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17 June 1998 Group B Montpellier - Stade de La Mosson
Italy Cameroon
Italian marksman Christian Vieri grabbed two late goals as Italy climbed to the top of the Group B table following this 3-0 victory over Cameroon in the Stade De La Mosson, Montpellier. However, the scoreline flattered Cesare Maldini's side who struggled to kill off the Africans' who were reduced to ten-men just before half-time when Raymond Kalla Nkongo was red-carded for a two-footed tackle on Di Biagio. As in their first group game against Chile the Italians got off to a flying start, with Vieri seeing a goalbound lob cleared off the line before Di Biagio, in as a replacement for Di Matteo, headed his side in front after just eight minutes with the 100th goal scored by Italy in World Cup finals. The Africans at this stage looked indisciplined, disorganised and stunned as the European side continued to assert their authority especially in the midfield with Dino Baggio, Albertini and Di Bagio controlling affairs. However, gradually Cameroon played their way back into the match before Kalla Nkongo's 43rd-minute dismissal for a rash tackle on Di Biagio, which on second viewing showed the big defender definitely playing the ball. Claude Leroy replaced the ineffective Samuel Ipoua with Joseph-Desire Job at the start of the second half as the Lions of Africa began a fantastically brave attempt to rescue the game. The substitute forced Pagliuca into a spectacular save on 55 minutes from his 18-yard right-foot shot seemingly destined for the top corner and the Italians were blatantly unnerved by the aggression of the Africans going forward. Amazingly for 20 minutes it was all Cameroon who forced a succession of corners and peppered the Italian goal with Italy unable to make the advantage of their extra man tell. And it was not until Cesare Maldini brought on the fresh legs of Di Matteo and Del Piero just after the hour mark that the balance of power tilted back into Italy's favour. Del Piero came on for Roberto Baggio, who never seemed to fancy the challenge after being clattered early on by Pierre Njanka, and his extra pace in attack was significant. Cameroon's brave resistance, epitomised by a wonderful display by Pierre Wome, came to an end when Vieri scored his second goal of the tournament after 75 minutes and the same player then became joint leading scorer on three goals along with Marcelo Salas of Chile with a minute remaining. Italy head Group B with four points from their two matches whilst the Cameroons must beat Chile to stand any chance of progressing to the second stage.

(1-0) Di Biaggio (8). Roberto Baggio altered the angle of delivery from a short left-wing corner, which caught the Cameroon defence napping, and his pacy cross was met by the midfielder who glanced a perfect header across the 'keeper Songo'o and into the far corner of the net from eight yards.

(2-0) Vieri (75). Moriero surged through from a central midfield position to slide a pass into the path of the striker down the right side of the box, and Vieri made it two goals in two games with a glorious finish, clipping a right-footed shot over the 'keeper and inside the far post from 15 yards.

(3-0) Vieri (89). Wome got in a tangle in attempting to shepherd the ball back to his 'keeper allowing the Italian marksman to nip in front of him and fire home a mishit left-footed shot which bounced over Songo'o and into the middle of the goal from eight yards.

 
 
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Page created by Christakis Ioannou on Thursday, 18 June 1998
 
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