Argentina edge Ivory Coast

Argentina held on for a 2-1 win over World Cup debutants Ivory Coast in the first World Cup Group C match in Hamburg on Saturday. Goals by Hernan Crespo and Javier Saviola gave them a 2-0 lead at half-time but a late Didier Drogba strike tested Argentinian nerves to the final whistle.

Argentina captain Juan Pablo Sorin praised his team's mentality during the win.
"I liked our attitude, always looking for good results but quiet," the defender told reporters. "A good attitude.

"We lacked some depth, we felt tired, but the team worked fine. The first match was a key one."
Ivory Coast coach Henri Michel urged his team to stay positive.
"The players are disappointed but we should not focus on the negative," said the Frenchman.

"We should try to look at this match and analyse things and continue to work with confidence so our goalscoring gets better.
"Now we have to work on our strengths and hope we can do better against Netherlands (on Friday)."
Ivory Coast created plently of chances when taking the game to Argentina in a tantalising contest but a combination of excellent defending by Roberto Ayala and goalkeeping by Roberto Abbondanzieri kept the African Nations runners-up at bay.
Argentina were unlucky not to open the scoring before Hernan Crespo's finish during a goalmouth scramble following a 24th minute corner. A Roberto Ayala header looked to have crossed the line after being fumbled by Ivorian 'keeper Jean-Jacques Tizié, but play was waved on.
Argentina had another goal disallowed later on, although Maxi Rodriguez was just offside when he latched onto a loose ball after Juan Roman Riquelme's original shot.

Ivory Coast had actually created more of the chances in the first half, Bonaventure Kalou missing a gilt-edged chance when heading straight at Abbondanzieri from close range, but good possession play and super running was unfortunately not matched by the final ball or finish, and could have counted themselves unfortunate to go two down when a superbly crafted move and Riquelme through ball was stroked home by Saviola on 38 minutes.
The second period actually saw Argentina dominate the game for much of the half, Riquelme majestically pulling the strings with Esteban Cambiasso impressive holding alongside Javier Mascherano, who was similarly disciplined in the role he occupies for Brazilian club Corinthians.
Argentina had a scare when Drogba turned and finished on 83 minutes after a late period of incessant Ivorian pressure, but they held out for the win and set the standard for a tournament that they surely feel they can win.

Man of the match: Juan Roman Riquelme - one of the men to watch in this tournament, his guile and eye for a pass gave Argentina the edge in midfield.

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An amazing match in Dortmund saw FIFA World Cup™ debutants Trinidad and Tobago hold Sweden to a goalless draw.

An injury to the Soca Warriors' first-choice goalkeeper Kelvin Jack shortly before kick-off gave West Ham United's Shaka Hislop a chance to shine on the world's biggest stage. Hislop did that - and more - as the 37-year-old pulled off a string of superb saves to deny Ibrahimovic, Larsson and Co.
The final scoreline was made all the more incredible as Trinidad and Tobago, ranked 47th in the world, compared to Sweden's 16, had Avery John sent-off in the 46th minute for two bookable offences.
At full-time, the Caribbean side's players and supporters danced for joy, while Lars Lagerback's men slumped to the turf in disappointment. The match may not have produced any goals, but the drama was there for all to see.
The Match:

5‘:Roared on by thousands of supporters clad in yellow, Sweden began the match on the attack. Freddie Ljungberg was brought down by Dwight Yorke on the edge of the box and Henrik Larsson crashed the resulting free kick narrowly wide.
15‘:Trinidad and Tobago’s Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker had told his players to perform with a smile on their faces but it was the Scandinavians who looked amused as they watched Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s acrobatic effort sail inches over.

