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Young and old

Vieri, Baggio goals help Italy win 2-1, avoid Brazil

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Posted: Tuesday September 15, 1998 07:30 PM

  Christian Vieri fired his fourth goal of the World Cup and the first goal of the game for Italy David Cannon/Allsport

ST. DENIS, France (CNN/SI) -- Italy cruised into the second round of the World Cup on Tuesday when its youngest and eldest strikersfound the back of the net early, and the Italians survived late when Austria scored a stoppage time goal.

A 2-1 win at the Stade de France -- the site of the July 12 final -- gave the Italian team first place in Group B, allowing it to avoid a clash with Group A winner Brazil in the last 16.

Italy completed the first round with seven points from three games, with two wins and one draw.

The Austrians return home with two draws and one loss to show for their eforts.

Christian Vieri fired his fourth goal of the World Cup when he found the back of the net, and Roberto Baggio scored the game's second goal and his second of the tournament, to lift Italy to a hard-fought victory.

Vieri's vital strke came in the 49th minute.

Alessandro Del Piero, who had just been fouled, took a delicate free kick from the left of the penalty area, and the 23-year-old Vieri climbed high above the Austrian defense to head powerfully past goalkeeper Michael Konsel.

Del Piero, starting in his first World Cup match after recovering from a right thigh strain, was especially targeted by Austrian defenders, aware that the young forward is the main inspiration in Italy's play.

Fouls on Del Piero cost Peter Schoettl and Ivica Vastica yellow cards -- and the free kick that led to Italy's first goal.

In the frantic closing minutes, substitute Baggio made the score 2-0 before Austria pulled a goal back with a penalty in the dying seconds.

Austria had scored injury-time equalizers in the previous matches against Cameroon and Chile.

Baggio's goal came in the 90th minute. The 31-year-old striker had tallied another late goal, on a penalty, in Italy's 2-2 against Chile.

Filippo Inzaghi, another second-half substitute, broke through on the right as Austria surged forward in search of an equalizer, and crossed to Baggio who tapped into an open net.

Baggio, playing his third World Cup, entered the field as a substitute for Del Piero, who was fading after a brilliant start.

Andreas Herzog scored for Austria with a penalty in the 92nd minute after Hannes Reinmayr had been pulled down, but the goal was not enough to save Austria from first round elimination.

"I replaced Del Piero and Vieri in the second half because both looked extremely tired. It's good to have two great strikers on the substitutes' bench and have the chance to rotate them," said Italian coach Cesare Maldini. "I am happy to have avoided Brazil in the next round, but I want to enjoy our victory and not think too much about the next match."

His son Paolo, the team captain, agreed it was important to qualify as group winner and avoid a confrontation with Brazil, the defending champion.

"I believe that the Brazilians too are satisfied not to meet Itly too early," Paolo Maldini said.

Italy's qualification came at a heavy price.

Defender Alessandro Nesta injured knee ligaments in a fourth minute clash with Austrian midfielder Heimo Pfeifenberger and is considered unlikely to play again in the World Cup.

"It's very sad news. Alessandro [Nesta] will probably not play in the rest of the tournament. A final decision will be taken after the player undergoes a magnetic resonance scan in the next 24 hours."

Despite his team's elimination, Austria coach Herbert Prohaska said his players competed well throughout the first round.

"We've showed that we had a rightful place in this tournament," Prohaska said. "Italy showed that it has a very clever squad, and could wait for counter-attacks."

"We were lacking a bit of luck. But the Italian defense stood its ground well," Prohaska said.

Goalkeeper Michael Konsel said Austria played its best game in the World Cup against Italy.

"We would have qualified if we played like this in the first two games," Konsel said.

Vieri's goal puts him at the top of the World Cup goalscoring standings, equal with Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta, with four goals.

Defensive midfielder Gianluca Pessotto, a surprise starter as replacement for Demetrio Albertini, said he knew shortly before kick off that he was going to play.

"I had no time to get emotional about that," he explained.


Italy: Gianluca Pagliuca; Alessandro Nesta (Guiseppe Bergomi, 4th), Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Costacurta, Francesco Moriero, Dino Baggio, Luigi Di Biagio, Gianluca Pessotto, Christian Vieri (Filippo Inzaghi, 60th), Alessandro Del Piero (Roberto Baggio, 73rd).

Austria: Michael Konsel; Anton Pfeffer, Wolfgang Feiersinger, Peter Schoettel, Dietmar Kuehbauer (Peter Stoger, 74th), Roman Maehlich, Heimo Pfeifenberger (Andreas Herzog, 79th), Arnold Wetl, Ivica Vastic, Hannes Reinmayr, Anton Polster (Mario Haas, 62nd).

Referee: Paul Durkin, England. (pv/ae)  

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91st Minute: England puts 2nd round berth in doubt
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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