© St. Petersburg Times, published June 8, 2002
SAPPORO, Japan -- First-round games rarely draw so much interest or produce so much drama.
But this was England-Argentina, bitter rivals with a past.
The English won 1-0 this time when David Beckham scored on a penalty kick just before halftime after Michael Owen was tripped in the box.
The victory set off jubilation throughout the Sapporo Dome, which was packed with English fans, and back home, too.
"This is so nice," Beckham said after shooting the penalty kick down the middle but still beating Pablo Cavallero, who did not move. "A lot was said after what happened four years ago."
At France in 1998, Beckham was ejected for kicking Diego Simeone in retaliation for being pushed in the back. England went on to lose in penalty kicks.
More was said before Beckham's winner Friday.
"Their antics, the keeper telling me to put it somewhere and Simeone trying to shake me up," said Beckham, who is recovering from a broken left foot that sidelined him for almost two months.
"We battled really hard. It's a team game. That's what it's about. The team was brilliant, really, for the whole 92 minutes."
In England, the country came to a virtual standstill when the game kicked off at lunchtime. Millions gathered to watch on huge television screens in city squares, pubs, factories, theaters, supermarkets, offices and even churches.
Newspapers described it as "the longest lunch hour in history."
SWEDEN 2, NIGERIA 1: Henrik Larsson's first World Cup goals since 1994 moved Sweden to the brink of the second round and eliminated Nigeria in Kobe, Japan.
Larsson tied the score in the 35th minute. He took a pass from Freddie Ljungberg, moved around one player to race into the penalty area and, despite the challenge of three Nigerians, poked his shot into the corner.
Larsson converted a 62nd-minute penalty kick for a 2-1 lead.
"We scored two goals and had a bit of luck with them hitting the post twice," Larsson said. "But over the whole game, I felt we deserved to win."
Julius Aghahowa gave Nigeria a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute, heading in Joseph Yobo's cross.
SPAIN 3, PARAGUAY 1: Fernando Morientes scored twice, and Spain became the first team to advance to the second round in Jeonju, South Korea.
"We'll go into the last game with the same motivation to win," Morientes said. "But it's good to know we've already qualified for the second round."
After trailing 1-0 at halftime on an own goal, Morientes scored his first goal on a jumping header off a corner kick in the 53rd minute.
In the 69th, Paraguay keeper Jose Luis Chilavert came out to break up Javi's cross but could not reach the pass. Morientes put in the winner off his chest. Fernando Hierro made it 3-1 on a penalty kick in the 83rd after Raul was wrestled down.
SECURITY TIGHTENED: Thousands of policemen will be deployed in downtown Seoul on Monday as a precaution against unrest during the match between South Korea and the United States. Tens of thousands are expected to gather in front of large television screens in plazas and parks to watch the game.
MARADONA ACCEPTED: Argentine great Diego Maradona was granted permission to attend games in Japan. Kyodo News reported Japan's justice minister, Mayumi Moriyama, reversed an earlier decision to deny Maradona a visa due to past drug offenses.
COURT RULING: Pepsi was ordered by an Argentine court to stop using an advertisement showing Sumo wrestlers playing soccer because it falsely implies the company has ties to the World Cup.
Pepsi said it won't stop airing the ad (or others with soccer connections) in the United States, South Korea and Japan.
PORTUGAL UNHAPPY: The selection of Scotland's Hugh Dallas for Portugal's game against Poland on Monday has upset the Portuguese.
Dallas and a linesmen also chosen officiated Portugal's elimination match in the European Championship two years ago. Portugal lost in the semifinals when Abel Xavier stopped a shot with his hand and France converted a penalty kick in stoppage time.
Xavier insisted the handball was accidental, which led to an argument and suspensions for three Portuguese players.
PHONE PROBLEMS: NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile phone company, said it could not connect as many as nine out of 10 calls on its domestic network after opening lines for the sale of remaining tickets.
A rush of calls increased traffic 10-fold after phone sales for three first-round games, including Japan-Russia on Sunday, began in a bid to fill empty seats.
TICKET PROBLEMS: FIFA is investigating how tickets in the name of Asian Football Confederation president-elect Mohammed Bin Hammam got into the hands of scalpers. FIFA is investigating a London Daily Mail report that an English fan bought tickets bearing Bin Hamman's name.
RATINGS: Univision's Spanish-language broadcasts have averaged more viewers in the United States than ESPN and ESPN2.
Univision's first 17 telecasts averaged 627,000 households, the network said. ESPN averaged 447,000 for its first three broadcasts, and ESPN2 averaged 500,000 for its first 15.