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25 June 1998 Group F Nantes - Stade de La Beaujoire
United States Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia did just enough to see off an enthusiastic USA challenge as they won 1-0 in the Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes, to ensure their place in the last sixteen, whilst the Americans, who return home without a point, will have learnt some valuable lessons from their experience at France 98. A fourth-minute goal headed in from an acute angle by Slobodan Komljenovic proved to be the only goal of the game, and with Germany beating Iran 2-0 in Montpellier, the Yugoslavs finish runners-up in Group F and will now play Holland on Monday night in Toulouse. No-one at this World Cup can ever argue that the Americans played negative football, as once again they started the game brightly and so nearly took an early lead when Frankie Hedjuk's effort rebounded off a post in the first minute. However, just three minutes later the Yugoslavs took the lead when free-kick expert Sinisa Mihajlovic lined up an ambitious attempt to the left of the US goal, but his wonderfully struck effort was only parried by Friedel and Komljenovic sneaked in around the back to nod home from a tight angle. Following the goal it was back to normal for the USA with their 100mph football leading to plenty of goal attempts, but not for the first time this World Cup their quality of finishing and end product was sadly missing. Although McBride's header on 15 minutes did test Ivica Kralj in the Yugoslav goal. Apart from their early strike, the Yugoslavs, so impressive for 70 minutes against Germany in the previous game, were bustled and harried out of their rhythm, with playmakers' Dragan Stojkovic and Vladimir Jugovic affored little or no time to dwell on the ball before being swamped by the white shirts of the US. Predrag Mijatovic limped off after 31 minutes and immediately packed ice around a damaged knee, but his withdrawal proved a blessing in disguise for Yugoslavia as his young replacement, 21-year-old Percia Ognjenovic, provided pace and freshness to the attack. Savo Milosevic saw a powerful run and well-struck shot turned away by Friedel whilst the US continued to bomb forward for the remainder of the half, showing no indication of the apparent player revolt within the American camp. With the half-time score between Germany and Iran 0-0, the way things stood Yugoslavia would go through to the second stage as group winners, and subsequently they started the second half at a far greater tempo, penning the US back in their own half. Suddenly Jugovic came more into the game as the Europeans displayed the passing and possession football for which they are renowned, and with the directness of Ognjenovic forcing the Americans onto the back foot, it was Yugoslavia who looked the more likely to score the second goal in this contest. Slobodan Santrac took off his out-of-sorts skipper Stojkovic on 62 minutes, replacing him with the supremely gifted Dejan Savicevic, who had missed the first two matches through injury. The Yugoslavs appeared to be going in for the kill against a very tired USA, with Mihajlovic and Milosevic both going close. Nevertheless the US still kept plugging away and Brian McBride saw a shot saved by Kralj before substitute Preki, of Yugoslav descendants, grazed the crossbar with a late dipping 22-yard free-kick. Yugoslavia have shown in glimpses that they are a force to be reckoned with and Monday's clash against Holland is far from a foregone conclusion. Meanwhile the US have defended superbly and have probably exerted more energy than any team so far in France 98. They will have surely learnt from their experience of playing against Gemany and Yugoslavia, that they need to be more patient at times in their build-up play and far more clinical in front of goal if they are to succeed at this level.

(0-1) Komljenovic (4). Burns nudged Mijatovic to give away a free-kick some 25 yards out on the left and Mihajlovic struck a viciously swerving left-footed shot that Brad Friedel could only beat away into the path of the defender, who stooped to squeeze home a header just inside the near post from an acute angle to the right of the six-yard box.

 
 
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