Tuesday, June 30, 2015

30 June 2002 - Enough World Cups To Fill A Cabinet

On 30 June 2002, Brazil won their record fifth World Cup trophy, beating Germany 2-0 before a crowd of 69,029 at the International Stadium in Yokohama, Japan.

Brazil reached the Final with a perfect record, having won all three of their group stage matches, then advancing through the knockout rounds with victories over Belgium (2-0), England (2-1), and Turkey (1-0). Forward Ronaldo scored a total of six goals in those earlier rounds, making him the tournament's top scorer. Meanwhile, the only smudge on Germany's campaign was a 1-1 draw with Ireland in the group stage before reaching the Final with wins over Paraguay (1-0), the United States (1-0), and co-hosts South Korea (1-0).

Ronaldo continued his scoring touch in the Final, opening with a 67th-minute goal after German keeper and captain Oliver Kahn spilled the ball at Ronaldo's feet. He beat Kahn again in the 79th minute with a shot from the top of the box to extend Brazil's lead t0 2-0, where it would remain until the final whistle.

Ronaldo won the tournament's Golden Boot award and finished second to Kahn in voting for the Golden Ball award as the tournament's most valuable player.

Monday, June 29, 2015

29 June 1986 - Germans Are The Bridesmaids Again

On 29 June 1986, Argentina won their second World Cup, beating West Germany 3-2 with a dramatic 83rd-minute goal from midfielder Jorge Burruchaga (pictured). It was the second consecutive loss in the Final for the West Germans, who would go on to win the tournament in 1990.

Both teams advanced to the Final in exciting fashion, with West Germany winning a penalty kick shootout to get past hosts Mexico in the quarterfinals. One day later, Argentina defeated England with two goals from Diego Maradona, including the infamous "Hand of God."

Playing before a crowd of 114,600 at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Argentina took a surprising 2-0 lead with goals from sweeper José Luis Brown (23') and forward Jorge Valdano (55'). Germany stormed back, however, thanks to two corner kicks that resulted in goals from forwards Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (74') and Rudi Völler (80'). But as the match neared extra time, Burruchaga sprinted down the right side of the pitch and beat center back Hans-Peter Briegel to slot the ball past keeper Harald Schumacher for the win.

It was the second World Cup trophy for the Argentines, who had won their first in 1978.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

28 June 1994 - This Is What Happens When You Play A 42-Year Old In The World Cup

On 28 June 1994, Russia rolled over Cameroon 6-1 in their last group stage match of that year's World Cup, with forward Oleg Salenko (pictured) providing five of those goals to set a World Cup scoring record.

Russia started the day out of contention for the knockout rounds, having lost to both Brazil and Sweden. Cameroon had drawn with Sweden and still had a chance to overtake them for the group's second place, but needed both a win over Russia and a Sweden loss to Brazil in the group's final match. The Russians quickly made the Indomitable Lions' challenge more difficult when Salenko scored his first goal of the day in the 15th minute.

On the attack soon after, Cameroon nearly equalized when François Omam-Bitik's curling shot hit the bar, but were undone when the Russians quickly restarted after a 41st-minute free-kick, leading to a three-on-one situation and another Salenko goal. Three minutes later, the referee awarded the Russians a dubious penalty after an apparent dive and Salenko converted it to secure his first-half hat-trick.

The lone bright spot for Cameroon was the second-half introduction of forward Roger Milla, who came on in the 45th minute and scored one minute later. At 42 years old, he remains the World Cup's oldest scorer.

Salenko scored twice more in the second half (72', 75'), and had a hand in another goal, scored by Dmitri Radchenko in the 81st minute to complete the 6-1 rout. Despite Salenko's brilliant performance, it was the last of his eight appearances for the Russian national team as injuries ended his career shortly afterward.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

27 June 2006 - France Over Spain, Just Like On The Map

On 27 June 2006, France came back from a one-goal deficit to beat favored Spain 3-1 in the World Cup Round of 16. It was a performance that sent the French on their way to the Final, where they eventually lost to Italy on penalty kicks.

Les Bleus had struggled in the group stage, managing one win (over Togo, 2-0) and two draws (0-0 with Switzerland and 1-1 with South Korea), but finished in their group's second and last advancement spot. Spain, on the contrary, roared through the first round with wins over the Ukraine (4-0), Tunisia (3-1), and Saudi Arabia (0-1) to finish at the top of Group H.

In the Round of 16, it appeared that La Furia Roja were on their way to another win after French defender Lillian Thuram conceded a penalty by knocking Spanish center back Pablo Ibáñez over in the box in the 28th minute. Striker David Villa sent the spot kick to the bottom left corner of the net, just past the outstretched hands of keeper Fabian Barthez, and Spain were up 1-0.

