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Norwegian Women Set Up Showdown

ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | SOCCER

July 26, 1996|Times Wire Services

Norway's women's team, the co-gold medal favorite, did more than enough to keep its podium hopes intact, beating Japan, 4-0, in its final first-round game at Washington.

Norway (2-0-1) won its group and will play the other co-favorite, the United States, in the semifinals Sunday.

Japan (0-3) had already been eliminated from contention.

Brazil advanced to the semifinals when Sissi scored off the right goalpost in the 53rd minute and Brazil tied Germany, 1-1, at Birmingham, Ala.

Sissi and Roseli provided the offensive pressure as Brazil (1-0-2) recovered from a 1-0 first-half deficit. Germany (1-2-0), which needed to win to advance in Group F, missed several close chances in the final minutes.

In Orlando, Fla., Malin Swedberg scored twice in a six-minute span of the second half, leading Sweden to a 3-1 victory over Denmark in the finale for both teams.

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Brazil's men's team earned first place in Group D with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria at Miami.

With a feverish and mostly Brazilian crowd of 55,650 at the Orange Bowl, the Nigerians played sufficient defense for most of the night. Had Brazil failed, the shortcoming would have haunted a team which was already ripped apart by criticism for losing to Japan on Sunday.

In the end, Brazil tied Nigeria in goal differential. The one goal Brazil scored Thursday night was the clincher for the second tiebreaker, total goals scored. The third tiebreaker, had it been needed, was head-to-head competition, and that was settled in the first half.

At Orlando, Masakiyo Maezono and timely substitute Kenichi Uemura scored in the 90th minute, giving Japan an improbable 3-2 victory over Hungary.

The victory boosted the Japanese into a three-way tie for first place in the Group D standings. However, they won't join Brazil and Nigeria in advancing to the second round because of goal differential.

The decisive goal was Maezono's second of the game, set up by a crossing pass from Teruyoshi Ito, the star of Japan's 1-0 upset of the Brazilians last Sunday.

For Mexico, Pavel Pardo was both the hero and the goat at Washington.

Pardo deflected a ball into his own net, giving Ghana a goal that nearly eliminated the Mexicans from the tournament. He redeemed himself by supplying a picture-perfect assist on the tying score by Jose Abundis. That advanced his team in a 1-1 tie.

The tie meant Ghana had to wait to hear the result of the Italy-South Korea match in Birmingham, Ala., where a late goal by Marco Branca gave the Italians a 2-1 victory. That put the 1992 bronze medalists from Africa in the quarterfinals at the expense of the Koreans.

Ghana advanced on the third tiebreaker, more goals scored, and will play Brazil on Sunday in Miami. Mexico meets Nigeria in Birmingham, also Sunday.

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