22‘:The elegant Juventus player was in the thick of the action and after being sent clear by Larsson, he just failed to pick out his fellow forward with a delicate centre.
34‘:The smallest nation in the finals, with a population of just 1.1m, Trinidad and Tobago were certainly not being overawed on their debut. Fearless in defence, they were not afraid to throw men forward and from one fast counter-attack Carlos Edwards forced Rami Shabaan into a good save with a powerful strike from fully 30 yards.
38‘:The game was opening up and back at the other end, Ljungberg found space down the right to cross, but Larsson, leaping at the back post, could not quite guide his header on target.
40‘:Shaka Hislop, who had replaced Kelvin Jack in the starting line-up moments before kick-off, was twice called into action inside two minutes as Sweden pressed before the break. First he tipped over a fierce drive from Christian Wilhelmsson struck with the outside of the boot. Then the West Ham United keeper flung himself to his left to parry a half-volley from Ibrahimovic after the tall forward had brought the ball down superbly on the edge of the area.

Seeing red:

46‘:Avery John became the first player to be sent off in the finals after he received a second yellow a minute into the second period for a two-footed challenge on the lively Wilhelmsson.
58’:Playing against 10 men, Sweden were still struggling to find gaps in the Caribbean islanders’ solid defence. Erik Edman bent in a teasing cross but Ibrahimovic, rising six yards out, could not keep his header down.
59’:Lars Lagerback’s men were given a scare moments later. Finding himself without support on the edge of the box, substitute Glenn Cornell decided to try his luck and watched his rasping drive crash off the crossbar.
59’:Back at the other end, Ibrahimovic, who was moving well across the line, bought some space at the back post with a feint but could find no way past Hislop.
76’: Thrown on to grab the elusive goal, substitute Markus Allback found the ball was rolling equally unkindly. The Copenhagen striker had four chances in as many minutes. With one, he shot tamely at Hislop from the edge of the box and after latching onto Larsson’s pass with another, he could only poke the ball against Hislop’s body from 10 yards.

82’: Sweden were pouring forward now but there was no-one on the end of an enticing centre from another substitute, Mattias Jonson.
88’: Heroically, Trinidad and Tobago were chasing and charging down everything. Ibrahimovic, picking up the ball on the right-side of the area, found some space late on but he, like the droves of Swedish supporters, watched agonisingly as the final shot whistled over.
In conclusion:

Competing in their first finals, Trinidad and Tobago pulled off a famous result, showing tenacity and no lack of tactical discipline to hold the more favoured Sweden to a goalless draw. Playing against 10 men for virtually the entire second half, Scandinavia’s sole representatives were unable to break through and will now have to regroup for their next match against Paraguay.

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England got their FIFA World Cup™ campaign off to a winning start in Frankfurt with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Paraguay on Saturday, 11 June 2006.
However, they did not have their own way against the South Americans, who gave Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men some nervous moments during the 90 minutes.
The only goal of the game came in the fourth minute when David Beckham’s free-kick skimmed off the head of Carlos Gamarra and into the net.
Paraguay pushed for an equaliser in the second half, but despite their best efforts, a goal was not forthcoming and most now turn their attentions to their next Group B game against Sweden in Berlin next Thursday.

The match:
4’: England took an early lead, courtesy of an own goal by Carlos Gamarra. David Beckham curled in a free-kick from the left flank and the Paraguay captain inadvertently flicked the ball into the net with his head, beating the despairing dive of goalkeeper Justo Villar (1-0).
8’: Villar’s unhappy start to the tournament was compounded when he raced out to clear an England attack, but in kicking the ball away from Michael Owen he injured himself and Aldo Bobadilla came off the bench to replace him in goal.
10‘: Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard, passed fit for the match after struggling with a hip injury in the build-up, tried his luck with a right-footed volley but the effort flashed over.
13‘: Bobadilla conceded an indirect free-kick on the edge of his area but Frank Lampard failed to make the most of the chance.
17‘: Carlos Paredes tried to inject some life into Paraguay with a drive from 20 yards, but it passed harmlessly wide of England goalkeeper Paul Robinson’s post.
19‘: Cristian Riveros had a shot on target for Paraguay, but Robinson dived low to his left to smother it well. Gerrard picked up the game’s first yellow card for the challenge he made in trying to close Riveros down.
22‘: Lampard played a neat one-two with Crouch and forced Bobadilla into a save with a fierce drive.
43‘: After a relatively quiet passage of the game, Beckham tried to find his range from open play with a curling shot from 18 metres, but it flashed just past the post and out for a goal kick.
47+‘: Nelson Valdez had Paraguay’s best chance of the first half in stoppage time after picking up a loose ball inside the penalty area and firing in a right-foot shot, although he failed to hit the target. 53‘: The second half began at a much slower pace, with the heat in Frankfurt having taken its toll on the players. Roberto Acuna tried to catch the England defence off-guard with a quick free-kick for , but it rolled through to Robinson without troubling him at all.
58‘: Joe Cole brought Bobadilla into action with a low drive, but the Paraguayan was equal to it with a smart stop.
59‘: An anxious moment came for Robinson when he failed to gather Carlos Bonet’s cross at the first attempt. Paredes tried to hook the ball over the onrushing keeper but could not keep the ball down.

