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Dominican Republic 3, Aruba 2

March 24, 1996

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ The Dominican Republic won its first World Cup qualifying game, beating Aruba 3-2 Sunday in the first leg of the home-and-home series.

In the 2,500th World Cup qualifier ever, Lalo Rodriguez, Ramon Mariano and Nelson Pena scored for the Dominicans, who were eliminated by Puerto Rico in the first round of qualifying for the 1994 tournament.

The second leg of the total-goals series will be next Sunday at Oranjested, Aruba. The winner of the series plays the Netherlands Antilles in the second round of qualifying in the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Before a sellout crowd at Olympic Stadium, Rodriguez scored on a 15-yard shot in the 28th minute off a pass from Omar Trigo. Mariano made it 2-0 just five minutes into the second half, beating goalkeeper Galoud Pantophet on a 25-yard chip shot after a breakout pass from Alberto Jimenez.

Aruba, which skipped qualifying for the 1994 tournament, pulled to 2-1 when Raymond Daveelard scored in the 60th minute, but Pena scored off a set play with 17 minutes to go.

Ryan Malnberg scored for Aruba with six minutes left, beating goalkeeper Junior Mejia.

The Dominicans had been 0-3-1 in qualifiers, losing twice to Haiti in qualifying for the 1990 tournament and going 0-1-1 against Puerto Rico.

CONCACAF gets three spots in the 1998 World Cup, with Mexico and the United States heavily favored to claim two.

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