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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

23 June 1998 - The Great Scottish Collapse

On 23 June 1998, Scotland exited the World Cup in disastrous fashion, losing 0-3 to Morocco in their last group stage match. In doing so, the Scots set the record for most tournament appearances without advancing out of the first round.

The two teams started the day level on one point each, both having lost to Brazil and drawn with Norway, but Morocco quickly demonstrated their intentions to separate themselves from the Scottish side. In the 22nd minute, a long pass from beyond the midfield stripe bounced in the left side of the Scots' box in front of onrushing Moroccan striker Salaheddine Bassir (pictured). Bassir took a single left-footed touch to blast the ball past keeper Jim Leighton, giving Morocco the lead.

They scored their second goal in similar fashion. In the 46th minute, an even longer pass flew over the Scottish back line into the path of striker Abdeljalil Hadda, who outraced defender David Weir to the box and fired a shot at Leighton, who had come off his line. Leighton palmed the ball up over his head, but it dropped into the goal to put Morocco up 2-0. Shortly afterward, Scotland were reduced to 10 men after midfielder Craig Burley received a straight red card for a rash tackle on Bassir. Bassir then completed the rout with an 85th-minute chip after beating defender Tom Boyd with a brilliant first touch.

The defeat stuck Scotland at the bottom of the group for their eighth first-round elimination in eight tournament appearances. Despite the result, Morocco were also eliminated, as Norway beat Brazil 2-1 to claim the group's second place.

Monday, June 22, 2015

22 June 2002 - Where No Asian Team Has Gone Before

On 22 June 2002, co-hosts South Korea became the first Asian team to advance to the World Cup semifinals by beating Spain on penalties, 0-0 (3-5). Their win, however, came with a bit of controversy.

Spain dominated the first half, with 20-year old Betis midfielder Joaquín Sánchez providing a spark on the right side. But the South Korean defense proved stout and kept the match scoreless in the first half. Spain thought they cracked the Korean's back line mid-way through the second half when a Spanish free kick bounced into the net off the shoulder of Korean center back Kim Tae Young, but the referee disallowed the goal for an apparent foul.

In the second minute of extra time, Spain again thought they had the match-winner when Joaquín ran along the byline and chipped the ball into forward Fernando Morientes, who headed it into the goal. The referee disallowed that goal after the linesman signaled - incorrectly - that the ball had gone out of bounds before the pass.

In the ensuing shootout, Korea went first and were up 4-3 when Joaquín stepped up to the spot. But his shot was tame and easily saved by Korean keeper Lee Woon Jae. The final shot by Korean captain Hong Myung Bo then clinched the victory. South Korea advanced to the semifinals, where they lost to Germany 1-0.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

21 June 1970 - Brazil Literally Wins The World Cup

On 21 June 1970, Brazil became the first team to win three World Cup trophies, beating Italy 4-1 in that year's Final. In that match, Pelé became the first (and to date only) player to win three trophies and Brazil manager Mário Zagallo became the first person to win trophies as a player and coach.

Playing before a crowd of 107,412 at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Pelé opened the scoring with a powerful 18th-minute header. Italy found a first-half equalizer in the 37th minute thanks to confusion between Brazilian keeper Félix and defender Hércules Brito. As the keeper rushed forward to stop the Italian attack, Brito charged in and knocked the ball away, allowing Italian forward Roberto Boninsegna to slot it into an open net.

Level at 1-1 at the break, the second half belonged to Brazil. Gérson put them up 2-1 with a low driving shot from outside the box in the 66th minute. Five minutes later, a long pass found Pelé in the box and he headed the ball down into the path of the charging Jairzinho, who bundled it into the net. The scoring ended in the 86th minute as a precise Brazilian build-up involving eight different players resulted in a Pelé pass to captain Carlos Alberto, who blasted the ball home from about 10 yards out. It was a brilliant example of Brazil's now famous style of play.

With their third World Cup title, Brazil were allowed to keep the trophy. Unfortunately, it was stolen in 1983 and has never been recovered.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

20 June 1954 - Goals! Goals! Goals!

On 20 June 1954, the World Cup experienced an offensive explosion, with 25 goals in the day's four matches. At 6.25 goals per game, it remains the highest-averaging daily output in a World Cup.

