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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Argentina, Nigeria Win Big, Germany Draws

DALLAS, Texas -- Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta scored three times but it was also a great day for Diego Maradona and a historic one for Nigeria. World Cup-holder Germany did not win on Tuesday. But its 1-1 tie with Spain means it is virtually certain to be in the next round. Maradona, the mercurial Argentine star who battled drug addiction and other controversies, scored a memorable goal in his team's 4-0 victory over hapless Greece on Tuesday as Argentina, the 1990 runner-up, dropped a hint that it could be returning to style rather than steel. Nigeria 3, Bulgaria 0. In Dallas, Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokachi and Emmanuel Amunike were Nigeria's first World Cup scorers but there could have been even more as the African team repeatedly sliced through the Bulgarian defense. After Cameroon became the first African team to reach the quarterfinals four years ago, much was expected of the Nigerians, who won the African Nations Cup in April. They did not disappoint. Yekini, who plays for Vitoria Setubal in Portugal, scored the first in the 21st minute and set up the second for Daniel Amokachi, of Belgium's Bruges, in the 43rd. After the break, Emmanuel Amunike, who earlier hit the post, scored the third with a diving header. The powerful and fast Nigerian strikers proved too strong for the Bulgarian defenders who could not have complained if they had conceded six. The defense, in the early stages, allowed Bulgaria too much room, however, and Emil Kostadinov should have scored twice. Hristo Stoichkov, the famed Barcelona striker, thought he had scored with a bending free kick just before halftime. He failed to notice, however, that Costa Rican referee Rodrigo Badilla had decided the free kick was indirect and should have been touched by someone else before the shot. Germany 1, Spain 1. In Chicago, Germany spent more than half an hour trailing Spain. Spain's Goikoetxea admitted his 14th-minute goal was fortunate. He sent over a cross to his colleagues from the right side of the penalty area and it floated over goalkeeper Bodo Illgner into the net. J--rgen Klinsmann's equalizer was a little more straightforward, a downward header from Thomas H?ssler's free kick. If Klinsmann had not stroked a late shot the wrong side of the post, Germany would have won and clinched a second-round place without any doubt. "The bad news was that I didn't score the second goal,"' Klinsmann said. "There are days when you just try everything. Spain played an excellent game. They made it very, very hard for us in the first half. They just stayed back and waited for our counterattacks." "I do believe we are in the second round for sure," the German striker said. "We just have to beat Korea." Argentina 4, Greece 0. At Foxboro Stadium outside Boston, Maradona produced the goal of the day. With the Greek goal in no real danger, he curled a 19-meter left-foot shot between the Greek goalie and the post for Argentina's third goal. Batistuta scored the other three, including an injury-time penalty, but none were as good as Maradona's 60th-minute strike. Batistuta, who plays in Italy for Fiorentina, netted in the 2nd, 45th and 91st minutes of a one-sided game. Greece came into the game as the only European team to qualify without losing a game. It is likely to go home early without winning one. "I dedicate this goal to my daughters and to the entire Argentine people," Maradona said after the comprehensive triumph. "I felt great, divine." "We played a great game, a great game. Greece gave us some opportunities all right," Maradona said. "But that's not what counts. What counts is being able to take advantage of those opportunities. And Argentina did know how to do that." It was significant that the team that scrambled its way to the 1990 final on the back of dull, unimaginative play and a succession of penalty shootouts should go straight to the top of the 1994 scoring list with four goals. Argentina was severely criticized for its dour, defensive tactics in 1990. Although the Greeks provided little resistance in Tuesday's game, the signs are that it now knows how to find the back of the net.