But in the 41st minute, a well-timed Patrick Vieira pass found Franck Ribéry slipping past the Spanish back line. He rounded keeper Iker Casillas and prodded the ball home to draw France level. Vieira then provided the go-ahead goal in the 83rd minute, as Spain were unable to handle a Zinedine Zidane free kick. It bounced to Vieira in the box and he headed it into the net. Spain pushed forward in search of an equalizer, but were exposed on the counter-attack as Zidane added an insurance goal in the 92nd minute.

Friday, June 26, 2015

26 June 1998 - Jamaica's Jammin' On Japan

On 26 June 1998, Jamaica earned their first and only World Cup points, beating fellow Cup debutants Japan 1-2 in the group stage. Unfortunately, it was not enough to advance and both Jamaica and Japan were eliminated from the tournament.

Jamaica, who qualified for the 1998 tournament by finishing third in the final CONCACAF table, behind the United States and Mexico, opened their World Cup campaign with a 3-1 loss to Croatia, followed by a crushing 5-0 defeat at the hands of Argentina. Japan, meanwhile, had also lost their first two matches, but by much closer margins of 1-0 in both games.

Playing before a crowd of 39,100 at Lyon's Stade Gerland, Jamaica too a first-half lead against Japan with a 39th-minute goal from midfielder Theodore Whitmore (pictured), as the ball dropped to his feet in the middle of the box and he powered a right-footed shot past the Japanese keeper. Whitmore doubled the lead for the Reggae Boyz in the second half, making a charging run down the right side of the box, then squeezing a left-footed shot into the net from a tight angle.

Japanese forward Masashi Nakayama pulled one back in the 74th minute, but Japan were unable to find another. The defeat sent Japan to the bottom of the group, but Jamaica finished in third place and were also eliminated.

Japan returned to the World Cup in 2002 as co-hosts, advancing to the second round, and also qualified for the 2006 and 2010 tournaments. The win over Japan remains Jamaica's last appearance in a World Cup, as they have yet to qualify for another.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

25 June 1978 - Argentina Treats The Dutch To A Loss

On 25 June 1978, hosts Argentina won their first World Cup, defeating the Netherlands 1-3 (aet), making them the fifth country to win the Cup as hosts.

The tournament took place during the reign of dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, who had taken control of the nation through a military coup two years earlier. After the coup, several countries, including the Netherlands, publicly debated whether to withdraw from the tournament. But all of the qualified teams eventually chose to participate.

Both Argentina and the Netherlands finished second in their respective first-round groups, but advanced to the Final by finishing at the top of their second-round groups. Argentina did so controversially, as they entered their last second-round match against Peru needing to win by more than four goals in order to pass group leaders Brazil. They won 6-0.

Playing the Final before a crowd of 71,483 at Buenos Aires' Estadio Monumental, Argentina took a 37th-minute lead with a goal from Valencia striker Mario Kempes (pictured). The goal tied Kempes with Holland's Rob Rensenbrink as the tournament's top scorer. The Dutch, playing in their second consecutive Final, equalized with a header from midfielder Dick Nanninga in the 82nd minute. Rensenbrink came close to winning the match in stoppage time, but his shot hit the post.

In extra time, Kempes struck again in the 104th minute. It was his sixth goal of the tournament and earned him the golden boot. Winger Daniel Bertoni added an insurance goal in the 115th minute to complete the day's scoring.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

24 June 1950 - Brazil Throws A World Cup Party

On 24 June 1950, hosts Brazil opened the first World Cup in twelve years by pounding Mexico 4-0. It was the beginning of a tournament run that ended with Brazil in second place, their best finish to that point.

As the world recovered from the aftermath of World War II, FIFA had difficulty convincing many countries to participate. By the tournament's start, only thirteen teams showed up, including Italy, the defending champions from the last tournament, played in 1938. Brazil had finished in third place that year and had submitted a bid to host the 1942 World Cup before FIFA canceled it due to the war.

In that opening match, played before a crowd of 81,000 at the Maracanã in Rio, Brazilian striker Ademir Marques de Menezes opened and closed the scoring with goals in the 30th and 79th minutes. In between, midfielder Jair de Rosa Pinto added one in the 65th minute and striker Baltazar scored in the 71st. They completely dominated the Mexicans, who had not participated in a World Cup since the first one in 1934 where they lost all three of their matches.

Brazil proceeded to draw with Switzerland 2-2 and beat Yugoslavia 2-0 to finish at the top of their group. They advanced to the final group, where they defeated Sweden (7-1) and Spain (6-1) before losing to Uruguay (2-1) in the match that decided the title. Along the way, Ademir scored a total of eight goals to win the tournament's golden boot.