64‘: Valdez turned inside Gerrard and sent in a decent shot with his left foot, but the effort went straight into Robinson’s arms. The Tottenham keeper brought a collective smile to the crowd when his towering clearance bounced back off the giant video screen hanging over the centre circle in Frankfurt.
73‘: With England struggling to find the rhythm they managed in the early part of the game, Lampard injected some dynamism back into their play with a stinging attempt which brought the best out of Bobadilla, who palmed the ball over the bar.
88‘: Lampard once again tested Bobadilla with a powerful shot, but the Paraguay keeper denied him by tipping the ball round the post for a corner.
In conclusion:

England got the opening win they were looking for, but the performance in the second half was less than convincing. Paraguay can take heart from their battling display, though they had no reward for their efforts.

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Luis Suarez’s Ecuador side began their 2006 FIFA World Cup™ campaign with a convincing 2-0 win over Poland in Gelsenkirchen on Friday, 9 June 2006.
A hard-fought encounter witnessed goals either side of half-time for La Tri. Carlos Tenorio profited from Agustin Delgado’s flicked header in the 24th minute to give the South Americans the lead.
With ten minutes of normal time remaining, the provider turned goalscorer as Delgado side-footed home from close range to put Ecuador second in the Group A table behind Germany on goal difference.

The match:

5': The balmy late spring conditions in Gelsenkirchen contrasted with those in Barcelona where the teams met in a friendly last year just ahead of the Final Draw for Germany 2006. On that evening, a torrential downpour did not prevent Poland from scoring a convincing 3-0 victory. However, Ecuador began this first competitive fixture between the nations brightly and Luis Valencia had the first attempt, screwing a 20 yarder wide of the target.

11': It was a fast opening with the excitement generated by the teams' colourful and boisterous followings adding to the tempo. While Ecuador goalkeeper Cristian Mora's painted face caught the eye, Artur Boruc was the busier of the two keepers. The Celtic custodian had to be alert to stop a speculative 30-yard volley from Segundo Castillo.
24': Chances were few and far between but just as it appeared the game would become a midfield battle, the South Americans struck in a straightforward fashion. Ulises de la Cruz hurled in a long throw from the right, Agustin Delgado provided the flick-on and Tenorio, reading the move to perfection, raced in to guide his header into the far corner of the net. (0-1)
29': On top now, Ecuador almost doubled their lead with a copycat move. De la Cruz threw the ball in, Tenorio, this time at the near post, muscled his way to the goal-line and cut the ball back but Delgado, six yards out, could not keep his effort down.
38': Boruc was called into action twice in four minutes as Ecuador refused to sit on their lead. He kept out a thunderous 35-yard free-kick from Edison Mendez before holding on well to Valencia's effort from the right-hand side of the box.