It was the last scheduled match day in Groups 2 and 4, with the former providing most of the goals. Group 2's Hungary and West Germany played in the day's first match, with Hungary rolling to victory by a margin of 8-3. Hungarian forward Sándor Kocsis was the star of the day, scoring four. In the group's other match, Turkey crushed South Korea by an even greater margin, winning 7-0 with a hat-trick from forward Burhan Sargin.

In Group 4, England beat Switzerland 2-0, while Italy defeated Belgium 4-1.

The day's biggest winners, Hungary and West Germany, eventually met in the Final, where the West Germans won 3-2 to claim their first World Cup title.

Friday, June 19, 2015

19 June 1938 - Italy Doesn't Disappoint Il Duce

On 19 June 1938, Italy became the first nation to win consecutive World Cup titles by beating Hungary 4-2 in that year's Final. It was a relief for many people who believed the Italian players had received death threats from Benito Mussolini should they lose.

Italy, who had won the previous tournament by beating Czechoslovakia 2-1 in Rome, fielded a very different side in the 1938 Final. Of the 11 players who beat the Czechs, forward Giuseppe Meazza was the only returning starter, but he was joined again by manager Vittorio Pozzo. The Azzurri advanced to the title by virtue of their strong defense, conceding no more than one goal in each of their previous matches, with wins over Norway (2-1, aet), hosts France (3-1), and Brazil (2-1). The win over Brazil was particularly impressive, as the Italians shut down the tournament's leading scorer, forward Leônidas da Silva, who scored in every other match for Brazil.

In the Final, played before a crowd of 60,000 at the Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris, the Azzurri again held their opponents' leading scorer - forward Gyula Zsengellér - without a goal. Zsengellér had found the net six times in Hungary's wins over the Dutch East Indies (6-0), Switzerland (2-0), and Sweden (5-1), but was continually frustrated in the Final. Italy took a 3-1 lead by the break thanks to goals from forwards Gino Colaussi (6', 35') and Silvio Piola (16'). Piola scored another in the 82nd minute to seal the 4-2 win. Afterward, Hungarian keeper Antal Szabo said "I may have let in four goals, but at least I saved their lives."

As it turned out, Mussolini had sent telegrams to the players saying "Vincere o morire!" But while the literal translation is "win or die," it was in reality a common Italian phrase of encouragement that simply meant "do your best."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

18 June 1994 - The Yanks Get The Point

On 18 June 1994, the United States earned their first World Cup point since 1950 by drawing 1-1 with Switzerland in the opening match of the tournament. Played at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, Michigan, it was also the first World Cup match in history to be played indoors.

The US had earned their last World Cup points in 1950 with a shocking 1-0 upset of England. They were subsequently eliminated from that tournament with a loss to Chile, then failed to qualify for the competition until 1990, when they lost all three of their matches.

In 1994, the hosting US side appeared to be headed for another poor run after going down 0-1 in the first half with a 39th-minute free kick from veteran Swiss striker Georges Bregy. But right before the end of the half, the referee awarded the US a free kick after a foul by Swiss midfielder Ciriaco Sforza. Forward Eric Wynalda stepped up and fired the 28-yard kick over the wall and into the top near-side corner of the net for the equalizer.

The teams played to a stalemate for the remainder of the match, which finished 1-1. The US went on the earn an additional three points by defeating Colombia 2-1, but lost their remaining matches to Romania (0-1 in the group stage) and Brazil (1-0 in the first knockout round).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

17 June 1962 - Brazil Takes Two

On 17 June 1962, World Cup holders Brazil successfully defended their title, beating Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the Final. After going down 0-1, the Brazilians scored three unanswered goals to become only the second country to win consecutive World Cups.

Played before a crowd of 68,679 at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile, the Final was a rematch of the two squads' previous group stage meeting, which ended as a scoreless draw. That match cost Brazil the services of Pelé, the hero of the previous tournament, due to injury. Although he was unable to play for the remainder of the Cup, Brazil won the group and reached the Final with knockout-round wins over England (3-1) and hosts Chile (4-2). The Czechs, meanwhile, finished second in the group and advanced by defeating Hungary (1-0) and Yugoslavia (3-1).

In the Final, just as they had in the 1958 Final, Brazil went down early, this time conceding a 15th-minute goal to Czech midfielder Josef Masopust. But Pelé's replacement Amarildo, who had scored both goals in Brazil's 2-1 final group stage win against Spain, brought his side level two minutes later. The teams ended the first half even at 1-1.

