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   June 12, 2002 | 1355 IST


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Argentina make shock exit

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Rex Gowar

Argentina followed champions France out of the World Cup when they drew 1-1 with Sweden in their group F decider on Wednesday.

Pre-tournament favourites, Argentina, who had lost 1-0 to England in their previous game, failed to get past the first round for the first time since 1962.

Argentina dominated possession but Anders Svensson curled a fine free-kick inside the top right corner of Pablo Cavallero's goal one minute before the interval to put Sweden ahead.

Anders Svensson scores for SwedenIn the dying minutes, Argentina, champions in 1978 and 1986, won a penalty. Daniel Ortega's shot was saved but substitute Hernan Crespo scored from the follow-up.

It was too little too late.

Sweden finished top of the group and go on to play group A runners-up Senegal while England, who drew 0-0 with Nigeria, face Denmark.

Argentina, who dropped captain Juan Sebastian Veron and made three other changes, dominated territorially and enjoyed 65 per cent of possession, but their finishing was poor despite carving out a number of chances.

Veron, Kily Gonzalez and Hernan Crespo were brought on in the last half hour for Matias Almeyda, Juan Pablo Sorin and the ineffectual Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina went all out to try and save the game and their tournament.

Argentina had reached the second round of every finals they played in since 1962.


Sweden, who had also won the sides' only previous meeting in 1934, extended their unbeaten run in competitive matches to 13 matches, while Argentina lost their second consecutive game after their 1-0 group F loss to England five days ago.

Right on the half-time whistle, Argentina suffered an extraordinary blow when substitute Claudio Caniggia was shown a red card for dissent while still watching from the bench.

Their best of the first half and the only one on target from both sides in a largely sterile first 45 minutes was a header by Sorin saved on his line by Magnus Hedman.

Argentina's poor finishing of elaborate moves continued ihn the second and three players in a row failed to turn in Veron's free-kick

As Argentina pushed forward in numbers, Sweden threatened on the break and were almost gifted a second goal when Mauricio Pochettino's clearance from substitute Andreas Andersson rebouned of Cavallero.

Henrik Larsson could also have added to Sweden's lead with a solo break but was booked apparently for diving when he was brought down behind by Gonzalez.

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