The world cup opened up with one of the major shocks of world cup history as Cameroon beat the holders 1-0 in the opening match of Italia 90. Argentina however scraped through the group phase finishing third in their group along with Cameroon and Romania. Jack Charlton led the Republic of Ireland to their first appearance in the world cup finals in 1990. The world cup draw pitted England and the Republic of Ireland against each other in the opening phase, along with European champions Holland. FIFA persisted with the same format as 1986, and all three teams in Group F qualified for the second phase. England started poorly with a draw against Ireland, they had an eventful 0-0 draw with Holland and they beat Egypt to seal there spot in the final 16. Both Holland and the republic of Ireland went through with 3 points apiece.

Only Italy and Brazil emerged from the group phase with three victories under their belt. Scotland were in Brazil’s group and despite losing 1-0 to the minnows of Costa Rica, a good 2-1 victory over Sweden meant Scotland finished in third place. However unfortunately for Scotland, four other third placed sides had done better than them, and Scotland maintained their dismal record of failing to progress beyond the group phase in six attempts.

Argentina met Brazil in the second round and Diego Maradona was the key to Argentina’s 1-0 victory over the Brazilians. England beat Belgium thanks to a David Platt goal in the last minute of extra time. The Republic of Ireland’s dream of world cup success continued in the second round as they made it to the quarter finals by beating Romania on penalties. In the quarter finals they met Italy who had beaten Uruguay 2-0 in the second round. West Germany met Holland in a memorable second round match which saw two players sent off in the first 20 minutes of the match, Rudi Voller and Frank Rijkaard, in which Rijkaard memorably spat at Voller . West Germany went on to beat Holland 2-1 and in the quarter finals they met Czechoslovakia who had just beaten Costa Rica 4-1 in the second round. Lothar Mattaus scored a penalty which won the match for the Germans. Republic of Ireland went out of the world cup in the quarter finals to a single goal from Salvatore ‘Toto’ Schillaci, who then went on to finish top scorer of the world cup finals with 6 goals which earned him the ‘golden boot.’

Argentina were unimpressive in their win over Yugoslavia on penalties. England had finally ended Cameroon’s world cup dream however they only managed to scrape victory. Platt gave England the lead, but Cameroon hit back with two second half goals. In the end the African team’s naivety cost them as they were unable to close the game down. They gave away two reckless penalties and England striker Gary Lineker converted both penalties to send England into a semi final against West Germany.

The semi final produced one of the games of the tournament; England went behind to a cruelly deflected free kick which spun over Shilton. Lineker levelled the score with ten minutes remaining. After extra time the score was still 1-1, so the match was decided by penalties which West Germany won 4-3. The other semi final match was between Argentina and the hosts Italy. Both teams were also drawing after extra time and the South American side’s luck held for yet another penalty shoot out.

The final was a poor match which Argentina believed their best hope of beating West Germany was by playing the match for the penalty shoot out. Two Argentinean players were very harshly sent off. Argentina were not given a penalty which they deserved and at the other end West Germany were given a penalty which many people believed shouldn’t have been given. Brehme converted the penalty into the back of the net and West Germany were the winners of the 1990 world cup.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.