Chile moves into prime position, six more European teams qualify
The Associated Press
Oct. 13, 1997
A day after England, Germany and four other European teams qualified for the World Cup, Chile moved into prime position to get South America's final spot in the tournament, routing Peru 4-0 behind three goals by Marcelo Salas.
With Argentina (8-2-5), Paraguay (9-4-2) and Colombia (8-4-3) already qualified, Chile (6-5-4) moved into fourth place with 22 points, ahead of Peru (6-5-4) on goal difference. The top four South American teams advance to the 32-nation tournament in France along with Brazil, the defending champion.
Chile can clinch a berth with a victory at home against Bolivia on Nov. 16, and can also qualify with a tie or loss if Peru stumbles in its home game against Paraguay that day.
In other South American games Sunday, Ecuador (6-6-3) beat visiting Bolivia 1-0 to keep its slim hopes alive, Uruguay (5-7-3) was eliminated with a scoreless tie at Argentina, and Paraguay beat Venezuela 1-0.
In the North and Central American and Caribbean region, Mexico failed to clinch with a 2-2 tie at Canada but pushed the Canadians to the verge of elimination.
At Santiago, Salas scored in the 13th, 83rd and 88th minutes, while Pedro Reyes scored in the 58th. Peru could have clinched with a victory.
At Guayaquil, Ariel Graziani scored for Ecuador on a free kick in the 27th minute. For Ecuador to qualify, it would have to win at Uruguay on Nov. 16 and hope that neither Chile nor Peru win their final games.
At Buenos Aires, Juan Sebastian Veron hit the crossbar twice for Argentina. Uruguay has not qualified since the 1990 tournament in Italy.
At Asuncion, Felix Torres scored in the 69th minute for Paraguay. Venezuela was outscored 41-8 in qualifying.
Mexico could have qualified with a victory against Canada at Edmonton, Alberta, but still is virtually assured of a berth. Three of the six teams in the regional finals will qualify, and Mexico (4-0-3) needs just one more point from its three remaining games.
Jamaica (3-2-3) is second with 12 points, followed by the United States (2-1-4) with 10, El Salvador (2-3-3) with nine, Costa Rica (2-4-2) with eight and Canada (1-4-3) with six.
Mexico, which next plays the United States at home on Nov. 2, went ahead on Enrique Alfaro's goal in the eighth minute, but Carlo Corazzin tied the score in the 55th and Alex Bunbury put Canada ahead in the 64th. Ramon Ramirez tied it a again for Mexico in the 85th.
Canada needs to beat the United States on Nov. 9 and Costa Rica on Nov. 16, giving it 12 points, then hope other countries do not overtake it for second or third place.
``It's like when you sleep and dream about playing the Mexicans, you are winning 2-1 as the game winds down,'' Canada captain Randy Samuel said. ``But dreams aren't supposed to end like a nightmare, and that's what happened here today.''
In European games Saturday, Germany and the Netherlands were unconvincing in qualifying and Italy was forced into the eight-nation playoffs.
Meanwhile, England's triumphant return to the World Cup was accompanied by the once familiar sight of its fans clashing with police.
Germany, playing at home in Hanover and needing only a tie to advance, was even with Albania until Oliver Bierhoff scored his second goal of the game two minutes into injury time for a 4-3 victory. That left Ukraine in the playoffs.
Thomas Helmer and Olaf Marschall also scored for the Germans.
``We were a generous host,'' Germany coach Berti Vogts said, a reference to his team's sloppy defending.
The Dutch played a scoreless tie at home against Turkey despite fielding one of the most talented forwards in the world: Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Kluivert.
The Turks, who had only an outside chance of gaining a playoff place, made life difficult by crowding the midfield. But a team as talented as the Dutch still should have won in style against a team which still finished third behind Belgium.
England, needing a point to qualify, yielded few chances to Italy in a scoreless tie.
Paul Ince, who spent two season withs Internazionale of Milan, responded to being named England captain with an inspirational performance. He was forced to leave the field midway through the first half following a collision with Italy's Demetrio Albertini and returned after receiving six stitches. Ince finished the game with a heavily bloodstained shirt and his head swathed in bandage.
``I've played in a lot of big games, cup finals, done a lot of good things, but this meant more than any of them,'' said Ince, who won league and cup titles with Manchester United. ``That shows how much we felt for the game. For me it's right up there with everything I've done in my career.''
The sight of Italian police baton-charging England fans inside the Olympic stadium took some of the sheen off the English triumph.
Thousands of fans who bought tickets originally intended for Italian spectators began trading missiles with rival supporters and violence flared when the police moved in to keep them apart.
On Sunday, English fans and officials representing the English Football Association blamed security and ticketing arrangements as well as an overreaction by the police although they admitted many of the English fans were drunk.
Denmark and Austria were the two other group winners to qualify Saturday along with Scotland, which gained a place as the best runnerup.
Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Russia, Yugoslavia, Belgium, Ireland and Ukraine will go into the draw today in Zurich, Switzerland, for playoff games Oct. 29 and Nov. 15.