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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 08:15, June 12, 2006
All soccer giants struggle to win on World Cup third day
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The world soccer powerhouses Netherlands, Mexico and Portugal struggled to beat their rivals on Sunday, the third day of the World Cup Germany kicking off on Friday evening.

The Netherlands flew to a winning start by beating Serbia and Montenegro 1-0 in Leipzig. The young Dutch side, making a return after the 2002 absence, won the game in a "Group of Death" which also featured Argentina and Cote d'Ivoire.

"I'm happy that we won the first match, which is very important for the tournament," said Dutch coach Marco Van Basten after the match.

"We knew our opponents were very tough to beat and it was very difficult today. I had thought we were able to beat them 1-0."

Forward Arjen Robben scored the sole goal for the Orange in the 18th minutes. He made a splendid solo run to beat Serbian defenders and goalkeeper Dragoslav Jevric after receiving Robin van Persie's pass around the middle circle.

The Chelsea winger, who frequently penetrated the Serbian defence in the left wing, became the most active player on pitch.

In Nuremberg, Striker Omar Bravo scored twice as Mexico beat Iran 3-1 in their World Cup Group D opener.

The 26-year-old put Mexico ahead in the 28th minute after slotting in a pass from Guillermo Franco. He scored the second in the 76th minute to give the Mexicans a 2-1 lead after the matched had been deadlocked at 1-1.

Iran gave Mexico some nervous moments soon after the kickoff. Striker Vahid Hashemian could have given the Asian side the lead.

Iran, who recorded only one win in their two previous World Cup finals, displayed an agressive performance after the interval, pressing the Mexicans from the start and looked very strong from dead-balls.

Ricardo La Volope's side was shocked as striker Jared Borgetti was forced off with a hamstring problem. The leading scorer in qualifying was replaced by Francisco Fonseca.

Bravo rose to the occasion to help Mexico to retake the lead and Antonio Zinha sealed the win with a bullet header from 10 meters out from Mario Mendez's right-wing cross.

Iran captain said Ali Dae said that two mistakes in five minutes cost their point from the games.

"Some individual players made mistakes in five minutes. We lost in just five minutes. We are unlucky. But that's football, we must accept it," the 37-year-old said.

Mexico coach La Volpe said that his substititions have played a very important role in the second half.

"The substitutions are perfect," he said. "We are nervous in the first half. That's normal for the players in a big stage like the World Cup. But in the second half we controled the position and we won."

In Cologne, Portugal beat Angola 1-0 to move level on points with Mexico at the top of Group D.

Pedro Pauleta, who almost scored after just 12 seconds, gave Portugal the lead in the fourth mintue with a neat shot after Luis Figo broke clear from the middle and dished out an immaculate cross.

Making their World Cup debut, Angola must have feared the worst after that Pauleta goal, particularly as they had lost 6-0 and 5-1 in their two previous meetings with Portugal.

But to their immense credit Angola refused to be overawed and went on the offensive.

While Portugal sought to protect their lead, Angola replaced Akwa with Pedro Mantorras, but the Benfica forward was unable to change the course of the game.

Source: Xinhua


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