FOXBORO, Mass. - Gabriel Batistuta scored a hat trick and Diego Maradona got a goal on a superb, 22-yard left-footed kick as Argentina romped past Greece 4-0 in World Cup soccer today.
Batistuta's three goals included the tone-setter, a goal scored through individual effort in the match's second minute. He also connected in the 45th minute, then Maradona - whose career quickly nosedived after he led Argentina to second place in the 1990 tournament - put home his eighth World Cup goal.
The 33-year-old Maradona's path was blocked by two defenders, so he dribbled a few feet to his left and sent a curling shot that sneaked inside the goalpost.
Maradona then ran to the sidelines, his mouth opened wide in exultation, before being mobbed by teammates. Playing in his fourth World Cup, Maradona had made his statement early: Don't ever ignore him.
"I dedicate this goal to my daughters and to the entire Argentine people," he said.
A hand ball in the 90th minute set up Batistuta's third goal, on a penalty kick.
BRAZIL BEATS RUSSIA
STANFORD, Calif. - With a pounding, pulsating offense - accompanied by the beat of drums and their fans' songs and dances - the Brazilians outclassed Russia 2-0 in yesterday's play.
Brazil showed why all the world is on a first-name basis with its players. Romario scored the first goal, in the 27th minute, and Rai scored the second, on a penalty shot, in the 53rd, and there were three other near scores and dozens of other ingenious plays.
"There was a total supremacy by Brazil, and we even lost several chances to score, three or four," Brazil Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said. "We expected to feel the pressure in our first official game in 30 days in front of the world, but it went very good. And I'll tell you, the trend is for the team to improve."
The crowd, with many decked out in green, blue and yellow regalia symbolizing Brazil's national colors, totaled 81,061.
DUTCH REBOUND FOR WIN
WASHINGTON - Saudi Arabia was so thrilled to qualify for the World Cup, it supposedly gave each player a $100,000 bonus and promised another $100,000 and a Mercedes-Benz if the team made the final in Pasadena.
For 86 of 90 entertaining minutes, the prospect loomed of King Fahd shipping over cars as the Saudis, in their first World Cup game, verged on a stunning upset before succumbing to their inexperience and powerhouse the Netherlands 2-1.
After a Dutch foul outside their penalty area, a free kick by Saudi defender Abdullah Al Dosari found the head of a diving Fuad Amin, his team's hottest player. Goalie Ed De Goej had no chance against the header.
However, Holland surged at the 50-minute mark, and midfielder Wim Jonk took a pass from 35 yards out, dribbled three times and launched a rocket that dived down and right, into the net.
With four minutes left and a still impressive tie beckoning for the Saudis, goalie Al Deayea, 21, went out too far for a Dutch cross, then whiffed with his right fist. Dreadlocked Dutch forward Gaston Taument swept in from behind and headed the ball into an empty net.
Compiled from Associated Press, Newsday and Chicago Tribune.