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20 June 1998 Group E Bordeaux - Stade Lescure
Belgium Mexico
As the Parc Lescure, Bordeaux sweltered in temperatures over 100 degrees, one of the hottest days in World Cup history saw Belgium and Mexico huff and puff to a 2-2 draw in their Group E encounter. After a disappointing first half with the European side leading 1-0 and Mexico down to ten men following Pardo's red card, the game exploded into life after the break, with Verheyen sent off and goals from Garcia Aspe and Blanco wiping out Wilmots' brace for Belgium. These two sides had met twice before in World Cup finals with Mexico winning on both occasions on home soil in 1970 and 1986, but it was Belgium who started the match by far the more positive of the two sides with Enzo Schifo back in midfield to orchestrate affairs. However, the Latin Americans so nearly took the lead on ten minutes when Jesus Ramirez's left-wing corner totally caught out Belgian 'keeper Filip De Wilde and rebounded off the crossbar to Luis Hernandez whose effort was cleared on the line by Danny Boffin. Belgium, playing with Luc Nilis and Luis Oliveira up front, were being quickly supported by Marc Wilmots from midfield and it was the big number seven, Wilmots, who tested Campos with an 18-yard drive on 12 minutes. After a fairly bright opening the game went rapidly downhill for the remainder of the half with the only real action coming when Jaime Ordiales' attempted cross struck the woodwork after 20 minutes. Then Mexico's Pavel Pardo was sensationally red-carded by Scottish referee Hugh Dallas for a foul on Vital Borkelmans. Whistles and boos from all over the stadium told the story as the game went from bad to worse before the break with players from both sides struggling in the oppressive heat. When Wilmots made it 2-0 to Belgium just three minutes after the interval, following a powerful run through the centre of the Mexican defence, there appeared no way back for the Central Americans who had been very disappointing in attack. However, the game turned after 59 minutes when Gert Verheyen was sent off for upending Ramirez in the box and the skipper Alberto Garcia Aspe made no mistake with a perfect spot-kick. Amazingly three minutes later Mexico were level when the previously inconspicuous Cuauhtemoc Blanco produced an incredible finish following Ramirez' cross from the left. Not surprisingly the game went a little quiet after the fireworks of the previous 20 minutes with both sides appearing happy to settle for a point. Mexico's revival had owed much to the introduction of Jesus Arellano on as a second-half substitute for the ineffective Francisco Palencia, and he almost snatched the winner in the last minute after a wonderful mazy run past three defenders before being denied by great goalkeeping from De Wilde. The result now means that Belgium must beat South Korea by three goals, if Mexico and Holland draw, with both matches kicking-off at the same time (3.00pm BST) on Thursday 25 June.

(1-0) Wilmots (43). Oliveira's corner from the left was driven in with pace across the face of goal with Jorge Campos and Claudio Suarez Sanchez failing to clear, and the big attacking midfielder was left totally unmarked to bundle the ball over the line, off his chest and thigh, through the 'keeper's legs from six yards.

(2-1) Garcia Aspe (56, pen). Verheyen's trip on Ramirez in the box earned him a red card and Mexico a penalty which the midfielder confidently struck home left-footed into the side-netting to De Wilde's left giving the 'keeper no chance with a perfect spot-kick.

(2-0) Wilmots (48). Good play by Verheyen released the number seven who waltzed past Davino and had the luck of the bounce in a challenge with Suarez before planting a right-footed shot low past 'keeper Campos' left hand from 12 yards for his second goal of the match.

(2-2) Blanco (63). Following a mazy crossfield run substitute Arellano played in Ramirez down the left channel and his wonderfully teasing cross was met by a stunning volleyed finish with the outside of his left foot, beating 'keeper De Wilde all ends up at his left-hand post from six yards.

 
 
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Page created by Christakis Ioannou on Saturday, 20 June 1998
 
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