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1990 World Cup

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1990 World Cup

"Italia 90" redirects here. For the computer game, see World Cup Italia '90.

1990 FIFA World Cup
Coppa del Mondo FIFA Italia '90
1990 FIFA World Cup official logo
Tournament details
Host country Italy
Dates 8 June – 8 July 1990 (31 days)
Teams 24 (from 5 confederations)
Venue(s) 12 (in 12 host cities)
Final positions
Champions  West Germany (3rd title)
Runners-up  Argentina
Third place  Italy
Fourth place  England
Tournament statistics
Matches played 52
Goals scored 115 (2.21 per match)
Attendance 2,516,348 (48,391 per match)
Top scorer(s) Italy Salvatore Schillaci (6 goals)
Best player Italy Salvatore Schillaci

The 1990 FIFA World Cup was the 14th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 8 June to 8 July 1990 in Italy, the second country to host the event twice (the first being Mexico in 1986). Teams representing 116 national football associations from all six populated continents entered the competition, with its qualification process beginning in April 1988. A total of 22 teams qualified from this process, along with host nation Italy and defending champion Argentina. The official match ball was the Adidas Etrusco Unico. The 1990 FIFA World Cup was the first World Cup that was officially recorded and transmitted in HDTV by the Italian broadcaster RAI in association with the Japanese NHK broadcaster.[1]

The tournament was won by West Germany, who claimed their third World Cup title by defeating reigning champions Argentina 1–0 in the final, a rematch of the previous final four years earlier. Hosts Italy beat England 2–1 to finish third after both lost their semi-finals in penalty shootouts. It would be the last tournament to feature a German side representing the divided Germany, with the country being reunified later in 1990.

The 1990 World Cup is widely regarded as one of the poorest World Cups ever.[2][3][4][5] It generated a record low goals-per-game average of just 2.21- a record that still stands to date[6]- and a then-record 16 red cards were handed out, including the first ever dismissal in a final. Despite this, the 1990 World Cup stands as one of the most watched events in television history, garnering an estimated 26.69 billion non-unique viewers, compiled over the course of the tournament.[7] At the time it was the most watched World Cup in history in non-unique viewers, but was subsequently bettered by the 1994 and 2002 FIFA World Cups.[8]

Following the 1990 World Cup, the back-pass rule was introduced in 1992 to discourage time-wasting and overly defensive play, and wins were awarded three points in the group stage of the 1994 World Cup to encourage more attack-minded tactics and discourage the strategy of playing for a draw.

Host selection

Main article: FIFA World Cup hosts

The vote to choose the hosts of the 1990 tournament was held on 19 May 1984 in Zürich, Switzerland. Here, the FIFA Executive Committee chose Italy ahead of the only rival bid, the USSR, by 11 votes to 5.[9] This awarding made Italy only the second nation to host two World Cup tournaments, after Mexico had also achieved this with their 1986 staging. Italy had previously had the event in 1934, where they had won their first championship.

Austria, England, France, Greece, West Germany and Yugoslavia also submitted initial applications for 31 July 1983 deadline.[10] A month later, only England and Greece remained in the hunt with Italy and the Soviet Union after the other contenders all withdrew.[11] All four bids were assessed by FIFA in late 1983, with the final decision overrunning into 1984 due to the volume of paperwork involved.[12] In early 1984, England and Greece also withdrew, leading to a two-horse race in the final vote. The Soviet boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games announced on the eve of the World Cup decision was speculated to have been a major factor behind Italy winning the vote so decisively,[13] although this was dismissed by FIFA President João Havelange.[9]


116 teams entered the 1990 World Cup, with 114 being required to qualify (due to rejected entries and withdrawals, 103 teams eventually participated in the qualifying stages). Italy as host nation and Argentina as reigning World Cup champions were granted automatic qualification, with the remaining 22 finals places divided among the continental confederations.

Thirteen places were contested by UEFA teams (Europe), three by CONMEBOL teams (South America), two by CAF teams (Africa), two by AFC teams (Asia), and two by CONCACAF teams (North and Central America and Caribbean). The remaining place was decided by a play-off between CONMEBOL and OFC (Oceania).

Both Mexico and Chile were disqualified during the qualification process; the former for fielding an overage player in a prior youth tournament, the latter after goalkeeper Roberto Rojas faked injury from a firework thrown from the stands, which caused the match to be abandoned. Chile were also banned from the 1994 qualifiers for this offence.

Three teams qualified for the first time: Costa Rica, the Republic of Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.

Returning after long absences were Egypt, who appeared for the first time since 1934; the United States, who competed for the first time since 1950; Colombia, who appeared for the first time since 1962; and Romania, who last appeared at the Finals in 1970.

