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Italy Narrowly Defeats Australia

September 14, 2000|From Associated Press

Andrea Pirlo scored off the inside of the goalpost Wednesday as Italy beat Australia, 1-0, in their opening game of the Olympic soccer tournament.

A packed stadium of 93,252 went home disappointed as the only goal between two contenders for the gold medal came nine minutes from the end of a bruising game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Keeper Hayden Foxe gave away possession of the ball in his end and substitute Massimo Margiotta, who entered the game only five minutes earlier, put Pirlo clear with a pass to the middle. The Italian playmaker had plenty time to fire the ball home, with only the goalkeeper to beat.

But he rolled it gently toward goal and the ball hit the inside of the post and barely crossed the line before Foxe tried to atone for his blunder by clearing it.

The Aussies thought they got away with it, and it was several seconds before the referee awarded the Italians a goal.

Italian goalkeeper Christian Abbiati made two stunning saves to defy the Aussies.

Nigeria 3, Honduras 3--Nigeria scored twice in the final 13 minutes and escaped its opener with a tie against lightly regarded Honduras at Adelaide, Australia.

Victor Agali scored in the 77th and Yakubu Ayegbeni in the 89th, nullifying a two-goal performance by Honduras' David Suazo, who was a prominent figure in leading the Central Americans to the CONCACAF under-23 title.

Suazo scored in the 35th and 75th minutes, the latter goal giving Honduras a 3-1 lead. Julio Leon scored the other goal for Honduras in the 60th minute.

Cameroon 3, Kuwait 2--Lauren Etame Mayer scored with five minutes remaining to give Cameroon a win at Brisbane, Australia.

Nicolas Alnoudji gave Cameroon the lead in the 36th minute. Patrick Mboma connected in the 75th minute and Mayer scored the winner off a setup by Patrice Abanda.

Khalaf Almutairi had lifted Kuwait into a 1-1 tie in the 63rd minute, and Jamal Abdulrahman added the other Kuwaiti goal on a header with three minutes remaining.

Alnoudji headed in Cameroon's first goal on a cross by team captain Geremi Njitap Fotso from the right. But Almutairi took a long pass from Faraj Saeid to tie the score.

Mboma restored the advantage for Cameroon by connecting a pass from the left by Abanda.


Germany 3, Australia 0--Germany disappointed the home crowd with a decisive victory at Canberra, Australia.

Inka Grings angled in a left-footed shot from close range in the 35th minute to open the scoring, then set up the clincher for midfielder Bettina Wiegmann in the 71st minute.

Renate Lingor added a third goal a minute into extra time when she sent a long drive off the hands of goalkeeper Tracey Wheeler and into the net.

A vocal capacity crowd of 23,000 packed into Bruce Stadium to cheer on the host team. The heavy security at the stadium, where all ticket holders and staff had to undergo bag searches and walk through metal detectors, caused long delays at the turnstile, causing thousands of spectators to miss the kickoff.

Brazil 2, Sweden 0--Goals by Pretinha and Katia da Silva lifted Brazil, which outplayed the Swedes with clever ball control and slick passing and had the look of a medals contender at at Melbourne.

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