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22 June 1998 Group G Montpellier - Stade de La Mosson
Colombia Tunisia
A near capacity crowd of 35,000 in the Stade de La Mosson, Montpellier were totally captivated by a wonderful advert for world football as Colombia defeated Tunisia 1-0. The scoreline was a far reflection of a marvellously entertaining contest which could easily have ended 6-6 with both sides committed to all-out attack and neither side deserving to lose. It was end-to-end stuff from start to finish with both goalkeepers producing sparkling displays before Colombia's substitute striker Leider Preciado scored the only goal with just seven minutes remaining. Both sides had lost their opening Group G matches and needed all three points from this game to keep their qualification hopes alive. Colombia like to stroke the ball around and play at their own tempo but they were soon knocked out of their stride by the urgency of a tidy Tunisian side. Skandar Souayah began to control the midfield and saw a left-footed shot shave the post on 18 minutes before Colombian defender Wilmer Cabrera saw his header, destined for the top corner, superbly saved by el-Ouaer just four minutes later. It was more like a basketball match with each side taking it in turns to attack and have an attempt to score, which made terrific viewing, but amazingly the game remained scoreless. Tunisian striker, Ben Slimane, saw his 30th-minute diving header pushed against the post and out for a corner by the excellent Farid Mondragon, who continued to celebrate his 27th birthday yesterday with a masterful display. At the other end Adolfo Valencia hit a sceming left-foot volley inches over before Ever Palacios had the chance of the first half, but put a free header into the side-netting just minutes before half-time. After the break Tunisia took a slight hold on the game as Valderrama seemingly took a 20-minute breather on the left touch-line and Zoubele Baya's volley from Ben Slimane's cross whistled inches wide of the target. Colombia coach Hernan Dario Gomez took a gamble by introducing three substitutes with 28 minutes remaining to freshen up his attack and when skipper Valderrama decided it was time to stamp his authority on the game he had willing runners to aim for up front. The leading scorer this season in the Colombian league, Preciado, went close after 72 minutes before the 21-year-old scored the vital goal on 83 minutes following a slide-rule pass from his 36-year-old captain. The goal was hard on Tunisia and especially 'keeper el-Ouaer who had performed heroics and they pressed forward to the last whistle in vain. The result means that the North Africans are eliminated from the competition whilst Colombia have put themselves right back in the picture with the game against England to come in Lens on Friday 26 June.

(1-0) Preciado (83). Carlos Valderrama steered a glorious defence-splitting pass into the young substitute and the striker showed why he was leading scorer in Colombia last season as he controlled well before squeezing home a powerful low left-footed shot that 'keeper el-Ouaer just failed to keep out at his right-hand post.

 
 
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Page created by Christakis Ioannou on Tuesday, 23 June 1998
 
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