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WC Italy 1990 – An Overview

Roger Milla who at the age of 38 scored four times in Italy

Italy 1990 - An Overview

Italy hosted the 1990 World Cup, becoming the second country to stage the global showpiece for the second time after Mexico.

The tournament began with a bang as defending champions Argentina were beaten 1-0 by unfancied Cameroon.

Paul Gascoigne in tears after the semifinal defeat against West Germany

The Africans became the first African team to reach the quarter-finals, with 38-year-old semi-retired Roger Milla becoming a fan favourite around the world, with his infectious smile and dance moves.

The run of the Indomitable Lions was ended by the Three Lions, as two late penalties from Gary Lineker gave England a thrilling yet undeserved 3-2 win.

Paul Gascoigne’s tears became one of the defining images of the tournament, as a 98th-minute yellow card in England’s epic semi-final to West Germany in Turin ruled him out of a potential final. England lost the match on penalties.

Mexico was unable to compete in the 1990 World Cup preliminary competition as a result of a two-year ban for age fraud at a youth championship; the United States qualified for the first time since 1950. The Republic of Ireland also competed for the first time and managed to reach the quarterfinal stage without recording a win.

Overall, Italia ’90 was a World Cup for the old powers, with all previous champions present and all of them surviving the group stage. Only Brazil disappointed and lost to Argentina in the second round.

Diego Maradona, who dominated the tournament four years earlier, showed glimpses of his old self but couldn’t fully repeat what he did in 1986.

The Dutch came into the tournament among the favourites but flopped and didn’t win a match. They were beaten by eventual champions West Germany in the second round in a match marred by red cards for Dutchman Frank Rijkaard for spitting and Rudi Voller for pushing and alleged racial abuse.

Sixteen players were sent off at Italia ’90, more than at Mexico ’86 and Spain ’82 combined.

Italia ’90 was also the lowest scoring tournament as most teams played to avoid losing rather than to win. This was especially evident in the knock-out stage when half the matches went to extra-time and/or penalties.


wc flag-italy
Host country: Italy
Dates: June 6 – July 8
Teams: 24 (from 5 confederations)
Venues: 12
Champions: West Germany
Runners-up: Argentina
Third place: Italy
Fourth place: England
Matches played: 52
Goals scored: 115 (2.21/game)
Attendance: 2,516,216 (48,389/game)
Top scorer: S.Schillaci ITA(6 goals)
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THE FINAL Argentina 0 - West Germany 1

The 1990 final between defending champions Argentina and West Germany was held at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and is remembered as one of the most cynical and ugliest finals ever.

Argentina’s Pedro Monzon became the first player in World Cup final history to be sent off, after being shown a straight red card for a reckless studs-up challenge on Jurgen Klinsmann.

Monzon’s team-mate Gustavo Dezotti, already on a yellow, received a straight red card late in the match when he crudely hauled down Jurgen Kohler as Argentina finished the game with nine men.

The match was goalless until the 85th minute when West German defender Andreas Brehme cooly converted a penalty. The penalty was awarded by referee Mexican referee Edgardo Codesal after German striker Voeller was adjudged to have been brought by down Argentina’s Sensini.

Diego Maradona burst into tears at the final whistle and blamed referee Edgardo Codesal for the loss.

It was the lowest-scoring final ever with Argentina becoming the first team not to score during a World Cup final.

The win gave West Germany their third title, as they avenged their defeat at the hands of Argentina in the previous final.

It also meant Germany coach Franz Beckenbauer became the only man to have won both silver and gold medals at the World Cup as a player (1966 and 1974) and as a coach (1986 and 1990).

Another record was West Germany’s three consecutive appearances in the final.


Group stage Cameroon 0-1
Soviet Union 2-0
Romania 1-1
Round of 16 Brazil 1-0
Quarterfinal Yugoslavia 3-2
 Semifinal  Italy 1-1 (4-3 pens)
West Germany
Group stage Yugoslavia 4-1
 UAE 5-1
 Colombia 1-1
Round of 16 Netherlands 2-1
Czechoslovakia 1-0
 Semifinal England 1-1(4-3pens)
The German national team as they lined up in the finsl against Argentina

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