YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Like favorites France and Argentina before it, Italy couldn't win a critical game. Unlike them, it survived the first round of the World Cup.
On Alessandro Del Piero's 85th-minute goal, Italy gained a 1-1 tie with Mexico on Thursday night and both advanced from Group G.
''If I had dreamed of anything in this game it would be this,'' Del Piero said. ''Had we won, we would have been more tranquil, but the aim was to qualify and we made it.''
Croatia, needing a win to advance instead of Italy, fell 1-0 to previously winless Ecuador, knocking both out.
Del Piero's goal did keep Mexico from joining Brazil and Spain as the only 3-0 teams going into the second round.
''We wanted to beat Italy for the first time in Mexican history,'' midfielder Braulio Luna added. ''But we are happy to qualify for the next round in first place.''
One of the two advancing teams from Group G could face the United States, which needed at least a tie against Poland on Friday in Daejeon, South Korea to advance.
Also on Friday, Portugal played co-host South Korea, with both having a chance to move on.
Earlier Thursday, Ronaldo scored twice and Rivaldo added a goal as Brazil defeated Costa Rica 5-2, and earned the gratitude of Turkey.
The Turks did their part to advance to the second round for the first time by beating China 3-0. But they also needed Brazil to win, preferably by a big margin -- and the four-time champion did just that.
''This is the happiest event in the whole world,'' said Naci Orki, a sandwich seller back in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
Defending champion France went out without scoring a goal. Talent-laden Argentina managed only a 1-1 tie with Sweden when it needed to win to stay in.
Italy sank into trouble by losing 2-1 to Croatia after beating Ecuador 2-0. The three-time champion Italians found the late goal that made the difference, however.
''We're pleased we qualified -- that's what mattered,'' Italy's Francesco Totti said. ''We have time to improve.''
Behind Brazil in Group C, Turkey and Costa Rica each were 1-1-1. Turkey had a better goal differential (plus-2 to minis-1) than Costa Rica.
In its World Cup debut, China was outscored 9-0 in losing all three games.
''Despite the disappointments, this has been a tremendous learning experience for the team and, on a more general level, for China's soccer,'' coach Bora Milutinovic said.
For their round of 16 matches, Brazil and Turkey were awaiting the finish Friday of Group H, where Japan, Russia, Belgium and Tunisia all had a chance to advance.
Mexico's goal came on a brilliant header by Jared Borgetti, with his back to the net, on a pass from Cuauhtemoc Blanco in the 34th minute.
Two Italian goals were nullified on offside calls before Del Piero's late diving header off a pass from Vincenzo Montella.
In Mexico, while there were no reported injuries during celebrations, a public security officer said about 150 youths were detained. Most were accused of harassing women, attempted vandalism, throwing bottles, igniting fireworks or possessing drugs.
Edison Mendez scored Ecuador's goal in the 48th minute in its victory.
''Everyone in Ecuador should celebrate because it's a great joy, we won our first World Cup game,'' Mendez said. ''We played poorly in the first game, but we recovered and won a match.''
Croatia, which finished third in 1998, was crushed.
''This is a major disappointment, to be a step into the next round and then to have the door slammed in our faces,'' said Croatia coach Mirko Jozic.
Edmilson showed that Brazil still can play the ''beautiful game.'' In the 39th minute, he took a long pass, flipped in the air and sent the ball in with a scissor-kick, putting his team ahead 3-0.
But there were worries about defensive lapses.
''We will have to talk during the week on what happened and then will have to correct it ... because those things should not happen,'' said Junior, who scored Brazil's last goal.
Ronaldo's first score initially was credited as an own goal, but FIFA switched it on Friday. It came in the 10th minute.
Ronaldo scored again three minutes later.
After Edmilson's spectacular kick, Costa Rican scores by Paulo Wanchope in the 39th minute and Ronald Gomez in the 56th cut the gap to 3-2.
But Brazil's Rivaldo scored in the 62nd minute, Junior followed and Turkey won, ending the Central Americans' chances.
For Turkey, in the World Cup for the first time in 48 years, it was a great relief to advance.
''We were under pressure in our first two games and we're very glad everything goes according to the plan and we've advanced,'' Turkey coach Senol Gunes said.
An earthquake jolted Tokyo at about noon Friday and could be felt about 20 miles away in Yokohama, site of the World Cup final on June 30. There were no reports of serious damage from the 5.2-magnitude quake, but one man was injured by a falling chandelier. The quake was strong enough to sway tall buildings in Tokyo and caused a temporary halt in express train service.
Police defused a small bomb found at a race course where thousands were watching the World Cup late Thursday night. Police said no one was injured.
Moscow police detained four more people in connection with the deadly soccer riot in which two people died Sunday. Two were charged with participating in mass disturbances, and the other two with hooliganism. The city prosecutor's office said four more arrests are expected. The number in custody is 12.
The riot broke out Sunday during an outdoor broadcast of Russia's 1-0 World Cup loss to Japan. Hundreds of drunken youths attacked shops, cars, police and each other in the city center.
Peninsula Clarion © 2015. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us