Plenty of spirit:

46' The legions of Polish supporters that had travelled across Germany for the game saw their team dominate possession at the beginning of the second half but they were getting no joy from an Ecuadorian defence prepared to throw their bodies into every challenge.
62’:Now playing on the break, La Tri almost grabbed the second goal. Delgado turned neatly on the edge of the box, raced towards goal before tumbling under the challenge of Mariusz Jop. The referee waved play on as the hearts of Polish fans skipped a beat.
73’: Pawel Janas' men were unable to create a clear-cut opening while the sights of Ecuador’s forwards were set firmly between the goalposts. Another Mendez effort from distance forced Boruc into more action as the game became increasingly stretched.
80’:The South Americans doubled their advantage with a devastating move. Mendez split the Polish defence with an inch-perfect pass, substitute Ivan Kaviedes, unselfishly, drew Boruc before squaring to Delgado, who, completely unmarked, side-footed the ball into the empty net.
86’: With the clock ticking down, Poland twice came within a whisker of halving the deficit. First Ireneusz Jelen saw his left-foot snapshot strike the bar, then another substitute, Pawel Brozek, watched agonisingly as his curling effort from the right edge of the box crashed off the post to safety.

In conclusion:

Learning from their debut at the FIFA World Cup four years ago, Ecuador produced a highly efficient team performance to deservedly take the three points in their opening game. Poland, more direct and anxious, will need to improve if they are to take something from their eagerly awaited fixture against hosts Germany.

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Flaying Start

Two goals from Miroslav Klose helped hosts Germany to a 4-2 win in the opening game of the World Cup in Munich on Friday. Philipp Lahm opening the scoring with a sixth-minute rocket before Klose's brace and a stunning strike from Torsten Frings five minutes from time.

Paulo Wanchope kept the Costa Ricans in the match with two strikes either side of half-time.
"It is always important to start off with a win," Lahm told reporters after the match. "You could see what euphoria there was in the stadium.
"Part of the victory should be credited to the fans. They were the 12th man on the pitch."
With Michael Ballack being left out of the starting line-up by coach Juergen Klinsmann, many feared Germany would be left open in midfield.

But any worries subsided after just six minutes, Lahm cutting inside from the left to fire an unstoppable shot into Costa Rica goalkeeper's Jose Francisco Porras' top left-hand corner.
And with the Germans pushing forward for a second, their defensive frailties were there for all to see as Wanchope beat the offside trap to slot the ball past Jens Lehmann and into the German net.
But just five minutes later, the Germans moved back into the lead. Frings played Bernd Schneider in down the right, and the right winger cut the ball inside to Bastian Schweinsteiger, who cut the ball across the face of the goal for Klose to tap in.

But the Germans' defending was as bad as their attacking good, with Costa Rica missing a golden opportunity to equalise just after the break, Danny Fonseca turning a free header wide after being found unmarked by Walter Centeno.
And the Germans punished Alexandre Guimaraes' side in the 61st minute. Borowski found Lahm on the left, and the Bayern Munich wing-back found Klose at the back-post, who struck the ball home after seeing his intial effort saved by Porras.

But 12 minutes later, Lehmann was beaten again. Centeno left the defence static with an outrageous flick through to Wanchope, who flicked the ball past the German goalkeeper.
And it was only when Frings took a Schweinsteiger pass and rifled the ball into the top corner from 30 yards that the home fans could breathe a sigh of relief.
"At such a mega event like the World Cup, we've got to put this behind us quickly," Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann told ZDF television.
"The players can have a little glass of beer tonight if they want but our focus has to turn right away to the next match (against Poland on Wednesday). We're happy with this start."

Man of the match: Torsten Frings (GER) - With Ballack out, Frings didn't put a foot wrong in midfield, capping off a fine match with a stunning goal.

