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Football World Cup 1994

The 1994 Football World Cup was held in the USA, making it the first World Cup held in the North American continent.

It was won by Brazil who beat Italy 3-2 in penalties, after the game and the extra time ended 0-0.

The opening match saw the defending champions Germany beat Bolivia by the slightest margin, 1-0.

The World Cup early on saw very few upsets, while the Italians were the only favorites who were in serious trouble in the first round. They lost their first game to Ireland, 1-0, in New York. In their second game against Norway, their goalkeeper, Gianluca Pagliuca was sent off for a handball in the first half. They were forced to substitute their ace striker, Roberto Baggio, for the sent off goalkeeper, and spent the rest of the game with ten men. Early in the second half, their sweeper, Franco Baresi severely injured his knee, and was carried off. With nothing going good for Italy, the tall midfielder, Dino Baggio headed the ball in with less than 15 minutes left, and preserved their hopes of advancing to the next round.

Another team that was the center of attention in the first round was the host team, the USA. They drew their first game against a tough Switzerland team, and gave the Americans something to cheer for. Their next game was a game to remember. They miraculously beat the higher rated Colombians, 2-1, with a help of a crucial own goal by Andres Escobar, clinching their first appearance in the 2nd round since the 1950 World Cup due to their victory. Escobar's own goal eventually proved to be tragic when he was murdered 10 days after returning to Colombia.

In the second round, Brazil and the USA met on the 4th of July. With the whole country behind them, the USA team survived the first 70 minutes without a Brazilian goal, when the undefeated Brazilians struck with a counter attack which was finished off by Bebeto.

In the quarter final, Bulgaria surprised the world. Prior to this World Cup, Bulgaria had not won a World Cup game. They won their first game in the first round, and defeated Mexico in the best of 16 to play the defending champions, Germany, in the best of 8. The experienced Germans were expected to easily win this match. This belief became even stronger, when Lothar Matthäus' penalty kick brought the Germans ahead in the 50th minute. Bulgaria was not successful at getting many goal scoring opportunities, but a chance came, with 15 minutes left. A free kick, 20 yards out was awarded to Bulgaria and Hristo Stoichkov, their best player, struck it superbly into the lower corner, evening the game. Five minutes after the free kick, Bulgaria's midfielder Yordan Lechkov slipped through the stunned German defense and headed in the winning goal.

A tragic figure of this tournment was Roberto Baggio. He was goalless in the preliminary round, and he didn't come close to scoring in the best of 16 match against Nigeria until the last minute of the game. With Italy 0-1 down, Baggio slapped in a soft shot into the corner, with only a minute left in the game. They went on to win that game in extra time, and the best of 8 was equally thrilling. Roberto Baggio slapped in the winner with 5 minutes left in a tied game against Spain.

Baggio pulled his hamstring in the semi finals, and was said to be unavailable for the finals but, to everyone's surprise, appeared.

He was the fifth kicker of the penalty shoot out in the finals, and missed, to see the Brazilians capture their 4th World Cup.

Football World Cup

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