Iraq in Olympic football quarterfinal

Iraq beat Costa Rica 2-0 to reach the Olympic Games soccer quarterfinals while Italy and Portugal recovered from shock results.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
  • Total Shares


Iraq beat Costa Rica 2-0 to reach the Olympic Games soccer quarterfinals while Italy and Portugal recovered from shock results to win their second games and stay in contention. Unable to play any of its qualifying games on home turf because of the war and subsequent violent conflict in its own country, the Iraqi team scored its second victory of the Olympic competition yesterday coming after a 4-2 triumph over star-studded Portugal. Iraq now has a maximum six points from two games and does not have to win its third game against Morocco in Patras on Wednesday. Both goals came in the last 23 minutes, Hawar Mulla Mohammed putting Iraq ahead at the Karaiskaki Stadium in Athens and Mahdi Karim heading the second five minutes later. Each goal sparked wild scenes among the Iraqi fans some of whom ran onto the field. "This success is very important for our people and our country because we are facing a difficult situation," Mulla Mohammed said. "We had no facilities and fields to train for a long period but we managed to qualify for the next stage of the Olympic tournament. "I am very happy for this achievement. It was an accomplishment of team work under the contribution of our coach." Portugal recovers Portugal recovered from its shock defeat by beating Morocco 2-1 to stay in contention for a place in the last eight. Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Costa scored for Portugal which must avoid defeat against Costa Rica on Wednesday. Alberto Gilardino scored twice as Italy beat Japan 3-2 in a thriller in Volos to revive its chances of winning the gold medal for the first time in 68 years. Japan was knocked out after two high-scoring and thrilling losses. "This game was very different from the first match against Ghana (a 2-2 tie)," said Gilardino, who took his tally in the tournament to three having scored 23 times for Parma in Serie A last season. "We played much better in the first half but, in the second, our performance got worse." Against Ghana, Italy fell two goals down in the first half and hit back to tie the game. "I am very glad for the three goals I scored in the Olympic tournament and I am looking forward to going back to the Olympic village," said Gilardino. Japan eliminated The result eliminated the Japanese who had also lost 4-3 to Paraguay in another entertaining game and Masakuni Yamamoto's team, who had some 2,000 blue shirted followers in the stadium, made many friends with their enterprising soccer. Daniele De Rossi scored the first with an acrobatic overhead kick while Yuki Abe curled in a 25-meter free kick for Japan and Daiku Takamatsu scored an injury time second. The second goal sparked a violent melee in the Italian goal as the Japanese tried to grab the ball away from goalkeeper Ivan Pelizzoli. Ghana came from behind to beat Paraguay 2-1 in Thessaloniki with Stephen Appiah, who plays in Italy for Juventus, scoring the winner six minutes from the end. "We were losing 1-0 and we realised we were going to lose the game, so we had to do something," Appiah said. "Fortunately we made it. The point is, we never gave up." All the goals came in the last 14 minutes with Carlos Gamarra putting Paraguay ahead but William Tiero levelling five minutes later. Appiah's winner means that Italy and Ghana are tied with four points at the top of the group and Paraguay has three. On Wednesday, Italy meets Paraguay in Athens and Ghana faces the eliminated Japanese in Volos. The soccer tournament takes a break today with some teams preparing for the quarterfinals and others already sure they are returning home. Argentina in last eight Argentina made it to the last eight with two shutouts, 6-0 against Serbia-Montenegro and 2-0 against Tunisia, with Boca Juniors striker Carlos Tevez scoring three times. The Serbs then lost 5-1 to Australia and are sure of going out while Argentina and the Socceroos meet in Athens tomorrow to see who finishes top of the group. Argentina has six points and Australia four. Host Greece, unable to follow up its senior team's Euro 2004 triumph, has to beat Mexico in Volos to stay alive in Group A after tying 2-2 with South Korea and losing 2-0 to Mali. Korea and Mali have four points each and meet at Thessaloniki. The women's competition also is on hold until tomorrow when World Cup holder Germany is in action again after a six-day break. The Germans began with an 8-0 beating of China last Wednesday with Birgit Prinz scoring four times and now face Mexico in Athens to guarantee a place in the quarterfinal. The United States is already there having beaten Greece and Brazil and completes its group games against Australia in Thessaloniki. The other games are Greece-Brazil at Patras and Sweden-Nigeria at Volos. (AP)