The champions took the lead in the second half with a 68th-minute header from midfielder Zito, then capitalized on a mistake by the Czech keeper Viliam Schrojf. In the 78th minute, Schrojf, who had played brilliantly throughout the tournament, allowed a high ball to slip through his hands and drop to the feet of Vavá. The forward tapped it into the net, becoming the first player in history to score in two World Cup Finals. It ended the scoring at 3-1 and gave Brazil the second of their five World Cup titles.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

16 June 1954 - A Sign Of Things To Come

On 16 June 1954, Brazil opened the World Cup with a 5-0 demolition of Mexico before a crowd of 13,000 at Geneva's Charmille Stadium. Four of the goals came in the first half.

The match paired the top two qualifying teams from the Americas, with both sides going undefeated to win their groups (Brazil over Paraguay, Chile, and Peru and Mexico over the United States and Haiti). While Mexico had never advanced beyond the first round, the Brazilians were looking to rebound after losing the previous Cup to Uruguay.

They did so in convincing fashion. Striker Oswaldo da Silva, better known as Baltazar, put the South Americans up 1-0 in the 23rd minute with a powerful shot from the top of the box. Central midfielder Didi then stretched the lead to 2-0 with a 30th-minute free-kick that beat the wall from 20 yards out. Pinga, Brazil's number 10, added a quick brace to close the half (34', 43'). The final goal was scored in the 69th minute by Julinho, who found the back of the net after a weaving run through the Mexican defense that would later come to be a Brazilian trademark.

Despite the impressive nature of the win, it was Brazil's only victory of the tournament. They drew 1-1 with Yugoslavia in their only other group stage match, then lost 4-2 to Hungary in the first knockout round. Four years later, however, Brazil would win their first World Cup trophy in Sweden.

Monday, June 15, 2015

15 June 1986 - Belgium Shreds The Iron Curtain

On 15 June 1986, the Soviet Union fell to Belgium 3-4 (a.e.t.), despite a hat-trick from Dynamo Kyiv striker Ihor Belanov, that year's Ballon d'Or winner.

The two teams met in the World Cup's first knockout round, the Round of 16. Belanov (pictured), who had scored only one goal in the tournament's group stage, put the Soviets ahead in the 27th minute with a powerful blast from the right edge of the box. They held their lead through the first half, but in the 56th minute, Belgian midfielder Enzo Scifo slipped behind the Soviet back line to receive a well-timed pass and prodded it past the keeper for the equalizer.

They traded goals again later in the half; an unmarked Belanov received a pass in the box and slotted it home in the 70th minute, then seven minutes later Belgian midfielder Jan Ceulemans again caught the Soviet defense napping to take a high arcing lob on his shoulder and knock it into the goal. The second half ended at 2-2 to send the match into extra time.

In the 102nd minute, center back Stéphane Demol gave Belgium their first lead with a powerful header, then striker Nico Claesen extended it eight minutes later. A 111th-minute Belanov penalty kick gave the Soviets a lifeline, but they were unable to find another.

The Belgians continued their run with a quarterfinal win over Spain on penalty kicks, 1-1 (5-4), before losing 2-0 to eventual champions Argentina in the semifinal, then to France, 4-2 (a.e.t.), in the third place match.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

14 June 1974 - West Germany Cooks With A Red Chile

On 14 June 1974, hosts West Germany opened that year's World Cup with a 1-0 win over Chile before a crowd of 83,168 at the Olympiastadion in West Berlin. In addition to kicking off West Germany's second World Cup-winning campaign, the match also delivered the Cup's first-ever red card.

Even before it began, the tournament took on a political aspect, as several Eastern European nations qualified at the expense of higher-profile Western European sides such as England, France, and Spain. West Germany, who had won the Cup in 1954 and had recently finished in second place (1966) and third place (1970), became the standard-bearers for the West. That role was emphasized by the first match, hosted by West Germany in the enclave of West Berlin, surrounded on all sides by fellow qualifiers East Germany.

The West Germans quickly established their intentions, placing the South Americans under constant pressure. In the 18th minute, defender Paul Breitner gave the hosts the lead, blasting a shot into the top left corner of the net from over thirty yards away. Only some excellent work from Chilean keeper Leopoldo Vallejos prevented the scoreline from getting worse for his side.

