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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Important victories of the Netherland, Mexico and Portugal

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The favorites got the victory. Portugal, Mexico and the Netherlands beat lower-ranked opposition as the third day of GErmany 2006 ended without the surprises that punctuated the start of the tournament.

Pauleta assured his status as Portugal's all-time leading scorer in a 1-0 defeat of Angola, making its debut in the showpiece. Omar Bravo scored twice as Iran slid to a 3-1 loss to Mexico, and Arjen Robben got the only goal as the Netherlands beat Serbia & Montenegro. Serbia's manager said Robben could be one of the stars of the tournament.

Earlier, Serbia & Montenegro, playing at the tournament for the first and last time after the countries voted to split last month, remains on zero points alongside Ivory Coast, which lost yesterday 2-1 to Argentina.

"We can definitely do better than this," said Serbia & Montenegro coach Ilija Petkovic. "We have a great team and we will do our best to finish second in the group."

Robben, 22, ran onto a chipped pass from Robin van Persie and sprinted clear of the defense before rolling the ball past oncoming goalkeeper Dragoslav Jevric for the only goal.

And in another match, mexican Bravo joined Germany's Miroslav Klose and Paulo Wanchope of Costa Rica on two goals at the tournament as Mexico won its opening match.

A two-time host that's never gone beyond the quarterfinals, Mexico took the lead in the 29th minute when Bravo prodded the ball into the goal from four yards. Yahya Golmohammadi made it 1-1 eight minutes later, lifting the ball into the roof of the net from six yards.

Bravo got his second goal 14 minutes from the end, slipping the ball past Mirzapour after exchanging passes with Zinha following a miskick by goalkeeper Ebrahim Mirzapour and a mistake by defender Rahman Rezaei. Zinha completed the scoring three minutes later with a header from six yards.

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