Among the teams who failed to qualify were Hungary, France, Poland, and Portugal.


Twelve stadiums were selected to host the World Cup matches in twelve different cities. The Stadio San Nicola in Bari and Turin's Stadio delle Alpi were completely new venues opened for the World Cup.

The remaining ten venues all underwent extensive programmes of improvements in preparation for the tournament, forcing many of the club tenants of the stadia to move to temporary homes. Additional seating and roofs were added to most stadia, with further redevelopments seeing running tracks removed and new pitches laid. Due to structural constraints, several of the existing stadia had to be virtually rebuilt in order to implement the changes required.

Most of the works cost in excess of their original estimates, and total costs ended up being over £550 million (approximately $935 million). Rome's Stadio Olimpico which would host the final was the most expensive project overall, while Udine's Stadio Friuli, the newest of the existing stadia (opened 14 years prior), cost the least to redevelop.

Rome Milan Naples Turin
Stadio Olimpico San Siro Stadio San Paolo Stadio delle Alpi
56|1.99|N|12|27|17.23|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio Olimpico


28|40.89|N|9|7|27.14|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=San Siro


49|40.68|N|14|11|34.83|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio San Paolo


06|34.42|N|7|38|28.54|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio delle Alpi


Capacity: 72,698 Capacity: 85,700 Capacity: 74,000 Capacity: 68,000
200px 200px
1990 FIFA World Cup (Italy)
Stadio San Nicola Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi
5|5.05|N|16|50|24.26|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio San Nicola


26|7.28|N|10|58|7.13|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi


Capacity: 56,000 Capacity: 42,000
Florence Cagliari
Stadio Artemio Franchi Stadio Sant'Elia
46|50.96|N|11|16|56.13|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio Artemio Franchi


11|57.82|N|9|8|5.83|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio Sant'Elia


Capacity: 41,000 Capacity: 40,000
Bologna Udine Palermo Genoa
Stadio Renato Dall'Ara Stadio Friuli Stadio La Favorita Stadio Luigi Ferraris
29|32.33|N|11|18|34.80|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio Renato Dall'Ara


4|53.77|N|13|12|0.49|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio Friuli


9|9.96|N|13|20|32.19|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio Renzo Barbera


24|59.15|N|8|57|8.74|E|region:IT_type:landmark name=Stadio Luigi Ferraris


Capacity: 39,000 Capacity: 38,000 Capacity: 36,000 Capacity: 36,000


Squads for the 1990 World Cup consisted of 22 players, as for the previous tournament in 1986. Replacement of injured players was permitted during the tournament at FIFA's discretion. Two goalkeepers – Argentina's Ángel Comizzo and England's Dave Beasant – entered their respective squads during the tournament to replace injured players (Nery Pumpido and David Seaman).

Match officials

41 match officials from 34 countries were assigned to the tournament to serve as referees and assistant referees. Officials in italics were only used as assistants during the tournament. Referees dressed only in traditional black jerseys for the final time at a World Cup (a red change shirt was used for two Group C games in which Scotland wore their navy blue shirts).


North and Central America
South America



The six seeded teams for the 1990 tournament were announced on 7 December 1989.[14] The seeds were then allocated to the six groups in order of their seeding rank (1st seed to Group A, 2nd seed to Group B, etc.).

The seeds were decided by FIFA based on the nations' performance in, primarily, the 1986 World Cup with the 1982 World Cup also considered as a secondary influence. Six of the final eight in 1986 had qualified for the 1990 tournament. Italy – who were seeded first as hosts – had not reached the final eight in 1986, and this left FIFA needing to exclude one of the three (qualified) nations who were eliminated in the 1986 quarter finals: Brazil, England or Spain.

Owing to their performance in 1982 but also to their overall World Cup record, Brazil were seeded third and not considered to drop out of the seedings. FIFA opted to seed England ahead of Spain. Spain had only been eliminated in 1986 on penalties, while England had been defeated in 90 minutes; both countries had also reached the second stage in the 1982 event, but Spain had also appeared in the 1978 event, while England had failed to qualify. FIFA President João Havelange had reportedly earlier stated that Spain would be seeded.[15]

Spain believed the seeding was contrived to ensure England would be placed in Group F, the group to be held off the Italian mainland, in a bid to contain England's hooliganism problems. Spanish coach Luis Suárez said, "We feel we've been cheated...they wanted to seed England and to send it to Cagliari at all costs. So they invented this formula".[14] FIFA countered that "the formula was based on the teams' respective showings during the previous two World Cups. England merited the sixth position. This is in no way a concession to English hooliganism".[14]

Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4

 Italy (1st)
 Argentina (2nd)
 Brazil (3rd)
 West Germany (4th)
 Belgium (5th)
 England (6th)

 Soviet Union

 Republic of Ireland

 Costa Rica
 South Korea
 United Arab Emirates
 United States

Final draw

On 9 December 1989 the draw was held at the Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome, where the group lineups and order of matches was determined. The ceremony was hosted by Italian television presenter Pippo Baudo, with Italian actress Sophia Loren and opera singer Luciano Pavarotti conducting the draw alongside FIFA general secretary Sepp Blatter.[16]

The draw show was FIFA's most ambitious yet with Pelé, Bobby Moore and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, as well as a performance of the tournament's official song, "Un'estate italiana" being performed by Edoardo Bennato and Gianna Nannini.[17]

The event also featured the official mascot of this World Cup, Ciao, a stick figure player with a football head and an Italian tricolor body.[18] Its name is an Italian greeting.

Tournament review

The finals tournament began in Italy on 8 June and concluded on 8 July. The format of the 1990 competition remained the same as in 1986: 24 qualified teams were divided into six groups of four. The top two teams and four best third place finishers from the six groups advanced to the knockout stage, which eliminated the teams until a winner emerged. In total, 52 games were played.

Negative tactics

The tournament generated a record low goals-per-game average and a then-record of 16 red cards were handed out. In the knockout stage, many teams would "play it safe" for 120 minutes and try their luck in the penalty shoot-out, rather than risk going forward. There were four penalty shootouts, a record subsequently equaled in the 2006 tournament. The overall extra-time matches were eight, a record in FIFA World Cup tournaments that stands still.

Ireland and Argentina were prime examples of this trend of cautious defensive play; the Irish scored just twice in five games in drawing all their matches until their defeat to Italy in the quarter-finals. Losing finalists Argentina, meanwhile, scored only five goals in the entire tournament (a record low for a finalist that, as of 2010, still stands). Argentina also became the first (and so far only) team to advance twice on penalty shootouts, the first team to fail to score in a World Cup final, and the first to have a player sent off in a World Cup final.

Largely as a result of this trend FIFA introduced the back-pass rule in time for the 1994 tournament in order to make it harder for teams to time-waste by repeatedly passing the ball back for their goalkeepers to pick up. Three, rather than two, points would be awarded for victories at future tournaments to help further encourage attacking play.

Emergence of Cameroon

Cameroon reached the quarter-finals, where they were narrowly defeated by England. They opened the tournament with a shock victory over reigning champions Argentina, before topping the group ahead of both them and European Championship runners-up the Soviet Union. Their success was fired by the goals of Roger Milla, a 38-year-old forward who came out of international retirement to join the national squad at the last moment after a personal request from Cameroonian President Paul Biya. Milla's four goals and flamboyant goal celebrations made him one of the tournament's biggest stars as well as taking Cameroon to the last eight. In reaching this stage, they had gone further than any African nation had ever managed in a World Cup before; a feat only equalled twice since (by Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010). Their success was African football's biggest yet on the world stage, and FIFA subsequently decided to offer the CAF qualifying zone an additional place for the next World Cup tournament.

All-champion final four

Despite the performances of nations such as Cameroon, Colombia and Costa Rica, the semi-finalists consisted of Argentina, England, Italy and West Germany, all previous World Cup winners, with a total of eight previous titles between them. After the 1970 tournament, this is only the second time in the history of the World Cup this has occurred. The teams which finished first, second and third had also contested both the two previous World Cup Finals between themselves.


All kick-off times local (CEST/UTC+2)

First round

The first round, or group stage, saw the twenty-four teams divided into six groups of four teams. Each group was a round-robin of six games, where each team played one match against each of the other teams in the same group. Teams were awarded two points for a win, one point for a draw and none for a defeat. The teams coming first and second in each group qualified for the Round of 16. The four best third-placed teams would also advance to the next stage.

