Solskjaer strikes twice to sink Saudis

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The Independent Online
OLE Gunnar Solskjaer scored twice as Norway swamped Saudi Arabia 6-0 yesterday in a World Cup warm-up match in Molde that was marred by the sending-off of two Saudi players.

"I'm happy but the game was pretty much ruined by the red cards," Norway's coach, Egil Olsen, said after his side had extended their unbeaten run to 14 games in their last outing before the World Cup finals in France.

The Saudis, also World Cup finalists, who held England to a goalless draw at Wembley on Saturday, were all but beaten after the dismissal of the goalkeeper, Mohammed Al-Daye, and Mohammed Al-Khlaiwi in the first half, both for fouls on Solskjaer.

England's first opponents in the finals, Tunisia, lost 2-1 in Vienna against another finalist, Austria, who had been beaten in their previous two matches. Khaled Badra took advantage of a defensive muddle to score the Tunisian goal with a header after 23 minutes, but by that stage they were already 2-0 down.

The Netherlands, missing Dennis Bergkamp who was resting his hamstring strain, wasted a host of chances and were held to a goalless draw by Cameroon in another clash of World Cup finalists, in Arnhem.

Jurgen Klinsmann missed Germany's 0-0 draw in Finland last night after injuring his right leg in training. He has returned to Germany for treatment, but the problem is described as minor and he is expected to recover in time to captain his country in the World Cup finals.

The Croatian striker Igor Cvitanovic has been sent home from his country's World Cup training squad by the coach, Miroslav Blazevic, after refusing to run a few extra training laps.

Cvitanovic, 27, who plays for the Spanish side Real Sociedad, will miss France 98 if Blazevic does not have a change of heart. However, Blazevic, a strict disciplinarian, said: "Cvitanovic is definitely eliminated. Not even the President can save him now."

l England will definitely face competition from South Africa to host the 2006 World Cup, after the Republic's government yesterday agreed to back a bid to take the finals to Africa for the first time.