Argentina, Colombia and Greece Win World Cup Openers
There weren’t any upsets as Europe and South America began qualifying for the 1998 World Cup.
Argentina beat Bolivia 3-1, Colombia beat Paraguay 1-0 and Greece defeated Slovenia 2-0 Wednesday night. In all, there were 21 internationals, including seven World Cup qualifiers.
Ariel Ortega scored twice and Gabriel Batistuta scored once for Argentina, knocked out by Romania 3-2 in the second round of the 1994 World Cup.
In other qualifiers, Uruguay beat Venezuela 2-0, Ecuador took Peru 4-1, Yugoslavia downed the Faeroe Islands 3-1 and Macedonia defeated Liechtenstein 3-0.
Most of the top teams in Europe played exhibition games rather than World Cup matches in preparation for the European Championship in June. Among those, Germany beat the Netherlands 1-0 in a game marked by about four dozen arrests and clashes among riot police and fans.
Defending World Cup champion Brazil rallied from a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 at South Africa, and England played a scoreless tie against Croatia.
Also, Bosnia-Herzegovina played a scoreless tie at home against Albania in Bosnia’s first home game following the 4 1/2-year civil war.
Argentina 3, Bolivia 1
At Buenos Aires, before 75,000 fans at River Plate Stadium, Ortega scored in the eighth and 18th minutes. Julio Baldivieso scored for Bolivia with three minutes left in the first half, but Batistuta restored the lead to two goals five minutes into the second.
Colombia 1, Paraguay 0
At Baranquilla, Colombia, Faustino Asprilla scored nine minutes into the second half to lead Colombia.
Uruguay 2, Venezuela 0
At Caracas, Paolo Montero scored nine minutes into the second half and Gustavo Poyet scored 17 minutes later for Uruguay.
Daniel Fonseca, Uruguay’s top player, was ejected for receiving two yellow cards and will be suspended for Uruguay’s qualifier against Peru on June 2.
Ecuador 4, Peru 1
At Guayaquil, Eduardo Hurtado scored twice in the second half for Ecuador.
Following a scoreless first half, Hurtado connected on a 40-yard shot nine minutes into the second half. Roberto Palacios tied the score in the 61st.
Maximo Tenorio put Ecuador ahead 2-1 in the 65th, Jose Gavica scored in the 78th and Hurtado scored again in the final minute.
Greece 2, Slovenia 0
At Athens, Daniel Batista scored 11 minutes into the second half and Demis Nikolaidis struck 10 minutes later.
Yugoslavia 3, Faeroe Islands 1
At Belgrade, Yugoslavia played its first official game since Oct. 16, 1991. It had been banned for 4 1/2 years because of United Nations. sanctions imposed during the war in Bosnia.
Dejan Savicevic scored in the third and 30th minutes and Savo Milosevic connected in the 38th before 20,000 at Red Star Stadium. John Petersen scored seven minutes into the second half for the Faeroes.
Macedonia 3, Liechtenstein 0
At Skopke, Macedonia, Saso Milosevski scored in the eighth minute, Boban Babunski connected on a penalty kick four minutes into the second half and Srdjan Zaharijevski added a goal in the final minute.
Germany 1, Netherlands 0
At Rotterdam, Jurgen Klinsmann scored on a penalty kick in the 18th minute after Danny Blind headed the ball back toward his own goal and defender Winston Bogarde pulled down Oliver Bierhoff as he went for ball.
Dennis Bergkamp failed on a penalty kick in the 32nd minute for the Netherlands. Andreas Koepke saved the kick and Bergkamp failed to connect on the rebound.
Brazil 3, South Africa 2
At Johannesburg, World Cup hero Bebeto scored the winning goal against the African champions on a bicycle kick with five minutes remaining following a cross from Ze Maria.
South Africa took a 2-0 lead on goals by Phil Masinga in the 25th minute and Doctor Khumalo in the 42nd. Brazil, unbeaten in 23 consecutive games, tied the score in the second half on goals by Favio Conceicao in the 56th and Rivaldo in the 68th.
Bosnia 0, Albania 0
At Zenica, about 10,000 fans attended the game in the central Bosnian town 30 miles northwest of Sarajevo. War damage at the Sarajevo stadium still has not been repaired.
Seventeen of the 18 players on Bosnia were Muslim, with no Serbs and one Bosnian Croat.