If teams were level on points, they were ranked on the following criteria in order:

  1. Greatest total goal difference in the three group matches
  2. Greatest number of goals scored in the three group matches
  3. If teams remained level after those criteria, a mini-group would be formed from those teams, who would be ranked on:
    1. Most points earned in matches against other teams in the tie
    2. Greatest goal difference in matches against other teams in the tie
    3. Greatest number of goals scored in matches against other teams in the tie
  4. If teams remained level after all these criteria, FIFA would hold a drawing of lots

Key to colours in group tables
Group winners, runners-up, and best four third-placed teams advance to the Round of 16

Group A

Hosts Italy won Group A with a 100 per cent record. They beat Austria 1–0 thanks to substitute Salvatore 'Totò' Schillaci, who had played only one international before but would become a star during the tournament. A second 1–0 victory followed against a United States team already thumped 5–1 by Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovaks ended runners-up in the group, while the USA's first appearance in a World Cup Finals since 1950 ended with three consecutive defeats.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Italy 3 3 0 0 4 0 +4 6
 Czechoslovakia 3 2 0 1 6 3 +3 4
 Austria 3 1 0 2 2 3 −1 2
 United States 3 0 0 3 2 8 −6 0
9 June 1990
Italy  1–0  Austria Stadio Olimpico, Rome
10 June 1990
United States  1–5  Czechoslovakia Stadio Comunale, Florence
14 June 1990
Italy  1–0  United States Stadio Olimpico, Rome
15 June 1990
Austria  0–1  Czechoslovakia Stadio Comunale, Florence
19 June 1990
Austria  2–1  United States Stadio Comunale, Florence
Italy  2–0  Czechoslovakia Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Group B

Cameroon defeated reigning champions Argentina. Despite ending the match with only nine men, the African team held on for a shock 1–0 win, with contrasting fortunes for the brothers Biyik: François Omam scoring the winning goal, shortly after seeing Andre Kana sent off for a serious foul. In their second game the introduction of Roger Milla was the catalyst for a 2–1 win over Romania, Milla scoring twice from the bench (making him the oldest goalscorer in the tournament). With progression assured, Cameroon slumped to a 4–0 defeat in their final group game to a Soviet Union (in what would be their last World Cup due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union) side striving to stay in the tournament on goal difference after successive 2–0 defeats. A 1–1 draw between Romania and Argentina sent both through, the latter as one of the best third-placed teams.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Cameroon 3 2 0 1 3 5 −2 4
 Romania 3 1 1 1 4 3 +1 3
 Argentina 3 1 1 1 3 2 +1 3
 Soviet Union 3 1 0 2 4 4 0 2
8 June 1990
Argentina  0–1  Cameroon San Siro, Milan
9 June 1990
Soviet Union  0–2  Romania Stadio San Nicola, Bari
13 June 1990
Argentina  2–0  Soviet Union Stadio San Paolo, Naples
14 June 1990
Cameroon  2–1  Romania Stadio San Nicola, Bari
18 June 1990
Argentina  1–1  Romania Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Cameroon  0–4  Soviet Union Stadio San Nicola, Bari

Group C

Costa Rica beat Scotland 1–0 in their first match, lost 1–0 to Brazil in their second, then saw off Sweden 2–1 to claim a place in the second round. Brazil took maximum points from the group. They began with a 2–1 win over Sweden, then beat both Costa Rica and Scotland 1–0. Scotland's 2–1 win over Sweden was not enough to save them from an early return home as one of the two lowest-ranked third-placed teams.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Brazil 3 3 0 0 4 1 +3 6
 Costa Rica 3 2 0 1 3 2 +1 4
 Scotland 3 1 0 2 2 3 −1 2
 Sweden 3 0 0 3 3 6 −3 0
10 June 1990
Brazil  2–1  Sweden Stadio Delle Alpi, Turin
11 June 1990
Costa Rica  1–0  Scotland Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
16 June 1990
Brazil  1–0  Costa Rica Stadio Delle Alpi, Turin
Sweden  1–2  Scotland Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
20 June 1990
Brazil  1–0  Scotland Stadio Delle Alpi, Turin
Sweden  1–2  Costa Rica Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa

Group D

Group D featured the most goals of all the groups, due in part to the defensive inadequacies of a United Arab Emirates team that lost 2–0 to Colombia, 5–1 to West Germany and 4–1 to Yugoslavia. All three of the UAE's first round opponents reached the last 16, with West Germany topping the group after a 4–1 opening victory over group runners-up Yugoslavia.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 West Germany 3 2 1 0 10 3 +7 5
 Yugoslavia 3 2 0 1 6 5 +1 4
 Colombia 3 1 1 1 3 2 +1 3
 United Arab Emirates 3 0 0 3 2 11 −9 0
9 June 1990
United Arab Emirates  0–2  Colombia Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna
10 June 1990
West Germany  4–1  Yugoslavia San Siro, Milan
14 June 1990
Yugoslavia  1–0  Colombia Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna
15 June 1990
West Germany  5–1  United Arab Emirates San Siro, Milan
19 June 1990
West Germany  1–1  Colombia San Siro, Milan
Yugoslavia  4–1  United Arab Emirates Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna

