Wednesday, June 5, 2013

5 June 1938 - Getting The Tough Job Out Of The Way Early

On 5 June 1938, holders Italy opened the World Cup with an extra-time win over Norway, the closest match they had in their successful bid to defend their title.

They had gone to extra time in the 1934 final before beating Czechoslovakia 2-1 in Rome with a 95th-minute goal from Angelo Schiavo. The Norwegians, meanwhile, were playing in their first World Cup match, having chosen not to participate in the 1930 or 1934 tournaments.

The two teams met in the first round at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, where the crowd of 19,000 watched the defending champions go up 1-0 after only two minutes with a goal from Pietro Ferraris (it wasn't the day's first goal, though, as France's Émile Veinante scored in the first minute of their game against Belgium, which started at the same time).

Italy kept their slim lead until the 83rd minute, when Arne Brustad scored the equalizer for Norway and sent the match into extra time. There, Silvio Piola struck in the 94th minute to put the Italians back in front and set the final margin at 2-1.

The win sent Italy into the quarterfinals, where they beat France 3-1. The ensuing 2-1 win over Brazil in the semifinals had the same margin as the Norway game, but Italy were up 2-0 until Brazil got a consolation goal three minutes before the final whistle to make the game seem closer than it really was. Then, in the final, Italy beat Hungary 4-2 to finish as the first two-time champions in World Cup history.

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