Steve Staunton became the first player to win 100 caps for the Republic of Ireland as they took on Germany in their second group match. For a long time, it looked as if Staunton would have to enjoy the landmark without relishing the result. After drawing their first match in the group, the Republic were about to lose this one. Germany's Miroslav Klose had headed three goals against Saudi Arabia and now headed another one before celebrating with a forward somersault.
Ireland didn't look like scoring until injury time, when Steve Finnan sent in a prehistoric long ball and Niall Quinn craned his neck for a back-header. The ball fell for Robbie Keane, who chested it past a defender before blasting it in. Even then Oliver Kahn nearly kept it out: the ball went in off his head and the near post. It was the only goal he conceded before the Final (30 June). Relief for the Irish, who now needed only a win against the Saudis.
It took an age for Portugal's 'golden generation' - featuring Luis Figo, Fernando Couto, Rui Costa and João Pinto - to reach the World Cup finals. And on this day in 2002, they probably wished they hadn't. After 36 minutes of their opening match against the USA, they were 3-0 down. John O'Brien volleyed in after only four minutes, then Jorge Costa headed on own goal, and the underrated Brian McBride headed the third. Beto pulled a goal back before half-time, then Jeff Agoos and his ponytail got in on the act. In his 131st international match but his first in the World Cup finals, he volleyed a spectacular own goal. But the two 20-year-olds, Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley, ran well with the ball, while Figo looked exhausted by half-time. It was the first time since 1930 that the USA had won their opening match in the finals.
A headline writer's dream: Rats scoring against Bats. After a goalless first half, Vasily Rats hit a tremendous long-range shot past goalkeeper Joël Bats to put the Soviet Union ahead against France. Luis Fernández soon equalised. The two teams were the class of their group and reached the quarter-finals easily.
So did the reigning champions and the champions-elect. Italy, a shadow of their 1982 team, took the lead against Argentina when Alessandro Altobelli converted a dodgy penalty. But Argentina had someone called Maradona at his peak, and he sidefooted a volley to make the final score 1-1. Both sides reached the second round, but only Argentina looked likely to go any further.
The two other countries in the group, Bulgaria and South Korea, also drew 1-1, which maintained their records of never having won a match in the finals. Bulgaria eventually broke their duck in 1994, South Korea when they hosted the event in 2002.
One of the great World Cup goalfests, with a hat-trick on each side. Brazil led Poland 3-1 at half-time but were forced into extra time by three goals from Ernest Wilimowski. His fourth came too late to stop Brazil winning 6-5 after Leônidas da Silva completed his hat-trick with two goals in extra time. The muddy pitch tore the sole off Leônidas's boot, so he tried playing in his socks, only for the referee to make him put his footwear back on. As far as records show, Wilimowski was the only player to score four goals for the losing side in any international match. He scored others for Germany during the War, which was started by the invasion of his own country. Meanwhile Brazil marched on to fight the Battle of Bordeaux.
Most of the other first-round matches were played on the same day. Host country France scored after only 35 seconds on their way to beating neighbours Belgium 3-1. 1934 runners-up Czechoslovakia needed extra time to beat Holland 3-0. The fancied Hungarians won 6-0 against the Dutch East Indies (the old name for Indonesia), who had nine one-cap wonders in the team and were captained by a man wearing glasses. The unfancied (but seeded!) Cubans drew the first match they ever played in the finals, holding Romania to 3-3 after extra time. They did even better in the replay four days later.
And the Cup holders were given an almighty scare by Norway, who were playing their only finals match before 1994. They were a dangerous bunch at the time. At the 1936 Olympics, they beat Germany before losing only 2-1 to Italy after extra-time, Arne Brustad scoring their equaliser, Italy going on to win the tournament. Exactly what happened here. Italy scored after only two minutes but were then on the rack for the next 88. Brustad, good enough to play for the Rest of Europe against England later in the year, beat Eraldo Monzeglio before hitting a late equaliser, then had a goal disallowed. Monzeglio, a World Cup winner from 1934, got such a roasting from Brustad that he wasn't capped again. It was his birthday, too! In extra time, Italy's famous centre-forward Silvio Piola scored the winner when Norway's goalkeeper spilled a simple shot. It was the champions' hardest match on their way to retaining the trophy.
In 2002's other match on this day, Russia went top of their group by winning their opening match against Tunisia. It took them an hour to score against a very ordinary Tunisia, then Valery Karpin made the final score 2-0 from a penalty. The team was galvanised by the introduction of the 18-year-old Dmitri Sychev. He came on as sub for their all-time top scorer Vladimir Beschastnykh, whose incredible miss against co-hosts Japan cost Russia a place in the next round.