Wasteful England

Despite the SQUANDERING of several chances, England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson said he was happy with the three points his team gained from their opening Group `B' match against Paraguay in Frankfurt.

Group B

England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson said he was happy with the full three points after England had won their opening Group `B' match against Paraguay 1-0 in Frankfurt. The only goal of the game was scored in the fourth minute by Paraguayan captain Carlos Gamarra whose attempted headed clearance after a David Beckham freekick flew past goalkeeper Justo Villar.

Shortly after going behind, Paraguay suffered a further setback as Villar had to be substituted in the eighth minute after rushing out and clearing the ball, injuring himself in the process. Aido Bobadilla took his place.

Watched by Prince William, who was sitting next to the president of the World Cup organising committee Franz Beckenbauer, England then created several other opportunities, but Owen and Liverpool striker Peter Crouch were guilty of wasting them with poor shooting.

In the second half Paraguay got into the game much better and striker Nelson Valdez put the England defenders under a lot of pressure, without coming close to finding the net though. They had their best chance midway through the second half when goalkeeper Paul Robinson failed to clear a cross from the left. His poor clearance fell to Carlos Paredes but under pressure from Robinson he blasted the ball over the net.

Chelsea's Frank Lampard could have doubled the score for his side in the 72nd minute. But Lampard's long-range effort was tipped over for a corner by Bobadilla. Paraguay went forward in search of an equaliser, but the England defence managed to withstand the pressure well.

Ten-man World Cup debutants Trinidad and Tobago pulled off an astonishing 0-0 draw against Sweden in their opening Group `B' match in Dortmund, creating this championship's first sensation. The match seemed to turn against the Caribbeans 40 seconds into the second half when Avery John became the first player to be sent off at the 2006 World Cup after a two-footed tackle on Swedish midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson. But reserve goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, so unlucky for West Ham in their English FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool in May, became Trinidad's hero with four world-class saves from Wilhelmsson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (twice), and Marcus Allback. Hislop was only playing because Kelvin Jack, who plays for Scottish club Dundee, banged his head on his way to the dressing rooms after the warm-up.

The 30-year-old John, who plays for US side New England Revolution, was sent off for a second bookable offence after picking up a first yellow card in the first half when he clattered into Wilhelmsson with another wild challenge. Brave Trinidad refused to buckle under persistent Swedish pressure and their Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker, in his first World Cup since leading the Netherlands in Italy in 1990, pumped both fists in the air on the final whistle.

Sweden can only regret their missed chances. They opened with pace and soon had the Caribbean defenders chasing shadows. Former Manchester United favourite Dwight Yorke twice came back to help out his desperate defenders in the first 10 minutes before veteran Swedish striker Henrik Larsson shot just over. Larsson also flashed a header just wide when Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg put across a teasing cross and just failed to connect an Ibrahimovic cross.

In between, Carlos Edwards forced Sweden 'keeper Rami Shaban to a full-length save with a snap shot from 20 metres and then put a header just wide. Shaban, who had a spell with Arsenal, was in for first-choice Andreas Isaksson who was missing through concussion. Trinidad could be proud of having held a side that qualified for their fourth major championship.

Sweden went out to a golden goal from Senegal in the second round in 2002 after topping their group that included England, Argentina and Nigeria.

GROUP C

Arjen Robben's 17th minute strike gave the Netherlands a 1-0 victory over World Cup rookies Serbia and Montenegro in a Group C match in Leipzig. Some 37,000 spectators saw the Chelsea striker, who was a thorn in the side of Serbia and Montenegro throughout the game, score after he was sent through by Robin van Persie. His speed got the better of the Serbian defenders and he ran through before coolly pushing the ball past Dragoslav Jevric.

Three minutes later Robben nearly doubled the score with a well-taken shot from the edge of the area, but this time Jevric managed to pull off a terrific save.

The Serbians were not intimidated by the power of the Dutch and went forward in search of an equaliser, without creating any real chances though. It was only when coach Ilija Petkovic introduced Ognjen Koroman for Nenad Djordjevic that things began to happen and the substitute came close with a powerful shot that went just wide shortly before the break.

In the second half the World Cup rookies had more of the play, but still seemed to lack the urgency needed to score against a strong Dutch defence.

GROUP D

Portuguese winger Figo admitted his side's performance in their opening win over debutants Angola in Group D left plenty of room for improvement. Figo was the architect of the fourth minute goal, beating Jamba for pace, and Pauleta was on hand to convert his cross and put the favourites in front with his 47th goal for his country. But the breakthrough could have come even sooner. After just 12 seconds Pauleta saw a shot go narrowly wide in a move that came directly from the kick-off. Cristiano Ronaldo was another to threaten to overwhelm Angola early on, hitting the bar with a header from a Figo corner as Angola faced the kind of beating they had suffered at the hands of Portugal in their two previous meetings.

The two teams have met twice since Angolan independence in 1975, with the latter losing 6-0 and 5-1 against their former colonial power.