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World Cup Opening Ceremony

The Quadriga on top of the Brandenburg Gate seen next to an illuminated giant Soccer Globe, designed by Austrian artist Andre Heller, during the officThe Quadriga on top of the Brandenburg Gate seen next to an illuminated giant Soccer Globe, designed by Austrian artist Andre Heller, during the official opening ceremony on the Paris Place in Berlin on Thursday, June 1, 2006. The Globe is part of the official culture program of the upcoming soccer World Cup and hosts an ehibition about soccer.
An unidentified artist in a colourful costume performs in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Thursday, June 8, 2006, one day ahead of the openAn unidentified artist in a colourful costume performs in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Thursday, June 8, 2006, one day ahead of the opening match of the soccer World Cup.
Volunteers practice holding a giant tarp with the World Cup logo and slogans at the World Cup Stadium in Cologne, Germany, Thursday June 8, 2006 aheadVolunteers practice holding a giant tarp with the World Cup logo and slogans at the World Cup Stadium in Cologne, Germany, Thursday June 8, 2006 ahead of the opening Group D soccer game between Angola and Portugal on Sunday. The other teams in the group are Iran and Mexico.
Bavarian folk dancers perform in front of the FIFA World Cup stadium in Munich, southern Germany, Wednesday, June 7, 2006 in preparation of the openiBavarian folk dancers perform in front of the FIFA World Cup stadium in Munich, southern Germany, Wednesday, June 7, 2006 in preparation of the opening ceremony to be held on June 9, 2006 prior to the opening match Germany against Costa Rica.

Jim Kerr, leadsinger of British pop group Simple Minds, performs during the opening ceremony for the official Berlin fan party in front of the BrandenJim Kerr, leadsinger of British pop group Simple Minds, performs during the opening ceremony for the official Berlin fan party in front of the Brandenburg gate in Berlin Wednesday, June 7, 2006. The city of Berlin installed a fan mile for the upcoming Soccer World Cup where fans from all nations without tickets can view and celebrate.

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Indonesian & Worldcup

A man decorates a paper-made statue kicking a football during a parade to celebrate the opening of FIFA World Cup football tournament due in Germany, in Denpasar, on Bali island, 09 June 2006. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on soccer-mad Indonesians not to skip work or perform poorly because of late nights watching the World Cup. A six-hour time difference between Germany and Indonesia means that many matches will be broadcast into the early hours of the morning -- translating into bleary eyes for millions of Indonesian football fans in the month ahead.

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Welcome to Germany

A German police officer welcomes Polish soccer fans waving flags and scarves out of the windows during a short stop of a extra train going from Warszaw to Gelsenkirchen, at the German-Polish border Friday morning, June 9, 2006 in the station of Frankfurt (Oder). In Gelsenkirchen Friday night, the Polish national team will play its first match of the World Cup against Ecuador.

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Iranian tactic

Iranian tactic in FIFA World Cup
note: these dots are not 10 players. they are only one player: ali karimi.

They call him the "Wizard of Tehran" and the "Asian Maradona" and Iran are pinning their World Cup hopes on the midfield magic of Ali Karimi.
A nation trembled when Karimi, 27, picked up an ankle injury playing for Bayern Munich in early March. State television repeatedly showed the talismanic playmaker being helped from a snow-dusted pitch.
However, he is expected to have regained full fitness by the start of he finals and Asia's "Player of the Year 2004″ will present the biggest headache to first-round opponents Portugal, Mexico and Angola.
Karimi is a balletic dribbler, dancing through robust defences, and is armed with a sharp instinct for finding the back of the net. He was the top scorer in the 2004 Asian Cup and scored on his Champions' League debut with Bayern.
He told the Bayern Munich website his best was still to come, but remained realistic about Iran's World Cup prospects.
"We want to put on a good show for the large Iranian community in Germany and go back with our heads held high," said the flair player who was first head-hunted while playing street football in an industrial satellite town west of Tehran.
"I do not mean we will win the trophy, I am not that unrealistic, but getting through the group stage would be a fantastic achievement," he added.
Karimi is perhaps the closest thing Iran have to a superstar. He looms down from huge motorway billboards advertising cooking utensils, offering a little wizardry in the kitchen.

