Facebook Twitter

NORWAY ADDS TO HERO LIST WITH HOT WIN OVER MEXICO

SHARE NORWAY ADDS TO HERO LIST WITH HOT WIN OVER MEXICO

First the Olympics. Now this.

1994 already has been a memorable year for Norway, which staged a near-perfect Olympics and won 26 medals, more than anyone. From Johan Olav Koss to Bjorn Dahlie, there were heroes galore.Add Kjetil Rekdal and Erik Thorstvedt to that list.

In sweltering RFK Stadium in Washington, in the kind of heat Norwegians almost never encounter, they didn't wilt. Indeed, they struck for the only goal in the 85th minute of their World Cup game against Mexico.

After Norway's Jan Age Fjortoft gained control of the ball near the penalty area, Rekdal took it off his foot, charged past Mexico's Claudio Suarez and shot the ball diagonally into the far corner of the net.

That sent a few thousand Norway fans into ecstacy - until Mexico came within inches of tying the first-round game. A header by Luis Alves hit the right goalpost and the rebound was cleared by the defense.

Norway goalie Thorstvedt made two brilliant saves within two minutes earlier in the second half in his nation's first World Cup game in 56 years.

"I'm proud and happy and very tired, too," said Norwegian coach Egil Olsen. "I know we could have lost two goals in the last minute. I know we were lucky."

Earlier Sunday, Belgium edged Morocco 1-0 at Orlando, Fla.

In a later game at Pasadena, Calif., Sweden played Cameroon, the surprise team of the 1990 World Cup.

Mexico seemed right at home in sizzling RFK Stadium, and the majority of the crowd of 52,395 was behind the Mexican team. But it was Norway's supporters who were cheering and dancing in the aisles at game's end, thanks to Rekdal, a second-half substitute.

"It was better to put someone in with fresh legs when the team was so tired," he said. "Some of the players couldn't stand on their feet after the game. Now they are walking."

At the Citrus Bowl, Belgium's Marc Degryse put in a header in the 11th minute, then the Belgians held on against the Moroccans and the elements.

"Yes, we were seriously preoccupied with the heat problem," Belgium coach Paul Van Himst said. "You have to understand that in Belgium, it rains a lot and temperatures like we have here today is not something that we're used to, and the Morrocans were able to deal with a lot better than we were."

But the Belgians were able to win.

"We lost but I feel that a tie would have been more fair," Moroccan coach Abdellah Blinda said. "We have two more games to look forward to. Life doesn't stop with Belgium."

In other World Cup news:

- Miguel Nadal of Spain and Marco Etcheverry of Bolivia will be sitting out the rest of the first round. Spain's captain and Bolivia's dangerous scorer were suspended Sunday for two games in a continuing crack-down on rough play.

FIFA's disciplinary committee decided on two-game minumum suspensions for any player ejected from a World Cup game; that's twice as long as the traditional penalties for red cards on fouls that do not leave a player severely injured or show a gross lack of sportsmanship.

"We want to crack down on violent action," said Joseph Blatter, general secretary of FIFA.

-Nearly 400 Irish fans were stranded without game tickets and, in some cases, without hotel rooms in a scam by a London travel agency.

Sportex, the agency that sold the tour packages to the Irish, ripped off about 300 fans who flew to Florida and 78 who were in Massachusetts. Paul Mills and Roy Price of Sportex disappeared shortly after checking the smaller group into a Saugus, Mass., hotel.

With the help of New York police, Saugus police tracked Mills to a hotel in New York City, where it was believed he was scalping tickets.

-An Achilles tendon inflammation is hampering Italy's Roberto Baggio, the 1993 player of the year. But the team said the injury will not force him out of the tournament.

"It's a problem which cannot be solved with a few days rest. He will have to live with it," said team doctor Andrea Ferreti, noting the hard field at Giants Stadium added to the discomfort. "He will train Monday and can play the next game Thursday."