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Italy played shorthanded. Cameroon decided to just play.

The Italians, in a must-win situation, did precisely that at the World Cup on Thursday. And they did it with grit and guile and with a backup goalkeeper. Oh yeah, the world's best player also was sitting on the bench, put there by coach Arrigo Sacchi in a strange strategic move that worked.The Cameroon team, meanwhile, dropped talk of boycotting today's game against Brazil. The players haven't been paid for months and they want their money. But they opted to show up at Stanford Stadium anyway.

Italy beat Norway 1-0 on a goal by Dino Baggio in the 69th minute. The Italians played the final 78 minutes with 10 men after goalie Gianluca Pagliuca was ejected for a hand save outside the penalty area.

"I realized I was out of the penalty area, but I had no choice," said Pagliuca, who made the Italian squad despite a bad automobile accident in May 1993. "It was important to avoid Norway scoring. I could not think if it was better to avoid the goal or ejection. I thought of stopping the ball."

Oyvind Leonhardsen was coming in alone just outside the penalty area in one of the few offensive forays by Norway. Even when the Norwegians were up a man, they rarely attacked.

"I am incredibly disappointed," said Norwegian goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt. "This was a unique chance. We should have at least had a draw. It was almost embarrassing to lose a game like this. So we just have to calm down and look at what we did."

What No. 2 goalie Luca Marchegiani did was prove he can handle the most dire circumstances.

"I entered the field in the worst situation, on a free kick from the penalty area edge," Marchegiani said. "It was an enormous, sudden emotion, because I was watching the game as a spectator and I was not ready psychologically to become a protagonist in a few seconds time."

Sacchi opted to pull Roberto Baggio, the 1993 player of the year, when Pagliuca was ejected. That shocked his star player, who has been bothered by a sore Achilles tendon.

"I could not believe it when I was called out," Roberto Baggio said. "I thought they had given the wrong numbers. I had never been substituted in such circumstances.

"I could not jump for joy for being substituted, but I'm happy for the team victory, which gives us a lot of morale."

The first scoreless game of the tournament came at Foxboro Stadium on Thursday night, when South Korea and Bolivia tied. The Bolivians had another player receive a red card - Luis Cristaldo was ejected. Straiker Marco Etcheverry missed the game as he began a two-match suspension for getting a red card in the opener against Germany.

Neither South Korea nor Bolivia ever has won a World Cup game.

Italy now has three points in Group E, the most difficult division. A win over Mexico on Tuesday would assure the "Azzurri" of a trip the second round.

Norway also has three points and plays Ireland in its next game. The Irish and Mexicans played today at Washington, D.C.

The other games today had Sweden against Russia at the Pontiac Silverdome and, of course, Brazil-Cameroon.

The Cameroonians had threatened to strike if they didn't receive their money. But they met with the federation and then decided to play, realizing that FIFA would place heavy sanctions on them if they didn't show up.

"I want to make it very clear to you all, we are having a match (Friday)," captain Stephen Tataw said. "Please understand, everybody has their problems. We have our problems, just like any other team has its own problem.

"We are trying to solve our problem in our own way, OK? Right now, I think we're having a match and we're trying to concentrate to play a good game."

In other World Cup news:

-The U.S. team, following its 2-1 upset of Colombia, enjoyed unusual status Thursday as celebrities.

"It took 50 years for the NFL to get where it is," goalkeeper Tony Meola said. "People talk about how the NHL took 70 years to get to where it is now. When I picked up the papers today and saw soccer ahead of the NBA finals, I was really surprised."

-Romania's Ian Vladoiu was suspended for three games for a blatant foul against Switzerland in Wednesday's game.

The disciplinary committee of FIFA imposed the stiff penalty after Vladoiu ran into Swiss midfielder Christophe Ohrel and immediately was given a red card by referee Noja Jouini of Tunisia.

In addition to Vladiou's suspension, which begins with Sunday's game against the United States, the Romanian soccer federation was fined $5,500.



U.S. cashes in

No matter who wins the Cup, the big winner is the U.S. tourism industry. Projections of soccer-dollars:

City millions of dollars

Los Angeles $623

New York/New Jersey $452

San Francisco $338

Dallas $266

Boston $255

Washington, D.C $244

Chicago $231

Orlando $209

Detroit $180

Source: World Cup Organizing Co.