In the 67th minute, Chilean midfielder Carlos Caszely, frustrated by challenge moments earlier by West German defender Berti Vogts, retaliated with a violent lunge from behind that sent Vogts to the ground and earned Caszely a straight red - the first red card issued in the history of the World Cup (red and yellow cards were introduced for the first time in the 1970 tournament, but nobody earned a red that year).

The West Germans held on for the 1-0 win on the way to their second World Cup title.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

13 June 2006 - Togo Gets Taken Out

On 13 June 2006, South Korean World Cup hero Ahn Jung-Hwan, who scored the match winner against Italy in the 2002 tournament, again provided the winning goal in a World Cup match as the Koreans came from behind to beat Togo, 2-1. It was their first World Cup victory on foreign soil.

Playing before a crowd of 48,000 at the FIFA WM Stadion in Frankfurt, the Togolese took a first-half lead when forward Mohamed Kader broke through the Koreans' back line and sent a shot past the keeper and in off the far post in the 31st minute. Midfielder Junior Sènaya came close to extending the lead a few minutes later with a free kick, but Korean keeper Lee Woon-Jae got a hand to the ball and tipped it over the bar.

Eight minutes into the second half, Togo center back and captain Jean-Paul Abalo tripped Park Ji-Sung just outside the box, earning a second yellow card from referee Graham Poll. Midfielder Lee Chun-Soo took the 54th-minute free kick, blasting it over the wall and into the top left corner of the net for the equalizer.

Down to ten men, Togo continued to press, but were undone in the 72nd minute when Ahn ripped a shot into the goal from 20 yards out to seal the win for South Korea.

South Korean followed their performance with a 1-1 draw with France and a 2-0 loss to Switzerland that put them in third place and out of the tournament. Togo, meanwhile, failed to score another goal and finished at the bottom of the group without a single point.

Friday, June 12, 2015

12 June 2002 - Argentina Evicted

On 12 June 2002, one day after favorites France were eliminated from the 2002 World Cup, fellow title hopefuls Argentina were knocked out by Sweden. It was the first time since 1962 that Argentina failed to advance past the first round.

Argentina entered the match in Group F's third place on three points, one point behind England and Sweden, and needed a win to secure their place in the next round. They dominated possession, with 65% to Sweden's 35%, but squandered several chances to take the lead. In the first half, midfielder Juan Pablo Sorín received a cross right in front of the goal, but headed the ball over the bar. Later in the half, another cross found forward Claudo López on the left edge of the goal, but he put it into the side netting.

Sweden finally broke the deadlock when midfielder Anders Svensson curled a 59th-minute freekick over the wall and into the goal's top left corner, just past the outstretched hand of Argentina's keeper, Pable Cavallero. The Swedes had a chance to extend their lead late in the second half, but Andreas Andersson's shot hit the bar.

Argentina drew level in the 88th minute, as forward Ariel Ortega was tripped in the box. Swedish keeper Magnus Hedman blocked the ensuing penalty kick, but it rebounded to the feet of second-half substitute Hernán Crespo, who slammed it home for the equalizer. The Argentines were unable to find another, however, and the match ended 1-1 to send Argentina home.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

11 June 2002 - Adieu, Les Bleus

On 11 June 2002, defending World Cup champions France were eliminated from the 2002 tournament with a 2-0 loss to Denmark in their final group stage match before a crowd of 48,100 at Korea's Incheon Munhak Stadium. Les Bleus finished at the bottom of their group with a single point, having gone scoreless in all three matches.

France started the day still in contention for the group's second place, needing a win against Denmark and a Uruguay win over Senegal. The French attack, however, was impaired by the absence of prolific striker Thierry Henry, who had been sent off in the previous match after a dangerous sliding tackle. And despite the presence of other French stars on the pitch, including Zinedine Zidane, Marcel Desailly, Patrick Vieira, and David Trezeguet, Les Bleus struggled to create pressure on the Danish goal.

The Danes had no such problem, taking a 22nd-minute lead with a strike from PSV winger Dennis Rommedahl (pictured, top). Striker Jon Dahl Tomasson (pictured, bottom), who had scored the match-winner for Feyenoord in that year's UEFA Cup, added a second in the 67th minute to seal the win.