Group E

The winners of Group E were Spain, for whom Michel hit a hat-trick as they beat South Korea 3–1 in an unbeaten group campaign. Belgium won their first two games against South Korea and Uruguay to ensure their progress; Uruguay's advance to the second round came with an injury time winner against South Korea to edge them through as the weakest of the third-placed sides to remain in the tournament.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Spain 3 2 1 0 5 2 +3 5
 Belgium 3 2 0 1 6 3 +3 4
 Uruguay 3 1 1 1 2 3 −1 3
 South Korea 3 0 0 3 1 6 −5 0
12 June 1990
Belgium  2–0  South Korea Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
13 June 1990
Uruguay  0–0  Spain Stadio Friuli, Udine
17 June 1990
Belgium  3–1  Uruguay Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
South Korea  1–3  Spain Stadio Friuli, Udine
21 June 1990
Belgium  1–2  Spain Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
South Korea  0–1  Uruguay Stadio Friuli, Udine

Group F

Group F was one of the tightest groups in World Cup history. In its six games, featuring European champions the Netherlands, England, the Republic of Ireland and Egypt, no team managed to score more than once in a match, and only one match failed to end in a draw. England's bright start against Ireland – including an early goal from Lineker – faded rapidly, and their lead was cancelled out 20 minutes from time by Kevin Sheedy's low strike. The Netherlands, highly rated following their European Championship victory in 1988, conceded a late penalty to allow an Egyptian equalizer. England largely dominated their match against the Netherlands – despite, for the second World Cup in succession, losing their captain Bryan Robson to an injury which would keep him out of the rest of the tournament – but the closest they came was a Stuart Pearce free-kick which went directly into the net, but was disallowed because the referee had in fact awarded an indirect free kick. (Goalkeeper Van Breukelen was also apparently unaware the freekick was supposed to be indirect, and came very close to touching the ball in attempting to save it, which would have made it a goal if he had touched it but failed to keep it out.) Gary Lineker also had a goal ruled out earlier in the game. Ireland and Egypt failed to have a single shot on target between them in the 90 minutes of their 0–0 draw. The decisive result was England's 1–0 victory over Egypt, thanks to a headed goal by Mark Wright, which won them the group and eliminated the Africans: meanwhile the Netherlands, for the second time, conceded a late equalizer, this time to Niall Quinn after Hans van Breukelen spilled the ball to him in front of goal. For the first time in World Cup Finals history, the drawing of lots was required to divide two teams, as Ireland and the Netherlands ended with identical results.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 England 3 1 2 0 2 1 +1 4
 Republic of Ireland 3 0 3 0 2 2 0 3
 Netherlands 3 0 3 0 2 2 0 3
 Egypt 3 0 2 1 1 2 −1 2

The Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands finished with identical records. With both teams assured of progressing, they were split by the drawing of lots to determine second and third place.

11 June 1990
England  1–1  Republic of Ireland Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari
12 June 1990
Netherlands  1–1  Egypt Stadio La Favorita, Palermo
16 June 1990
England  0–0  Netherlands Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari
17 June 1990
Republic of Ireland  0–0  Egypt Stadio La Favorita, Palermo
21 June 1990
England  1–0  Egypt Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari
Republic of Ireland  1–1  Netherlands Stadio La Favorita, Palermo

Ranking of third-placed teams

Group Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
B  Argentina 3 1 1 1 3 2 +1 3
D  Colombia 3 1 1 1 3 2 +1 3
F  Netherlands 3 0 3 0 2 2 0 3
E  Uruguay 3 1 1 1 2 3 −1 3
A  Austria 3 1 0 2 2 3 −1 2
C  Scotland 3 1 0 2 2 3 −1 2

Knockout stage

The knockout stage involved the sixteen teams that qualified from the group stage of the tournament. There were four rounds of matches, with each round eliminating half of the teams entering that round. The successive rounds were: round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, final. There was also a play-off to decide third/fourth place. For each game in the knockout stage, any draw at 90 minutes was followed by thirty minutes of extra time; if scores were still level there would be a penalty shootout (at least five penalties each, and more if necessary) to determine who progressed to the next round. Scores after extra time are indicated by (a.e.t.), and penalty shoot outs are indicated by (pen.).

