England's first World Cup match as champions. In the heat and altitude of Guadalajara in Mexico, they produced a workmanlike victory against Romania thanks to Geoff Hurst's left-foot shot after 64 minutes. But the match was best known for the antics of left-back Mihai Mocanu, who nearly crippled three England players. First he kicked Keith Newton's knee so badly he had to go off, then he took Lee's legs, then went after Newton's replacement Tommy Wright ("I thought my leg had snapped, my eyes watered like they've never done before"). Franny Lee felt "he must have created a new tackle, leaving identical bootprints on each knee." Any one of those fouls would have earned a red card, but the past is a foreign country and Mocanu wasn't even booked. The England players still standing felt they were in good shape for the main event against Brazil on five days later. On the same day in a different group, Peru made a great comeback from 2-0 down. Before the match, there was a minute's silence for the victims of Peru's recent earthquake - then Bulgaria opened the scoring with a clever free kick. Dinko Dermendjiev ran past the left-hand side of the Peruvian wall, the ball went to the other side and was touched into his path by a team mate, and he drove in the first goal of the tournament on his 29th birthday. Christo Bonev scored from another free kick, fumbled in by the keeper. Then Peru started taking their chances. One of Alberto Gallardo's thunderbolts crashed in off the bar, then three Peruvians stood in the end of the wall at a free kick; their captain Hector Chumpitaz shot straight at them and scored with a ground shot when they stepped aside. Finally the great Teofilo Cubillas played a one-two before beating a man and shooting an excellent winner. Peru, rampant by now, had two other goals disallowed. In a third group, Israel played their first ever World Cup finals match, losing 2-0 to Uruguay, who lost their best player Pedro Rocha for the rest of the tournament after only 13 minutes. They consequently did really well to reach the semi-finals.1962 Another good day for England in the World Cup. Having lost their opening match to Hungary, they desperately needed to beat Argentina, who'd won their first game. After watching Argentina's brutality against Bulgaria, England "were determined the same thing wasn't going to happen to us." They went out to "bite in", and the Argentinians began behaving themselves. New cap Alan Peacock got in a header which was handled on the line, and Ron Flowers didn't miss penalties while playing for England. Then Bobby Charlton scored with a low shot and Jimmy Greaves put in a loose ball. Argentina pulled one back but struggled against an England defence in which a young Bobby Moore looked composed in only his third international. Meanwhile, Italy and hosts Chile gave the world the Battle of Santiago. Italy had been jeered and whistled in their first match, but this was something else. Two Italian journalists, Antonio Ghirelli and Corrado Pizzinelli, had written a series of articles highlighting the poverty, illiteracy and general 'backwardness' of Santiago and the morals of its women. Both reporters left the country before the tournament, so the Italian team had to bear the brunt of local reaction. They later claimed the Chilean players were spitting in their faces from the start. English referee Ken Aston took no action when Giorgio Ferrini and Leonel Sánchez kicked each other, but then sent off Ferrini for retaliation. Play was held up for eight minutes until the police shepherded Ferrini away. Soon afterwards, the worst (and worst refereed) moment of the competition, Sanchez responding to a series of kicks from Mario David by flattening him with a punch right in front of a linesman. When Aston did nothing, David took things into his own hands, getting himself sent off for kicking the Sanchez in the neck. They later played together with Milan, where "we became great friends"! Chile's Jorge Toro not only rugby-tackled Italy's captain Bruno Mora but held him down so long that Aston had to get down like a wrestling referee to prise them apart! No sending-off for that, or for Toro's raised fists in the last minute, or the punch that broke Humberto Maschio's nose (the finger was variously pointed at Sánchez again and Eladio Rojas). Italy's nine men conceded two late goals which knocked them out of the tournament, and their players were later stoned at their training camp. Aston became a senior member of World Cup refereeing committees, but this was the last match he refereed in any finals. Two other players were sent off in another match on the same day. Uruguay had won their opener while Yugoslavia lost theirs, so when Yugoslavia went a goal down, they were on the way out. But Dragoslav Sekularac began to run the show, using his great ball control and flair and keeping his famous temper in check. Yugoslavia won 3-1. In a late free-for-all, faces were slapped and Ángel Ruben Cabrera and Vladimir Popovic were sent off. But the biggest news of the day was the injury that forced Pelé out of the tournament. After scoring a marvellous goal against Mexico, he tried a shot against Czechoslovakia but felt something give way in his groin. Later he remembered the way Ján Popluhar and Jan Lala refused to go into hard tackles while he stood helpless on the wing, "one of those things I shall always remember with emotion, and one of the finest things that happened in my entire football career". But Brazil had to look around for a replacement before the deciding match with Spain in four days' time.
GettyImagesTeofilo Cubillas: Peru's foremost player on the World Cup stage
1978 Two more red cards. From the stands at 'El Monumental' Stadium in Buenos Aires, a snowstorm of blue and white tickertape, descending through the floodlights, welcomed the players onto the pitch, one of the great World Cup visuals. It was actually toilet paper torn into shreds, which just about sums a country under a new military regime. Hosts Argentina conceded an early goal, then subjected Hungary to a series of bodychecks and minor fouls, plus the odd major one like a waist-high kick by their captain Daniel Passarella. Eventually Hungary's two most skilful players retaliated and got sent off: Andras Torocsik, who'd been fouled a dozen times without protection, and Tibor Nyilasi who walked off with his head held high. Argentina won 2-1 but left a bad taste in the mouth. Earlier in the day, Italy recovered from Bernard Lacombe's goal after only 37 seconds to beat France 2-1. And Tunisia also came from a goal down to become the first African country to win a match in the finals, beating a feeble Mexico 3-1.
2002Not such a great day for England, though the point they picked up was useful in the end. In their first match of the tournament, they took the lead against Sweden when Sol Campbell scored his only goal in 73 internationals. In an eerily exact copy of his disallowed goal in France 98 (30 June), he headed in David Beckham's corner halfway through the first half. But England fell away completely in the second, giving one of their very worst performances under Eriksson, which is saying something. Emile Heskey was his usual timid self, Paul Scholes produced little going forward, and Beckham was still recovering from a broken foot (the first time most of the population had heard the word "metatarsal"). Niclas Alexandersson equalised after an hour, and England were lucky to hang on for the draw. Having a Swedish manager didn't help against Sweden, who'd now gone ten games without defeat against England since 1968, a sequence they added to in the 2006 finals (20 June). Here in 2002, England were second favourites for their next match, five days later against Argentina... ...who won their opening match on this day. Gabriel Batistuta twice came close before heading the only goal of the game against Nigeria. It was his 56th and last for Argentina, a very impressive national record that still stands. 1993 Yet again, not such a great day for England. In his time as manager, Graham Taylor picked some very poor players, who gave some really dreadful performances. This was the worst. Picking a "a pig's arse of a team" (his words, everyone's opinion) to counter the very ordinary Jostein Flo, Taylor watched them lose 2-0 in Norway, who were made to look good. They scored their goals either side of half-time and eventually qualified for the World Cup finals at England's expense, after which Taylor lost the job as well as the plot.