SPORT

The long wait for the first penalty



LEIPZIG: After five days of play at the 2006 World Cup, no penalty kicks had been awarded a stark change from previous tournaments.

Swiss referee Massimo Busacca ended that streak in the 15th match on Wednesday, when he awarded Spain a dubious penalty for a foul committed by Vladyslav Vashchuk that looked like it took place outside the box. Spain's David Villa converted in the 48th minute for a 3-0 lead.

In 2002, South Africa's Quinton Fortune converted a penalty in injury time to give Bafana Bafana a tie against Paraguay in the sixth match of the tournament. In the opening match in 1998, Scotland's John Collins converted a penalty against Brazil.

The first penalty-kick goal in the 1994 came in the ninth game, when Rai scored for Brazil. On the second day of Italia '90, a tournament which was known for low-scoring and penalty kicks, Marius Lacatus of Romania scored on a penalty. Igor Belanov of the Soviet Union converted a penalty on the third day of play in 1986.

It took nine games for the first spot-kick goal in 1982, and only four matches in 1978. However, the 2006 tournament will not go down as the one with the longest drought before the first penalty-kick goal. In 1974, the first 20 matches of group play went by without a goal from the penalty spot. On the last day of group play, four games kicked off at the same time and the Netherlands' Johan Neeskens twice converted penalties in a 4-1 rout of Bulgaria.

Croatian invasion

German authorities, on Wednesday, slapped a euro140 fine on the Croatian fan, who ran past security onto the field during Tuesday night's game between Croatia and Brazil.

The 20-year-old Croat who ran onto the pitch at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, knelt in front of striker Dado Prso and hugged his leg was fined for disturbing the peace and causing bodily injury, said Michael Grunwald, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors.

Selective statistics

England hasn't played as bad as the critics suggest, says coach Sven-Goran Eriksson it's all in the statistics. Even if they've been selectively read.

``Shots on goal, we are the best, together with Brazil. Thirteen shots, five on target. Brazil, six on target. I don't think it was that bad, that game we played on Saturday (against Paraguay).'' AP