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Two Nations Breathe Relief After Mexico Victory

After 75 scrappy minutes, Group D favorites Mexico produced two goals in quick succession, taking advantage of some poor defending to sink unfancied Iran 3-1. Mexico's goals came thanks to the introduction of Zinha, the naturalized Brazilian midfielder who came off the bench to set-up the first and then score the second, a beautiful header which came after a lovely give-and-go down the right side with Mario Mendez. The Times points out that German officials may have been as relieved the Mexicans for the late heroics that led to their much-deserved win. Germany had been rattled by earlier reports that the pugnacious Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's leader, was planning to travel to Germany to watch his country play if it qualified for the last 16. That looks unlikely happen now; Iran should go home if Portugal, a 1-0 victor over Angola yesterday, wins the encounter between the two on Saturday. Jewish groups in the U.S. and abroad have asked Germany to bar Ahmadinejad from the tournament after calling for Israel to be erased from the world map, and claiming that the Holocaust never happened. Adding to the tensions yesterday was the game's location in Nuremberg, within viewpoint of the deserted rallying grounds where Hitler staged Nazi rallies in the 1920's and 30's.

Read the whole story at The New York Times »

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