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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 08:51, June 20, 2006
Spain qualify, Ukraine and Switzerland alive, Togo out
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Spain rallied from one goal down to beat Tunisia 3-1 qualifying for the World Cup last 16 on Monday, both Ukraine and Switzerland scored their first victories to stay alive, while Togo had to bow out of the tournament with two defeats.

In a rain-affected Group H game in Stuttgart, Spain, who downed Ukraine 4-0 in their opener, waited until the second half to equalize through Raul and go on to win in style from two more goals thanks to Fernando Torres.

Joahar Mnari put Tunisia into a shock lead after great work from Ziad Jaziri inside the penalty area in the eighth minute. The ball from Jaziri found Mnari whose initial shot was saved by Iker Casillas but he tucked away the rebound.

Raul, who was on in the second half for Luis Garcia, equalised in the 71st minute by pouncing on Ali Boumnijel's poor parry from Cesc Fabregas' weak shot inside the area.

It was Raul's first goal since October 19, 2005 when he scored against Rosenberg in the Champions League.

Five minutes later, Spain was 2-1 ahead. Torres, 22, scored Spain's second goal as the Atletico Madrid striker latched on to a Fabregas pass and rounded keeper Boumnijel to put the Spaniards into the lead.

Torres, who was top scorer for Spain in the qualifiers with seven goals, killed off the game in the final minute. He picked himself up after he was fouled to fire in the spot-kick.

"We were rather nervous in the first half, " said Tunisia coach Roger Lemerre. "Spain pushed us to the limit in the second half and our players were tired."

When asked about Tunisia's last group match against Ukraine, Lemerre, who was the first coach to guild France and Tunisia to different continental champions, said that "I am a realist. I am neither an optimist nor an pessimist. I hope our team can go far. Ukraine is at the same situation with us, but we know the result will be decided in the last match."

Spain coach Luis Aragones said the victory is very important for Spain's future.

"It's a very tough game," he said. "Tunisia played counter attacking football. We played too many long passes. We have problems in the first half. But in the second, we played extremely well and could play our style. That is technical skill."

"We played better in the second half. We deserved the win."

In Hamburg, Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov were among the scorers as Ukraine put the pain of the Spain match behind them to slaughter Saudi Arabia 4-0 in their second World Cup Group H match.

"We have the fighting spirit back and now we can go on dreaming of winning the title," said coach Oleg Blokhin after the match.

"We scored early, which gave us safety and I think we now have good chance improving to the next round."

Ukrainians were ahead inside four minutes when Mabrouk Zaid needlessly gave away a corner and Andriy Rusol bundled in Ukraine's first-ever World Cup goal off his knee, following Maxim Kalinichenko's corner.

Rebrov doubled Ukraine's scoring with an absolute cracker from 35 yards out in the 36th minute as the Saudi goalkeeper Mabrouk Zaid toppled over in comedy fashion.

One minute into the second half, Shevchenko's bullet header made it three, following yet another pinpoint cross from Kalinichenko. It is the Chelsea striker's first ever World Cup goal.

Kalinichenko, awarded Man of the Match, smashed the ball into the top of the net after great work from Shevchenko to seal the victory 4-0.

"Saudi Arabia are not very strong opponents. That made it easier for us in the difficult situation after the big defeat to Spain," said Blokhin.

Ukrainians were quick and neat in attacking. And after they enjoyed a comfortable two-goal halftime advantage, Saudi slow-paced defense was dismantled both physically and mentally.

Saudi Arabians were apparently troubled on the slippery pitch, soaked by a storm starting about half an hour before the match kicked off.

"The pitch was wet and slippery, which made the ball roll fast and hard to control. Also, their early goals built up the edge," said Saudi coach Marcos Paqueta.

However, Kalinichenko shrugged off the rain element. "It's just a question of choosing the right shoes," said the Spartak Moscow midfielder.

In Group H, Spain will next play Saudi Arabia and Tunisia vie for the other knockout stage spot against Ukraine.

Ukraine are up and running after this emphatic triumph and the outlook now appears bleak for Saudi Arabia, who collected only one point from two games, however, with Spain still to come.

In Dortmund, Switzerland managed their first World Cup win in Germany, beating Togo 2-0 despite a boring performance with nothing of an entertaining brand of football.

With the win, the Swiss moved temporarily on the top of the Group G table, leading on goal differences over South Korea, who also marked 4 points after beating Togo 2-1 in their World Cup opener and drawing 1-1 with France on Sunday.

"Of course that was important," Swiss scorer Alexander Frei told German TV after the match. "Our coach told us at halftime that we had to score a second, and we did. The 2-0 victory is ideal."

"I've expected the win, I think we deserved it," said Switzerland's coach Koebi Kuhn at the post-match press conference.

"There are no easy teams. Togo were strong opponents, they have good players," he added.

Togo coach Otto Pfister said "The Swiss didn't have a lot of chances. They just used their opportunities better than us."

Togo will have to go out of the tournament after committing two defeats from as many matches, while France kept hopes alive with draws twice.

In 16 minutes, Tranquillo Barnetta, at the far post, proded Ludovic Magnan's cross into the path of Alex Frei, who scored Switzerland's first goal of this World Cup.

Barnetta later scored himself to make it two for the Swiss in the dying minutes, arrowing a sweet strike in at the far post at 88.

The match was once put in doubt, however, as Togolese players boycotted it and they refused to board the bus on the time Sunday morning before being threatened with sanctions by FIFA and finally flying for Dortmund.

It's a precedent in the 76-year history of the World Cup that a team withdrew from a match.

The Togo squad have been embroiled in a pay dispute since before the tournament started and has also endured turmoil with coach Pfister leaving then being re-instated as coach.

On the first minute of the stoppage time in the do-or-die clash against Switzerland on Monday, Togo rushed into a hurry as Mustafa Salifou's shot was tipped over by Swiss keeper Pascal Zuberbuehler.

They have been knocked out of their stride by the Swiss' goal at 16 and hardly touched the ball since.

Togo failed to get back in the game in the second half, while Adebayor did not take long to get into the action, climbing all over Philippe Senderos at 47 and then complaining vociferously when the free-kick went against him.

Source: Xinhua


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