However, the underdogs weathered the storm in their first World Cup Finals appearance and had chances of their own through Akwas who could have levelled with a spectacular bicycle kick from a Mateus cross on 25 minutes.

A brace of goals by Chivas Guadalajara striker Omar Bravo and a third by Antonio Zinha Naelson gave the Central Americans a solid 3-1 win over Iran in their Group D opener. Yahya Golmohammadi hit Iran's goal in the first half of a match, which saw both sides playing entertaining football over long stretches until Iran faded badly towards the close and allowed themselves to be demolished.

Both sides scored in the first half from set pieces. Mexico saw Pavel Pardo fire in a fine free kick, which was flicked on by Guillermo Franco for Bravo to tap home unmarked. Iran equalised seven minutes later off a Mehdi Mahdavikia corner from the right.

Javad Nekounam got his head to it, while Mexican 'keeper Oswaldo Sanchez could only parry into a knot of players, and it was defender Yahya Golmohammadi who got his boot to the rebound and sent the ball crashing into the top of the net.

Iran's collapse began following a terrible defensive mix-up that saw goalkeeper Ebrahim Mirzapour mis-kick and Rahman Rezaei lose the ball to Zinha, who coolly slipped the ball to Bravo for his second goal in the 76th minute.

Three minutes later Brazilian-born Zinha finished it off by heading home from 10 yards out off Mario Mendez's cross from the right.

GROUP A

German manager Juergen Klinsmann praised his team after the hosts' 4-2 opening victory against Costa Rica in a Group `A' game. German striker Miroslav Klose was the hero for his side with a brace (17, 61). Philipp Lahm (6) and Torsten Frings (87) also scored with spectacular long-range efforts. Paulo Wanchope netted twice (12, 73) for the Central Americans.

"We were of course a bit nervous and this showed during the match," said Klinsmann. "But I am very pleased at the way the team managed to come back after conceding goals and they showed true character in doing that.

They went forward and in doing that there will be a situation where we do not have enough players in the back. That happened, but we need to play going forward."

Klinsmann dismissed reports of a rift between him and captain Michael Ballack, who had said he was ready to play after having recovered from a calf injury.

"Every player wants to play. I have no problems with him saying that he wants to play. However, it is our responsibility as coaches to decide and we left him out of the team to be fit for the next game."

Costa Rican coach Alexandre Guimaraes said that his side had not been outplayed. "We scored two goals against Germany. That is not bad. We should not have conceded four goals, but we certainly did not play poorly," he said.

Urged on by a capacity crowd of 65,000, Germany had the best possible start when the Costa Rican defence failed to clear the ball in the sixth minute and it fell to defender Lahm.

The Bayern Munich player unleashed a powerful shot that ricocheted from inside the upright and into the back of the net.

The lead lasted just six minutes as Ronald Gomez sent a defence-splitting pass to Wanchope.

The German players' appeal for offside fell on the deaf ears of Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo and the former Premiership player ran through to push the ball past Jens Lehmann.

The hosts, who dominated play for most of the opening, went ahead again in the 17th minute after stand-in captain Bernd Schneider beat his marker and played the ball back into the path of Bastian Schweinsteiger.

His cross found an unmarked Klose and the Werder Bremen player, who was celebrating his 28th birthday, had the simplest of tasks to tap the ball into the empty net.

After the restart, German dominance continued and Klose scored his second in the 61st minute.

Costa Rican goalkeeper Jose Porras did well to parry Klose's header from a Lahm cross, but only managed to push the ball into the striker's path and he reached the ball before any Costa Rican defender and gave Porras no chance.

Wanchope scored his second in the 73rd when Walter Centeno fed him in the area and the striker beat Lehmann from close range from a position that looked offside.

Klose's Werder Bremen teammate Frings scored Germany's fourth with a spectacular effort from 30 metres three minutes from the end.

Goals in the 24th and 80th minutes by Carlos Tenorio and Augustin Delgado gave Ecuador a surprise 2-0 win over Poland in their Group `A' World Cup opener. It left the Poles with a daunting task, having to face Germany next in a do-or-die encounter. "It's a match we'll have to put behind us," said midfielder Jacek Krzynowek.

For Ecuador, a win in their next game against Costa Rica could see them advance.

Ecuador proved over long stretches that they are far more than just a side difficult to beat in their high-altitude Quito home, combining well and defending strongly. Tenorio struck in the 24th minute against the flow of play.

The 27-year-old striker from the Qatari side Al-Sadd headed home after Delgado headed on a long throw-in from the right by Ulises de la Cruz. The Poles attacked well early in the second half through Miroslav Szymkowiak and Celtic striker Maciej Zurawski. But the Ecuador defence was proved impenetrable in front of keeper Cristian Mora, defiantly showing the national colours daubed on the sides of his face.

In the 80th minute, substitute striker Ivan Jaime Kaviedes cleverly split the Polish defence to find the unmarked Delgado, who tapped home.

DPA