Round of 16 Quarter-finals Semi-finals Final
24 June – Milan            
  West Germany  2
1 July – Milan
  Netherlands  1  
  West Germany  1
23 June – Bari
    Czechoslovakia  0  
  Czechoslovakia  4
4 July – Turin
  Costa Rica  1  
  West Germany (pen.)  1 (4)
26 June – Bologna
    England  1 (3)  
  England (a.e.t.)  1
1 July – Naples
  Belgium  0  
  England (a.e.t.)  3
23 June – Naples
    Cameroon  2  
  Cameroon (a.e.t.)  2
8 July – Rome
  Colombia  1  
  West Germany  1
25 June – Rome
    Argentina  0
  Italy  2
30 June – Rome
  Uruguay  0  
  Italy  1
25 June – Genoa
    Republic of Ireland  0  
  Republic of Ireland (pen.)  0 (5)
3 July – Naples
  Romania  0 (4)  
  Italy (pen.)  1 (3)
26 June – Verona
    Argentina  1 (4)   Third place
  Spain  1
30 June – Florence 7 July – Bari
  Yugoslavia (a.e.t.)  2  
  Yugoslavia (pen.)  0 (2)   Italy  2
24 June – Turin
    Argentina  0 (3)     England  1
  Brazil  0
  Argentina  1  

Round of 16

Two of the ties – Argentina vs Brazil and Italy vs Uruguay – pitted former champion countries against each other, and West Germany met the Netherlands in a rematch of the 1974 World Cup Final.

The all-South American game was won for Argentina by a goal from Claudio Caniggia with ten minutes remaining after a run through the Brazilian defence by Diego Maradona and an outstanding performance from their goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea. A strong second half showing from Italy saw them beat Uruguay 2–0, thanks to another goal from Schillaci and one from Aldo Serena.

The West Germany–Netherlands clash was held in Milan, and both sides featured several notable players from the two Milanese clubs (interestingly, three from each side, both in clubs and in national teams: Germans Andreas Brehme, Lothar Matthäus and Jürgen Klinsmann for Inter, Dutchmen Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard for AC Milan). After 22 minutes Rudi Völler and Frank Rijkaard were both dismissed after a goalmouth incident. As the players walked off the pitch together, Rijkaard spat at Völler. Early in the second half, Jürgen Klinsmann put the West Germans ahead and Andreas Brehme added a second with eight minutes left. A Ronald Koeman penalty for the Netherlands in the 89th minute narrowed the score to 2–1 but the Germans saw the game out to gain some revenge for their exit to the Dutch in the previous European Championship.

Meanwhile, the heroics of Cameroon and Roger Milla continued in their game with Colombia. Milla was introduced as a second half substitute with the game goalless, eventually breaking the deadlock midway in extra time. Three minutes later he netted a second after Colombian goalkeeper, René Higuita was dispossessed by Milla while well out of his goal, leaving the striker free to slot the ball into the empty net. Though the deficit was soon reduced to 2–1, Cameroon held on to become the first African team ever to reach the World Cup quarter-finals. Costa Rica were comfortably beaten 4–1 by Czechoslovakia, for whom Tomáš Skuhravý scored the tournament's second and final hat-trick.

The Republic of Ireland's match with Romania remained goalless after extra time, and the Irish side won 5–4 on penalties. David O'Leary converted the penalty that clinched Ireland's place in the quarter-finals. Ireland thus became the first team since Sweden in 1938 to reach the last eight in a World Cup finals tournament without winning a match outright. Yugoslavia beat Spain 2–1 after extra time, with Dragan Stojković scoring both the Yugoslavs' goals. England were the final qualifier against a largely dominating Belgium, but midfielder David Platt's swivelling volley broke the stalemate with the game moments away from a penalty shootout.

23 June 1990
Cameroon  2–1 (a.e.t.)  Colombia
Milla Goal 106'109' Report Redín Goal 115'
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Attendance: 50,026
Referee: Tullio Lanese (Italy)

23 June 1990
Czechoslovakia  4–1  Costa Rica
Skuhravý Goal 12'63'82'
Kubík Goal 75'
Report González Goal 54'

24 June 1990
Brazil  0–1  Argentina
Report Caniggia Goal 80'
Stadio Delle Alpi, Turin
Attendance: 61,381
Referee: Joël Quiniou (France)

24 June 1990
West Germany  2–1  Netherlands
Klinsmann Goal 51'
Brehme Goal 82'
Report R. Koeman Goal 89' (pen.)
San Siro, Milan
Attendance: 74,559
Referee: Juan Carlos Loustau (Argentina)

25 June 1990
Republic of Ireland  0–0 (a.e.t.)  Romania
Sheedy Penalty scored
Houghton Penalty scored
Townsend Penalty scored
Cascarino Penalty scored
O'Leary Penalty scored
5–4 Penalty scored Hagi
Penalty scored Lupu
Penalty scored Rotariu
Penalty scored Lupescu
Penalty missed Timofte