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Bigamy affair

In April 2006, German tabloid BILD claimed that Mahdavikia, already married with his first wife Sepideh, had married a second wife named Samira while being in his native Iran, thus practising bigamy. Both women knew nothing of each other and were baffled to find this out. Samira has claimed that she is also pregnant with his son.
Bigamy is outlawed in Germany, but as the second marriage was made in Iran, where it is legal, Mahdavikia is not subject to persecution. However, Mahdavikia was under intense public scrutiny in Germany. He himself has stated that he made a "big mistake", was "lured into a trap" and ended the affair after a short while. Samira said she married him after he told her he was divorced (which would be a lie) and that he just exploited her. Mahdavikia plans to prosecute Samira for slander.

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Iranian Women Fan

"Freedom is my right, Iran is my country"
Iran qualified for the World Cup by beating Bahrain 1-0 in a match in Tehran. The win led to mass street celebrations across the country. The game also represented a victory for Iranian women, after a group of them pushed their way into the stadium to watch the event. Women in Iran have been barred from attending soccer matches since the establishment of the Islamic republic some 26 years ago.
Some 100 Iranian women watched a soccer match inside Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) stadium, surrounded by some 80,000 men.

In Iran, it is considered un-Islamic and incorrect for women to attend men's sporting events. Only in rare cases are foreign women, VIPs, female referees, or female football players allowed into sports stadiums in Iran.
Journalist Parastou Dokuhaki was one of those women who watched match. She said she wanted to watch the game "to see how it feels." She told that the women blocked the way into the stadium and kept chanting and singing until they were allowed in. The women chanted, "Freedom is my right, Iran is my country" and "How many steps toward freedom?"

Mahboubeh Abbas-Gholizadeh, a women's rights activist, was also among those who went to Azadi stadium. But she was not able to watch the game. Her leg was broken when guards tried to push her and the other women out by closing a gate
But Abbas-Gholizadeh told that it was worth it.
"When it comes to women's rights, I think it was worth it. A leg gets broken, but maybe [it will lead] to the change in the law," Abbas-Gholizadeh said. "Or an issue regarding women's rights might be brought to attention. Violence is bad. It's bad to have to pay a price. But I don't think it has been any different elsewhere in the world, where people have also had to obtain their rights themselves."
She said their presence in the stadium marked a symbolic victory in the fight against restrictions imposed on women in Iran.
"Our argument is not only limited to entering stadiums, even though our young girls have for years been hope-sick to use it," Abbas-Gholizadeh said. "But we have [also] more general demands, like using public city spaces for men and women equally. The segregation that is occurring is a violation of citizen's rights. The ideal behind this is that activists in the women's movement in Iran are trying to put into practice women's rights in different places symbolically, and the issue of stadiums is one of them."
She said she hopes the move will persuade Iranian officials to lift the ban on women attending male sporting events.

Reza, a young soccer fan in Tehran, said he believes women should be allowed into stadiums. He said the presence of women would help calm the atmosphere.
"It's their right, like others. I think it's really good," Reza said. "Recently, the atmosphere has not been very good in the stadium. People are cursing and so on. And I think if women were there, the spectators would refrain from [using foul language]."
Reza said that after yesterday's game, during which Iran qualified for the World Cup in Germany, boys and girls cheered and danced together on several streets in Tehran.
More significantly, some girls even removed their head scarves. Women in Iran are strictly required to wear the Islamic hijab and to cover their hair and body.

Some observers said officials appear ready to soften their approach to social issues ahead of Iran's presidential election. Iranian leaders are eager for a large voter turnout on 17 June to prove the establishment's legitimacy.
Iran's eight presidential candidates are trying to secure the female vote by expressing support for women's rights. Some women had already been invited to attend yesterday's game as guests of Mohsen Mehralizadeh, the head of Iran's Sports Organization and a candidate for president.
Despite some campaigning by supporters of presidential candidates, yesterday's street celebrations remained largely free of politics. "Who cares about the elections?" a young woman was quoted by Reuters as saying. "We're going to the World Cup!"

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