Denmark advanced only to be eliminated by England 0-3 in the first knockout round.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

10 June 1934 - Italy Bounces The Czechs

On 10 June 1934, hosts Italy won the first of their four World Cup trophies, beating Czechoslovakia 2-1 in extra time before a crowd of 45,000 at Rome's Stadio Nazionale PNF.

Unlike the first World Cup, the 1934 second edition did not include a group stage. Instead, the 16 qualified teams started directly with knockout rounds. Italy opened the tournament with an easy win over the United States (7-1), then overcame Spain (in a replay, 1-0), and Austria (1-0) to reach the Final. Czechoslovakia, meanwhile, advanced with victories over Romania (2-1), Switzerland (3-2), and Germany (3-1). Czech striker Oldřich Nejedlý scored in every match - and recorded a hat-trick against Germany - to enter the Final as the Cup's top scorer with goals.

In the Final, the Italians kept Nejedlý in check to keep the match scoreless at halftime, but the Czechs went ahead in the 76th minute with a goal from forward Antonín Puč. Their lead lasted only five minutes, as Italy's Raimundo Orsi equalized in the 81st minute. The two sides remained even at 1-1, taking the match into extra time. There, striker Angelo Schiavio scored his fourth goal of the tournament, a 95th-minute shot that proved to be the Cup winner.

Italy repeated as champions in 1938 and won again in 1982 and 2006.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

9 June 1938 - The Swiss Kick The Nazis Out Of France

On 9 June 1938, Switzerland defeated Germany 2-4 in a World Cup First Round replay before a crowd of 22,000 at the Parc des Princes in Paris. The match eliminated Germany from the tournament and remains their poorest showing in a World Cup.

The two sides had earlier played on 4 June, but the match ended as a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time. According to the rules then in place, a replay was required to produce a winner. Initially, it appeared that the Germans were on track to advance after taking a 2-0 lead with an 8th-minute goal from striker Willi Hahnemann and a 22nd-minute own-goal from Switzerland's Ernst Lörtscher (the first-ever World Cup own-goal). 

The Swiss, however, stormed back, with a pair of goals from strikers Eugen Walaschek (43') and Alfred Bickel (64'). Fellow striker André Abegglen, who had scored the Swiss' only goal in the earlier meeting, completed the comeback win with a late brace (75', 78'). For their reward, the Swiss advanced to face Hungary in the quarterfinals, losing 2-0.

Monday, June 8, 2015

8 June 1958 - The Journey Of Five World Cup Trophies Starts With A Single Win

On 8 June 1958, Brazil started their World Cup campaign with a 3-0 win over Austria before a crowd of 17,778 at the Rimnersvallen in Uddevalla, Sweden. It was the first step toward securing the first of their record five World Cup trophies.

The Austrians were optimistic, having advanced to the semifinals in 1954, but were overwhelmed from the start by the Brazilians' free-flowing attack. Forward José Altafini, better known as "Mazzola," scored the first goal with blast from distance in the 37th minute, then defender Nílton Santos, playing in an advanced position, blew past an Austrian defender in the 50th minute and chipped the ball over the diving keeper to put Brazil up 2-0. Mazzola rifled the final shot in the 85th minute to complete the win.

It was a powerful performance, especially considering that Brazil left Pelé, Garrincha, and Vavá on the bench. All were instrumental throughout the remainder of the tournament, which ended with Brazil winning the Final 2-5 over hosts Sweden.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

7 June 1970 - Trickeration, Mexican Style

On 7 June 1970, hosts Mexico defeated El Salvador 4-0 in the World Cup group stage, using a little trickery along the way.

Just before halftime, with the match tied at 0-0, referee Ali Kandil awarded a free kick to El Salvador in their own half of the pitch. To everyone's surprise, however, one of the Mexican players stepped up and took the kick, passing it forward to teammate Javier Valdivia, who then knocked it into the goal. El Salvador's players protested, but Kandil allowed the goal to stand.

When the match restarted in the second half, El Salvador registered their disapproval by first refusing the kick off, then kicking the ball directly into the stands. Once the second half was underway, Valdivia quickly scored a second goal and the rout was on. Javier Fragoso extended the Mexicans' lead to 3-0 in the 58th minute, then substitute Juan Basaguren added another in the 83rd minute, becoming the first substitute to score in a World Cup.

El Salvador finished at the bottom of Group 1 and went home. Mexico advanced to the quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by Italy.