and Netherlands. England, though, was upset in the first round by Romania, and thus lost a second-round date against Croatia. Instead it had to meet Argentina, and lost in penalty kicks.

Spain never got out of its group, and Denmark took its predicted place in the quarterfinals by toppling Nigeria in the second round.

A brief look at the weekend quarterfinals:

Friday

Italy vs. France (St. Denis), 10:30 a.m.: Two of the elite. Goals will be scarce. French have an edge on defense, Italians on offense.

Brazil vs. Denmark (Nantes), 3 p.m. Brazil midfield play has improved, and don't be surprised to see more of Denilson. Denmark firepower lacking.

Saturday

The Netherlands vs. Argentina (Marseille), 10:30 a.m.: The Dutch have awesome speed, which Argentina's defense had problems handling against England.

Germany vs. Croatia (Lyon), 3 p.m.: Tough to stop Germany forwards Juergen Klinsmann and Oliver Bierhoff. Croatia matches in spirit, but not in depth.

Croatia eliminated aging Romania, 1-0, on a penalty shot conversion by striker Davor Suker in the 45th minute today. Referee Javier Castrilli (Argentina) awarded the kick after midfielder Aljosa Asanovic tumbled after what appeared to be a modest challenge by defender Gabriel Popescu.

Suker made the shot, then had to take it again after one of his teammates was adjudged to have encroached into the area -- and made the shot a second time. "Croatia deserved the victory," Romania coach Anghel Iordenescu said. "They were much better, more cohesive, and they created more opportunities."

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

Round of 16

Croatia 1, Romania 0
in Bordeaux

Romania -- Bogdan Stelea, Dan Petrescu (Lucian Marinescu 76), Liviu Cibotariu, Gheorghe Popescu, Iulian Filipescu, Dorinel Munteanu, Gheorghe Hagi (Gheorghe Craioveanu 57), Constantin Galca, Gabriel Popescu (Radu Niculescu 61), Viorel Moldovan, Adrian Ilie.
Croatia -- Drazen Ladic, Igor Stimac, Robert Jarni, Slaven Bilic, Dario Simic, Mario Stanic (Igor Tudor 83), Krunoslav Jurcic, Aljosa Asanovic, Zvonimir Boban, Goran Vlaovic (Petar Krpan 77), Davor Suker.
Goal: Croatia - Davor Suker 45 (penalty kick).
Shots at goal: Romania 10, Croatia 20.
Shots on goal: Romania 6, Croatia 10.
Fouls: Romania 12, Croatia 13.
Offsides: Romania 1, Croatia 4.
Yellow caution cards: Croatia - Zvonimir Boban 27, Slaven Bilic 71. Romania - Gheorghe Popescu 44, Dan Petrescu 70, Adrian Ilie 82.
Attendance: 36,500 (estimated).
Referee: Javier Castrilli (Argentina).