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England continues to impress in round of 16

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 16, 2002

NIIGATA, Japan -- Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is working his magic again.

Once embattled England advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Cup with an impressive 3-0 victory Saturday over Denmark, the team that ended the reign of defending champion France in the first round.

In addition to beating Germany 5-1 in qualifying in September and ending Argentina's psychological hold over it with a 1-0 victory in the first round, Eriksson's team has overcome injuries.

And now the team has Englishmen excited over its prospects.

"I saw fans doing congas and Mexican waves," said Rio Ferdinand, who scored England's first goal. "Hopefully we can keep them smiling and happy for longer."

England's next opponent could be four-time champion Brazil.

The Brazilians, favorites to win the championship, face Belgium on Monday; the quarterfinal is at Shizuoka, Japan, on Friday.

Asked about the prospect of playing Brazil, Eriksson said: "I think Brazil, how they are playing at this moment, they are one of the favorites. Many favorites already went out ... so Brazil is maybe one.

"Now we have six days before the next game. We're trying to rest, recover."

Michael Owen and Emile Heskey also scored in the first half for a 3-0 edge.

"To score three goals against England is nearly impossible," Danish coach Morten Olsen said.

Owen's injury forced him out of the second half.

"Owen has a groin injury, but we do not think it is a bad one. We think he will be okay for the next game," Eriksson said.

England shattered Denmark's confidence early, taking advantage of an error by goalkeeper Thomas Soerensen.

In the fifth minute, David Beckham sent in a twisting corner kick from the left that Ferdinand headed for the goal. The ball bounced off the turf and into the arms of Soerensen, who bobbled the easy save and juggled the ball across the line.

It was Ferdinand's first goal for England.

"I think it's very important when you're in this stage, the knockout stage, to score the first goal," Eriksson said. "We were lucky we scored; it was a good corner."

England made it 2-0 in the 22nd as Owen scored his first goal of the tournament. Trevor Sinclair and Nicky Butt combined on a quick passing combination, with the ball going to Owen, who left-footed it past a diving Soerensen.

With heavy rain falling, Heskey made it 3-0 in the 44th, scoring on a low, skidding shot from 18 yards.

The Danes never got back into the match as the rain subsided and England kept up its crisp, no-pressure passing.

Denmark looked nothing like the team that won Group A.

England fans outnumbered a few hundred Danish fans in the 42,000-seat Big Swan Stadium. Some 10,000 English were joined by thousands of Japanese fans wearing England colors.

GERMANY 1, PARAGUAY 0: Germany is in its World Cup comfort zone, the quarterfinals.

The Germans have reached the final eight in every appearance since 1954, and their 14 quarterfinal appearances (including those as West Germany) are a record.

They got there again on Oliver Neuville's goal in the 88th minute in Seogwipo, South Korea.

But the Germans struggled all game to finish their attacks before they finally got the decisive goal as extra time loomed.

"I got a bit excited in the locker room at halftime," coach Rudi Voeller said. "We played just the opposite of how we wanted to; sometimes we just blindly pushed the ball forward. But after the break, the team played well. We knew Paraguay would be tough, they are very robust defensively."

Neuville swept in a 6-yard right-footed shot after Bernd Schneider broke down the right wing and sent in a perfect cross.

Germany faces Mexico or the United States in the quarterfinals on Friday in Ulsan, South Korea.

Paraguay ended with 10 men after Roberto Acuna was ejected in second-half injury time. Paraguay has been knocked out on a late goal in the second round in consecutive Cups. It lost to eventual champion France in 1998 on an overtime goal.

Paraguay coach Cesare Maldini resigned after the game.

In a listless first half that saw Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz limp off in the 30th minute, neither side could scratch out many clear chances.

The game picked up in the second half.

Germany came close in the 47th when Neuville broke down the right side of the penalty area and sent the ball back to Schneider. With plenty of space, he shot straight at goalie Jose Luis Chilavert from 8 yards.

Moments later, Paraguay broke upfield and Jorge Campos, who outran his defender, hit a fierce left-footed drive to force a diving save from Kahn.

FALSE ALARM: Japan's biggest news agency falsely reported some heartbreaking news for local fans: "Tragedy in Osaka ... Japan's dreams shattered with triumph in sight." Kyodo News accidentally sent the headline, prepared in advance in case Japan lost its last Group H match, to an Internet news site. It stayed for three hours until a staffer noticed the mistake. Japan beat Tunisia 2-0 Friday.

FIFA HEAD LIKES ARRANGEMENT: FIFA is happy with the two-nation setup and hinted it could be repeated in 2010. "FIFA is very happy to have this competition in a co-hosting situation, and with a little bit of goodwill and a little bit of acceptance everywhere, there are no problems in this co-hosting situation," said Sepp Blatter, president of the sport's world governing body.

USSF LAWSUIT: A Hispanic-American man filed a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming discrimination in ticket sales for a World Cup qualifier against Honduras in September at Washington's RFK Stadium. Humberto Martinez of Sterling, Va., said he suffered "pain, humiliation and embarrassment" when he was not allowed to buy tickets in the lower half of the stadium. The USSF attempted to create a more pro-American crowd by limiting sales of the best seats to members of the so-called "U.S. soccer family."

TURKEY: A Korean Airlines plane carrying the team from Seoul hit an air pocket minutes before landing at Japan's Sendai Airport. Players and crew members were jostled as the jetliner plummeted hundreds of feet. None of the players was injured, team manager Can Cobanoglu said. "They were all looking pale," Cobanoglu said. "Their faces were all yellow."

URUGUAY: Coach Victor Pua confirmed he will quit in the near future after his team exited in the first round.

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