1994 World Cup - USA

1994 World Cup - USA

Hosts: USA
Final: Brazil 0-0 Italy (5-4 on Penalties)
Top Scorer: Hristo Stoichkov (Bul) and Oleg Salenko (Rus) – 6.
Best Player: Romario
Teams/Matches: 24/52
Facts and Figures:

* For the first time in World Cup tournaments, 3 points were given for a win in the group phase, to encourage more attacking play.

* Greece, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia qualified for their first appearance at the World Cup finals, though the Greeks failed to score and failed to gain even a point from their three group games. England and France didn’t qualify.

* Yellow cards accumulated in the group stage were disregarded after its completion.

* Referees were allowed to wear colours other than black to avoid a clash with the two competing teams.

* Players had their names above the numbers on their shirts.

* The USA v Switzerland match in the Pontiac Silverdome was the first to be played indoors in World Cup history - although it was still on grass.

* Chile were banned from the tournament in outrageous circumstances, as their national goalie, Roberto Rojas, faked an injury using a razor blade he’d hidden in his glove during the game against Brazil in Rio de Janeiro during qualifications.

* Diego Maradona tested positive for the banned stimulant ephedrine but the Argentinean FA withdrew him from the tournament before FIFA could ban him and, amazingly, he remained in the USA as a commentator.

* Colombian defender Andrés Escobar scored an own goal against USA which contributed to his team’s elimination from the competition. A few days after he and his team-mates returned to Colombia, Escobar was shot dead by gangsters amid speculation that his error had cost drug barons millions in gambling losses.

* Russia's Oleg Salenko was joint top scorer with six goals (five of them scored in one match against Cameroon). In the same game, 42-year-old Roger Milla broke his own record, set four years previously, to become the oldest man to score in the World Cup finals. He also established a record as the oldest player.

The Final

There was a lot of excitement before the first tournament held in the USA. The organisers and local fans didn’t disappoint, providing some great World Cup moments, and the biggest number of spectators to ever watch the games. The hosts did well, and were stopped only in the last 16 by Brazil.

The selecao stormed through the rounds, with some great attacking talents in their side like Romario and Bebeto, leaving young Ronaldo on the bench. Brazil beat the USA 1-0 in the round of 16, the Netherlands 3-2 in the last 8 and Sweden 1-0 in the semis.

Italy had a tough first round, losing to Ireland and drawing with Mexico, going through to the second round only on goal difference from a crazy group in which all 4 teams finished with 4 points. From that moment on Roberto Baggio’s class began to tell and catapulted the Italians to the final, beating Nigeria, Spain and Bulgaria along the way, with Baggio scoring 5 of Italy’s 6 goals in these games.

The final between the two most decorated sides promised a lot, but was a huge anti climax, after an enthralling tournament. Both Romário and Baggio played with injuries and their talents were consequently dulled, with both missing good opportunities. Brazil attacked more, Italy defended stoutly and penalties were required first time to decide a World Cup final. Roberto Baggio, after team mates Franco Baresi and Daniele Mássaro both missed, blazed his crucial shot over the bar, handing Brazil the crown for the fourth time in their history.

More History Articles