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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Penalty Shoot-Out Advances Bulgaria

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey -- Maybe everybody is just starting to get tired and grumpy, after 19 days of the World Cup in an ongoing heat wave, crossing four time zones. Maybe Mexico and Bulgaria were too tired to make a concerted effort at offense through the last hour of so-called action at Giants Stadium on Tuesday. Maybe they were surly before they ever started their dull march toward a 1-1 tie. Certainly, they still were irritable after Bulgaria survived the Cup's final second-round game on penalties, 3-1. "I thought the referee was biased by the presence of 70,000 Mexican fans," said Bulgarian goalkeeper Borislav Mihaylov, whose two solid saves in the shootout opened the door to victory. He said he thought the expulsion of Emil Kremenliev, in the 50th minute "was unjustified." The Mexicans were not too happy about how the afternoon went, either. They, too, lost a man on a second caution (forward Luis Garcia, 58th minute). And with the teams 10-a-side for the rest of the match, fatigue, or the reality of being sent home by a loss, ground the pace almost to a halt. "Bulgaria is a very good team," said Mexico keeper Jorge Campos, an apparent hero when he stopped the first Bulgarian penalty shot but beaten on the next three. "They stand on the field very well, especially in the defensive area." Yes, stand. The standing around, by both sides, but especially the Bulgarians, in the second half and through the two 15-minute extra-time periods, did not do soccer's U.S. advertising campaign much good. There were long minutes of piddling around at midfield, waiting as much for the clock to run out as for the other team to fall asleep. Bulgarian coach Dimitar Penev admitted that "it actually was our intention after regulation time ended to draw the game into penalty kicks, and I think it worked out well." At least, it could be argued that the shootout was dramatic, shooters alternating with shots 12 yards from the keeper through five "innings." First Mexico's Garcia Aspe knocked a left-footer just over the crossbar, then Krassimir Balakov sent a hard left-footer to the left corner, but Campos knifed across and got a left hand on it for the save: 0-0 after one inning. Mexico's Bernal put his right-footer right at Mihaylov, who lunged to his right for the easy save, then Bulgaria's Bontcho Guentchev, who entered in the 104th minute, sent a right-footed shot high in the right side for a 1-0 lead after two innings. After Mexico's Jorge Rodriguez shot right into Mihaylov's midsection, Bulgaria's Daniel Borimirov scored into the left corner (2-0), and even when Claudio Suarez punched a low shot into the right corner to keep Mexico alive at 2-1, Iordan Letchkov clinched it by finding the right corner. Meanwhile, in Bogota, Colombia, police arrested three people who confronted Andres Escobar just before he was murdered for accidentally scoring an own goal in the World Cup, but said they were not involved in the killing. Authorities said Tuesday they were renewing an investigation into the possibility that drug traffickers may have planned Escobar's death. Earlier, police said the murder was not linked to drug cartels or death threats against the Colombian soccer team. The two men and a woman arrested Monday after Escobar was shot Saturday in the parking lot of a Medellin bar. But after questioning the three, who had been haranguing Escobar, police said they were not the killers. The three remained in custody because police seized 25 kilograms of cocaine, two revolvers and a submachine gun when they were arrested.