The question being asked at the Coliseum Saturday afternoon was an odd one: Which was the real goat? Was it Bruno Conti, Omar Arellano or that four-footed apparition on the sideline?
Conti, of A.S. Roma, earned his horns for slamming his penalty kick into the knees of Rosario Central goalkeeper Alejandro Lanari, the ball rebounding clear and thereby costing the Italian team a spot in today's championship game of the Los Angeles Gold Cup soccer tournament. Instead, the Argentine team advanced.
Arellano went one better. His penalty kick for Guadalajara sailed wide of the net altogether, and, after Vasco da Gama's Donato had fired his shot home, it was the Brazilians, not the Mexicans, who advanced to this afternoon's final.
Both semifinal games, played in front of a crowd of 18,774, were decided on penalty kicks after each had ended in a 1-1 tie.
In the opener, Edgardo Bauza gave Argentine champion Rosario Central the lead with a goal in the 33rd minute, but Conti, playing remarkably well on both offense and defense, tied the score with a powerful shot eight minutes into the second half.
In the penalty kick phase, nine players had successfully made their shots and one from each team had failed when Conti committed his faux pas, sending the Italians into today's 11:30 a.m. third-place match instead of the 1:30 p.m. championship game.
Saturday's second game was a less artistic affair, but Guadalajara should have wrapped it up early. The Mexican champion squandered at least two scoring opportunities in the first half alone and held only a 1-0 halftime lead courtesy of an excellent headed goal by Mexican World Cup team defender Raul Servin in the 34th minute.
Urged on by a partisan crowd, Guadalajara clung desperately to its advantage, but its lead was a precarious one and, with only 71 seconds to play, it evaporated when a shot by Fernando found the back of the net from close range after a period of intense pressure from Vasco da Gama.
Again, it went to penalty kicks, and again six players had made theirs and two had failed when the luckless Arellano sliced his effort wide to the right. Donato did not make the same mistake and an all-South American championship match was assured.
Oh yes, about that four-footed apparition on the sideline. Guadalajara's team mascot is the billy goat and the Mexican team brought one along, spray-painted red, white and blue, the team's colors.
Despite appearances, it--not Conti or Arellano--was the real thing.