Mexico topped 1998 semifinalist Croatia 1-0 on Cuauhtemoc Blanco's second-half penalty in Niigata, Japan. The win left Croatia with a difficult road to the second round, as the Europeans will need results against Italy and Ecuador to have any hope for advancement into the second round.
Each team squandered chances in the first half, but Blanco did not waste the best chance of the game, scoring from the spot in the 61st minute. Appropriately it was Blanco who earned the penalty kick. Jared Borgetti's backheel got Blanco in behind the defense, and he was brought down by Boris Zivkovic's late challenge. Zivkovic was shown a red card for the tackle.
Croatia pushed for the equalizer in the game's final half hour, but it was Mexico who had the better of the play in the second half and deserved the three points.
Mexico now has Group G games left against Ecuador (June 9) and Italy (June 13) and appear to be in great shape to see the second round.
MEX- Cuauthémoc Blanco (penalty) ..... 61st minute
Croatia: 1-Stipe Pletikosa, 17-Robert Jarni, 21-Robert Kovac, 3-Josip Simunic, 4-Stejpan Tomas, 6-Boris Zivkovic, 10-Nico Kovac, 8-Robert Prosinecki (5-Milan Rapajc), 14-Zvonimir Soldo, 11-Alen Boksic (13-Mario Stanic, 67), 9-Davor Suker (15-Danijel Saric, 64).
Mexico: 1-Oscar Pérez, 16-Salvador Carmona, 7-Ramón Morales, 5-Manuel Vidrio, 19-Gabriel Caballero, 11-Braulio Luna, 4-Rafael Márquez, 13-Sigifredo Mercado, 6-Gerardo Torrado, 10-Cuauthémoc Blanco (17-Francisco Palencia, 79), 9-Jared Borgetti (15-Luis Hernandez, 68).
CRO - Boris Zivkovic (ejection) ... 60th minute
Brazil 2 - Turkey 1
Brazil scored twice in the second half to erase a halftime deficit and earn a deserved 2-1 win against a resilient Turkey team in Ulsan, Korea.
Rivaldo's 87th minute penalty gave Brazil the win in an impressive performance from the South Americans. Star striker Ronaldo, who has missed most of the last two years with a variety of injuries, showed that he is back to the form that made him the world's top player in 1996 and 1997. He scored five minutes into the second half on a wonderful flying volley and was unlucky not to add to his tally before being subbed out in the 73rd minute.
Hasan Sas scored against the run of play, giving Turkey a 1-0 lead in first half injury time. Although Turkey led at the interval, it was Brazil who dominated play in the first half. The attacking triumvirate or Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo looked dangerous all afternoon, and when Brazil finally scored it was Rivaldo who set up Ronaldo. Rivaldo sent in a left-footed cross from the left side and a leaping Ronaldo was able to bounce the ball in over a sliding Rustu Recber. Recber played wonderful in goal, making a variety of diving and sliding saves to keep Turkey level late into the second half.
In the 87th minute, Alpay Ozalan was ejected for tugging down Luizao in the penalty area, and Rivaldo hit the ensuing penalty.
Brazil next face China on June 8 and Turkey face Costa Rica on June 9.
TUR - Hasan Gokhan Sas ..... 45th minute.
BRA - Ronaldo ..... 50.
BRA - Rivaldo (penalty) ..... 87.
Brazil: 1-Marcos, 2-Cafu, 5-Edmílson, 3-Lúcio, 6-Roberto Carlos, 4-Roque Junior, 8-Gilberto Silva, 19-Juninho Paulista (18-Vampeta, 72), 10-Rivaldo, 11-Ronaldinho (17-Denilson,67), 9-Ronaldo (21-Luizao, 73).
Turkey: 1-Rustu Recber (G), 4-Fatih Akyel, 3-Bulent Korkmaz (17-Ilhan Mansiz, 66), 5-Alpay Ozalan, 16-Umit Ozat, 10-Yildiray Basturk (22-Umit Davala, 66), 21-Emre Belozoglu, 8-Tugay Kerimoglu (6-Arif Erdem, 89), 20-Hakan Unsal, 11-Hasan Gokhan Sas, 9-Hakan Sukur.
TUR - Fatih Akyel (caution) 21st minute.
TUR - Hasan Gokhan Sas (caution) ..... 24.
TUR - Alpay Ozalan (caution) ..... 44.
BRA - Denilson (caution) ..... 73.
TUR - Alpay Ozalan (caution) ..... 86
TUR - Alpay Ozalan (ejection) ..... 86
TUR - Hakan Unsal (ejection) ..... 90.
Italy 2 - Ecuador 0
Christian Vieri tallied twice in an impressive first half for the three-time World Cup champs. Francesco Totti set up Vieri in the 7th minute for the first goal, and then Vieri did the work himself for the second, latching onto a long ball and beating a defender and the Ecuadorian goalkeeper. Once Italy took a lead into the half, the Italians were happy to sit on their lead, and the second half lacked the chances and excitement that the first half produced.
Next up for Italy is Croatia, the semifinalists in 1998. The two European squads face off in Ibaraki, Japan, on June 8, while Ecuador battles Mexico - 1-0 winners over Croatia - on June 9 in Miyagi, France.
ITA - Christian Vieri ..... 7th minute.
ITA - Christian Vieri ..... 27.
Italy: 1-Gianluigi Buffon, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 3-Paolo Maldini, 13-Alessandro Nesta, 2-Christian Panucci, 14-Luigi Di Biagio (8-Gennaro Gattuso, 69), 11-Christaino Doni (16-Angelo Di Livio, 65), 17-Damiano Tommasi, 19-Gianluca Zambrotta, 10-Francesco Totti (7-Alessandro Del Piero, 74), 21-Christian Vieri.
Portugal: 1-José Francisco Cevallos, 4-Ulises De La Cruz, 6-Raul Guerron, 3-Iván Hurtado, 2-Augusto Poroso, 10-Alex Aguinaga (18-Carlos Tenorio)(23-Walter Ayovi, 59), 16-Cléber Chalá (7-Nicolas Asencio, 86), 19-Edmundo Mendez, 5-Alfonso Obregon, 20-Edwin Tenorio, 11-Agustín Delgado.
ECU - Augusto Poroso (caution) ..... 14.
ECU - Ulises De La Cruz (caution) ..... 49.
ECU- Cléber Chalá (caution) ..... 54.
ITA - Fabio Cannavaro (caution) ..... 81.