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Baggio's Late Goal Gives Italy 2-2 Tie With Chile

By Piero Valsecchi
Associated Press
Thursday, June 11, 1998; 3:44 p.m. EDT




 Christian Vieri (No. 21) runs toward teammate Demetrio Albertini (No. 9) after scoring a goal that gave Italy an early lead Thursday against Chile in Bordeaux.
(Vincenzo Pinto/Reuters)
BORDEAUX, France — Roberto Baggio stood at the penalty spot and, for a moment, flashed back to Pasadena. His last World Cup penalty kick came in the Rose Bowl, and when he missed, Italy lost the title game to Brazil.

This time, he nailed it into the corner of the net with six minutes left, lifting Italy into a 2-2 tie with Chile in their Cup opener Thursday.

"Certainly I thought of four years ago,'' Baggio said, "but then I told myself I was going to put the ball into the net this time.

"Luckily, I did,'' he added with a smile.

Baggio saved the Italians many times in 1994, so he carries little blame or shame over the missed penalty kick in the finals shootout. And he rescued his team from a huge upset against the Chileans, who got two goals from Marcelo Salas.

"We took risks to win in the final minutes after being at risk to lose,'' Baggio said. "We expected the first World Cup match to be difficult.''

The veteran striker, recalled to the Italian lineup at age 31 after playing only one game for the national team in three years, calmly sent the ball past goalkeeper Nelson Tapia after Ronald Fuentes' right arm couldn't get out of the way of Baggio's pass.

"I didn't try to stop the ball with my hand,'' Fuentes said. "The ball came to me. I was very close. I didn't have a chance to react.

"I am very sad, because of the effort my teammates made. We deserved to win. We played as equals.'' Chile was leading 2-1 thanks to two stunning strikes by Marcelo Salas, after Christian Vieri had given Italy a 10th-minute lead off Baggio's sideways pass.

Italy took the lead on a counterattack. Vieri and Baggio had only two defenders between them and the net as Baggio took a long pass from Paolo Maldini. Baggio unselfishly slipped the ball sideways to the better-positioned Vieri, who slid it home from 15 yards.

Chile tied it as Fabian Estay's left-wing corner kick was headed powerfully by Ivan Zamorano and the ball touched the foot of teammate Pedro Reyes. It fell to Salas, who turned to fire it home with his left foot.

Four minutes into the second half, Salas struck again, climbing high to head in a crossing pass.

"He's a very dangerous forward, difficult to mark,'' Italy defender Allessandro Nesta said of Salas, who did not meet with the media after his big game.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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