25 June 1990
Italy  2–0  Uruguay
Schillaci Goal 65'
Serena Goal 83'
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Attendance: 73,303
Referee: George Courtney (England)

26 June 1990
Spain  1–2 (a.e.t.)  Yugoslavia
Julio Salinas Goal 83' Report Stojković Goal 78'92'

26 June 1990
England  1–0 (a.e.t.)  Belgium
Platt Goal 119' Report


The first game of the last 8 saw Argentina and a Yugoslav side, reduced to 10 men after only half an hour, play out a goalless stalemate. The holders reached the semi-finals after winning the penalty shoot-out 3–2, despite Maradona having his penalty saved. A second Argentine miss (by Pedro Troglio) looked to have eliminated them until goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea – playing because first choice Nery Pumpido broke his leg during the group stage – rescued his side by stopping the Yugoslavs' final two spotkicks.

The Republic of Ireland's World Cup run was brought to an end by a single goal from Schillaci in the first half of their quarter-final with hosts Italy. West Germany beat Czechoslovakia with a 25th minute Lothar Matthäus penalty.

In the last quarter-final Cameroon came to within seven minutes of reaching the semi-finals. After Platt headed England ahead in the 25th minute of their quarter-final fixture, the half time introduction of Roger Milla turned the game in the space of five second-half minutes. First, Cameroon were awarded a penalty, from which Emmanuel Kundé equalised, before Eugène Ekéké put them ahead, then they conceded a penalty, which Gary Lineker converted to equalise. Midway through extra time, England were awarded another penalty that Lineker again converted to send them through to the semi-finals.

30 June 1990
Italy  1–0  Republic of Ireland
Schillaci Goal 38' Report
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Attendance: 73,303
Referee: Carlos Silva Valente (Portugal)

1 July 1990
West Germany  1–0  Czechoslovakia
Matthäus Goal 25' (pen.) Report
San Siro, Milan
Attendance: 73,347
Referee: Helmut Kohl (Austria)

1 July 1990
England  3–2 (a.e.t.)  Cameroon
Platt Goal 25'
Lineker Goal 83' (pen.)105' (pen.)
Report Kundé Goal 61' (pen.)
Ekéké Goal 65'
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Attendance: 55,205
Referee: Edgardo Codesal (Mexico)


The first semi-final pitted the host nation, Italy, against the world champion, Argentina. 'Totò' Schillaci scored to put Italy ahead in the 17th minute, but Claudio Caniggia equalised midway through the second half, the first player to breach the Italian defence in a World Cup record 517 minutes' play. There were no further goals, but a series of serious fouls saw five yellow cards and a red issued, largely to Argentina: the game went to a shootout which Argentina won 4–3, after Roberto Donadoni and Aldo Serena both had their kicks saved by Sergio Goycochea. Argentina's decisive penalty had been converted by Diego Maradona, who playing in his club "home city" of Naples had urged locals to support him rather than their homeland, creating a more muted atmosphere than Italy's previous games in Rome.[14] Argentina reached the final having scored only five goals in the tournament, an all-time record low.

The second semi-final was between West Germany and England. Neither side was able to fashion a clear-cut chance in the first half. The deadlock was broken on the hour mark when a free kick from Andreas Brehme was heavily deflected by the on-rushing Paul Parker, sending the ball into the net. With 10 minutes left, Gary Lineker shot low to the corner to equalise for England, forcing extra-time. In the 99th minute, England's Paul Gascoigne received his second yellow card of the competition and the English player openly wept at the realisation that he would not be allowed to play in the final were England to advance. Extra-time ended without any further scoring, although both sides hit the post, and England had another Platt goal ruled out for off-side, the game went to penalty kicks, where Germany won their third straight World Cup shoot-out, 4–3, to take them to a third consecutive final.

3 July 1990
Italy  1–1 (a.e.t.)  Argentina
Schillaci Goal 17' Report Caniggia Goal 67'
Baresi Penalty scored
Baggio Penalty scored
De Agostini Penalty scored
Donadoni Penalty missed
Serena Penalty missed
3–4 Penalty scored Serrizuela
Penalty scored Burruchaga
Penalty scored Olarticoechea
Penalty scored Maradona
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Attendance: 59,978
Referee: Michel Vautrot (France)

4 July 1990
West Germany  1–1 (a.e.t.)  England
Brehme Goal 60' Report Lineker Goal 80'
Brehme Penalty scored
Matthäus Penalty scored
Riedle Penalty scored
Thon Penalty scored
4–3 Penalty scored Lineker
Penalty scored Beardsley
Penalty scored Platt
Penalty missed Pearce
Penalty missed Waddle
Stadio delle Alpi, Turin
Attendance: 62,628
Referee: José Roberto Wright (Brazil)

