Soccer

Norway falls to Yugoslavia at Euro 2000

Savo Milosevic backheeled Yugoslavia back into contention for a Euro 2000 quarter-final spot Sunday with a clever goal to beat Norway 1-0 and throw open Group C wide open before the final round of matches.

Milosevic of Spain's Zaragoza scored his third goal of the tournament standing with his back to goal and deflecting a low freekick from Ljubinko Drulovic into the corner of the net with Norwegian goalie Thomas Myhre standing no chance.

Yugoslav substitute Mateja Kezman was sent off a minute from coming on for a late tackle on Erik Mykland in the 88th minute.

But even with a man down, Yugoslavia easily survived a Norwegian challenge which sorely lacked inspiration and creativity.

After the second round of matches, Yugoslavia tops of the group with four points, one more than Spain and Norway. Newcomer Slovenia is left with one point and only an outside chance to advance.

Spain beat Slovenia 2-1 earlier Saturday.

Norway which had stunned Spain 1-0 to open its tournament in the best possible way was itself left stunned from Milosevic's early goal.

It normally thrives in a high-paced physical game, but in the humid hot conditions Sunday, Norway long looked lame, allowing the individual skills of the Yugoslav stars to take charge. Yugoslavia, frustrated so long in its 3-3 draw with Slovenia, could not believe its luck. Even veteran playmaker Dragan Stojkovic, 35, who plays for Grampus Eight in Japan, outran many Norwegians at times.

In the 26th minute, Predrag Mijatovic showed his class, taking a pass with his back to the goal, turning early and unleashing a beautiful left-foot shot from some 20 metres which took a stunning save from Myhre.

In an increasingly open game, the Yugoslav defence started losing its grip on Tore Andre Flo and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Chelsea's Flo worked himself free and hit a curler from 20 metres but Ivica Kralj was equal to the task.

Immediately after halftime Yugoslavia went looking for an insurance goal. Vladimir Jugovic of Inter Milan came close with a thunderous shot which was well saved and Mijatovic almost added a second in the 50th minute. At this stage, it was Myhre who kept Norway in touch.

Gradually however, the game degenerated into an ill-tempered affair with crunching tackles and clashes of the head. Yellow cards came flying, with six in total.

Norway finally started relying on its superior physical conditioning to launch a final onslaught. Substitute John Carew came closest in the 90th minute but his tap past Kralj went just wide.

By Dusan Stojanovic

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