Argentina Cruises Past Jamaica, 5-0
By Howard Fendrich
Sunday, June 21, 1998; 2 p.m. EDT
The victory lifted Argentina to the top of the Group H standings above Croatia on goal difference leaving the Reggae Boyz, making their World Cup debuts, last with no points and a 1-8 goals tally. Japan, another debutant, also has no points from two games and, like Jamaica, goes out even with a game to play because both Argentina and Croatia have six.
Ortega ran the ball past overworked goalkeeper Warren Barrett in the 32nd minute at the Parc des Princes after good approach work by Juan Veron and Diego Simeone had opened up the Jamaican defense.
The Jamaicans ended the first half with 10 men after Darryl Powell was expelled after his second yellow card and Ortega made them pay with a second in the 55th minute after exchanging passes with Claudio Lopez.
Batistuta then hit two more goals in the 73rd, 79th and 83rd minutes to go top of the World Cup scorers list with four.
Batistuta could have put Argentina two goals ahead inside the first 64 seconds as his team dominated from the very start.
The game was only 20 seconds old when the Jamaican defense gave him room to shoot for goal and was lucky that the Fiorentina star slightly mis-hit the effort and 'keeper Barrett was able to save.
But Argentina won a free kick almost immediately on the right, Batistuta rose to meet Veron's well-flighted kick and flashed a header wide of the post.
After 10 minutes of total domination by Argentina, Jamaica went close to taking the lead.
Fitzroy Simpson got clear of Argentina's defense down the left with only 'keeper Carlos Roa ahead of him but a defender got back to block his shot on goal.
But Barrett remained the busier goalkeeper, nervously holding a lob-shot from Ortega and then blocking a close range header from the same player.
In the 28th minute, Ortega went on a weaving run past four Jamaican defenders but fired his shot over the bar from 16 meters (yards).
Four minutes later the ever-dangerous Ortega put his team ahead after an wonderfully-constructed move from just inside Argentina's half.
Veron swapped passes with Simeone and then released Ortega, who had made a perfectly-timed run down behind the Jamaican defense. Barrett raced off his line but the Valencia forward chipped the ball past him into en empty net.
To make things worse for Jamaica, midfielder Powell was sent off in the second minute of first half injury time for clattering into Ortega near the side line, his second yellow card of the game.
Ortega's second came 10 minutes into the second half when he swapped passes with Claudio Lopez just outside the Jamaican area, darted through a gap in the defense and prodded the ball past Barrett.
Theodore Whitmore surprised the South Americans with a low, 25-meter shot that shaved the post but Argentina, who repeatedly looked like adding to its lead, made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute.
Ortega was this time the provider, sliding a pass wide to Batistuta with the outside of his right foot and the Fiorentina striker powered home a shot from just inside the area.
Six minutes later Batistuta netted his third goal of the championship, taking a pass from Matias Almeyda and running through a huge gap in the Jamaican defense to fire home via the fingertips of 'keeper Barrett.
Batistuta fired his third from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute after Christopher Dawes hauled down Ortega as the forward charged into the area.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press