Third place match

The game saw three goals in a fifteen-minute spell. Roberto Baggio opened the scoring after a rare mistake by England's goalkeeper Peter Shilton, in his final game before international retirement, presented a simple opportunity. A header by David Platt levelled the game 10 minutes later but Schillaci was fouled in the penalty area five minutes later, leading to a penalty. Schillaci himself got up to convert the kick to win him the tournament's Golden Shoe for his six goal tally. Nicola Berti had a goal ruled out minutes later, but the hosts claimed third place. England had the consolation prize of the Fair Play award, having received no red cards and the lowest average number of yellows per match.

7 July 1990
Italy  2–1  England
Baggio Goal 71'
Schillaci Goal 86' (pen.)
Report Platt Goal 81'
Stadio San Nicola, Bari
Attendance: 51,426
Referee: Joël Quiniou (France)


FIFA announced that the final of this edition will undergo a temporary change: if after 90 minutes and extra-time the match was tied a replay will be played 48 hours.[19] This is due to the negative approach reached by teams in the knockout stage.[19] However, the final between West Germany and Argentina has been cited as the most cynical and lowest quality of all World Cup Finals.[2][3][20][21][22] In the 65th minute, Argentina's Pedro Monzon was sent off for a foul on Jürgen Klinsmann, the first player ever to be sent off in a World Cup Final.

Argentina, weakened by suspension and injury, offered little attacking threat throughout a contest dominated by the West Germans, who struggled to create many clear goalscoring opportunities. The only goal of the contest arrived in the 84th minute when Mexican referee Edgardo Codesal awarded a penalty to West Germany, after a foul on Rudi Völler by Roberto Sensini. Andreas Brehme, who later said there was no foul, converted the spot kick to settle the contest. In the closing moments, Argentina were reduced to nine after Gustavo Dezotti received the second red card of the game when he hauled Jürgen Kohler to the ground during a stoppage in play. The 1–0 scoreline provided another first: Argentina were the first team to fail to score in a World Cup Final.

With its third title (and three second-place finishes) West Germany – in its final tournament before national reunification – became the most successful World Cup nation, until Brazil won their fourth title in 1994. West German manager Franz Beckenbauer became the only man to both captain (in 1974) and manage a World Cup winning team, and only the second man (after Mário Zagallo of Brazil) to win the World Cup as a player and as team manager. It was also the first time a team from UEFA won the final against a non-European team.

8 July 1990
West Germany  1–0  Argentina
Brehme Goal 85' (pen.) Report
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Attendance: 73,603
Referee: Edgardo Codesal (Mexico)


Golden Boot Winner Golden Ball Winner FIFA Fair Play Trophy
Italy Salvatore Schillaci Italy Salvatore Schillaci  England

All-star team

Goalkeeper Defenders Midfielders Forwards


Salvatore Schillaci received the Golden Shoe award for scoring six goals in the World Cup. This made him the second Italian footballer to have this honour, after Paolo Rossi won the award in 1982. In total, 115 goals were scored by 75 different players (none credited as own goals).

  • There were no own goals scored in the tournament.
Players who were red-carded during the tournament

FIFA Final ranking

After the tournament, FIFA published a ranking of all teams that competed in the 1990 World Cup finals based on progress in the competition, overall results and quality of the opposition.[23]


  1.  West Germany
  2.  Argentina

3rd and 4th place

  1.  Italy
  2.  England

Eliminated in the quarter-finals

  1.  Yugoslavia
  2.  Czechoslovakia
  3.  Cameroon
  4.  Republic of Ireland

Eliminated in the round of 16

  1.  Brazil
  2.  Spain
  3.  Belgium
  4.  Costa Rica
  5.  Romania
  6.  Colombia
  7.  Netherlands
  8.  Uruguay

Eliminated at the group stage

  1.  Soviet Union
  2.  Scotland
  3.  Austria
  4.  Egypt
  5.  Sweden
  6.  South Korea
  7.  United States
  8.  United Arab Emirates


  • Italy's performance of 6 wins, 1 draw and 0 losses is the highest ever winning percentage for a team that did not win the World Cup.
  • The Republic of Ireland became the second team in World Cup history to reach the last eight without winning a match (Sweden progressed to the last eight by default in 1938 when Austria withdrew).

See also

References and footnotes

External links

  • Italia 90 on the FIFA website
  • Details at RSSSF
  • History of the World Cup-1990
  • Planet World Cup – Italy 1990
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