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PLACIDO Domingo, performing Opera in the open air at nearby Grant Park, was not the only Spaniard on song in Chicago yesterday. Over at Soldier Field, Jose-Luis Caminero scored twice as Spain overcame a spirited, skilful but defensively inept Bolivian side to ensure their qualification from Group C as runners-up to Germany.
Spain, who now meet Switzerland in Washington on Saturday, must negotiate the next round without their two-goal hero. Caminero's second caution in three games incurred in time added on means an automatic one-match ban.
Twenty-four hours earlier, the Windy City had tricked Bulgaria into their first win in six visits to the finals. Unfortunately for their Bolivian coach, Xavier Azkargorta, it could not work the oracle for Bolivia. They bow out with one point - their first ever - but Erwin Sanchez at least managed a parting shot: his country's first goal in six matches during finals spanning 64 years.
If Ireland's section is the 'Group of Death,' this was the 'Group of Dearth.' Only seven goals had come in the four games prior to yesterday's glut - well below the tournament average - with Bolivia barren as ever.
They had been prolific in one sense, having had Marco Etcheverry and Luis Cristaldo sent off. With Julio Baldivieso also suspended, Bolivia's resources looked stretched. Yet they began brightly, and Andoni Zubizarreta was a spectator in the third minute as William Ramallo's 25-yard drive cannoned back into play off the angle of post and bar.
That seemed typical of Bolivia's luck, as did the decision which led to Spain's taking the lead 15 minutes later. Felipe jumped hopefully for a cross by Albert Ferrer with two vertically challenged defenders, Juan Pena and Carlos Borja. All three landed in a heap to find the Costa Rican referee pointing to the spot.
For two minutes, Bolivian dissent again threatened to boil over. The barrage of whistles had still not abated when Josep Guardiola stroked the penalty kick down the centre of the goal, beating Carlos Trucco as he plunged to his right. Senor Badilla was strangely lenient in other respects, declining to brandish a yellow card after several rugged Spain challenges on Sanchez.
Much of Bolivia's approach work was delightful. The elasticity of Sanchez, in particular, often made the Spanish appear ponderous. However, having worked their way into promising positions, they were often guilty of wildly optimistic shooting.
Spain made more chances from less possession, and Caminero's effort came out off Bolivia's left- hand post before he doubled the advantage after 65 minutes. Sergi cut inside from the left flank and cleverly beat two defenders before picking out the Atletico Madrid player, who beat Trucco with an angled shot.
Bolivia finally scored a minute later when Sanchez's 20-yard shot clipped Voro and looped over Zubizarreta. But in the 72nd minute, the ubiquitous Caminero was allowed to take Ferrer's long pass on his chest, turn and fire past Trucco, whose mobility appeared to have been impaired after earlier bravery at the seat of an attacker.
BOLIVIA (1-4-2-3): Trucco (Bolivar); J Pena (Santa Fe), Borja, Rimba, Sandy (all Bolivar), Soruco (Blooming); Ramos (Destroyers), Soria (Bolivar); E Sanchez (Boavista), Ramallo (Oriente Petrolero), Melgar (The Strongest). Substitutes: Moreno (Blooming) for Ramos, h-t; Castillo (Platense) for Soria, 63.
SPAIN (4-4-2): Zubizarreta (Barcelona); Ferrer (Barcelona), Voro (Deportivo La Coruna), Abelardo (Sporting Gijon), Sergi; Goicoechea, Guardiola (all Barcelona), Caminero (Atletico Madrid), Felipe (Tenerife); Salinas (Deportivo La Coruna), Guerrero (Athletic Bilbao). Substitutes: Hierro (Real Madrid) for Felipe, h-t; Bakero (Barcelona) for Guardiola, 69.
Referee: R Badilla Sequeira (Costa Rica).Reuse content