A finals tournament full of great goals started with one of the very best. After only six minutes of the opening match, Germany's little left-back Philipp Lahm cut inside two defenders from the left and hit a marvellous curling right-footer in off the top of the far post.
Paulo Wanchope twice broke through the centre of the German defence to score for Costa Rica, but Miroslav Klose also scored twice, and Torsten Frings belted another tremendous goal from over 30 yards. Even without their injured captain Michael Ballack, Germany looked the part in attack, and their defence got better as the tournament went on.
Klose scored his two goals on his birthday. Born in Poland in 1978, he formed a complementary and prolific partnership with Lukas Podolski, who was born in the same country. In this World Cup tournament, Klose finished as top scorer with five goals to match the five he headed in the 2002 finals. Elegant but determined and mobile, he was just about the perfect striker by now, and scored his 48th goal for Germany in 2009. He scored his first after coming on as a late sub on his debut in 2001.
In the other match in this 2006 group, Poland were just as disappointing as in 2002. Without strikers like Klose and Podolski, they were also short of ideas in midfield and class in defence. Ecuador were rather too defensive but still scored twice, through Carlos Tenorio in the first half and all-time top scorer Agustín Delgado with ten minutes left. By the time two Polish substitutes hit the post, there were only four minutes left. It was the first competitive match Ecuador ever played in Europe.
Italy's first match in a World Cup held at home graphically illustrated their problem up front. They'd conceded only one goal in their last nine games but scored only two goals in the last seven. Against Austria in Rome, they dominated possession but missed easy chances. Eventually they brought on Salvatore Schillaci, whose staring eyes became a feature of the tournament. With only eleven minutes left, his emphatic header brought his first goal for Italy, who were relieved to start with a win, narrow or otherwise.
After Cup holders Argentina lost to Cameroon the day before, Romania went to the top of the group with a surprise 2-0 win over a talented Soviet Union team. Marius Lacatus scored both goals, the second from a penalty awarded for a foul committed well outside the box.
In their first ever finals match, the United Arab Emirates didn't have the firepower to trouble Colombia. Hardly surprising for a country with less than 3,000 registered players. Colombia's captain Carlos Valderrama, of the bushy yellow dreadlocks, scored the second goal in a 2-0 win. There were three pairs of brothers in the UAE squad. Two of those pairs played here.
Two iconic first-round replays: After their draw with Switzerland five days earlier, Germany picked three more Austrian internationals, led 2-0, played against ten men for a while - and still lost, to the rest of Europe's glee. Switzerland scored an own goal and had Georges Aeby stretchered off with a head wound, while their captain Severino Minelli was feeling an injury from the first match. But Aeby came back on, Switzerland equalised, then 'Trello' Abegglen scored two late goals. It was the last time the Germans took part in the finals without reaching the last eight.
Cuba, utterly unknown before the tournament, drew with Romania but decided that three goals were too much to concede. So they replaced their star goalkeeper Benito Carvajales with stocky little Juan Ayra, who played even better, 'a fantastic acrobat' applauded by the crowd. He conceded a goal in the first half but none in the second, when Cuba scored two quick goals to win the match. Romania had a headed equaliser disallowed for offside and didn't appear in another finals match until they met defending champions England in 1970.
For the second time in six days, the Maldives lost a World Cup qualifier 12-0 to Syria. The islanders were only 1-0 down at half-time, compared with 7-0 in the first match, but Arif Agha and Said Zaidan scored hat-tricks as Syria hit five goals in the last eight minutes.
That marvellous all-round midfielder Jean Tigana scored only one goal in 52 matches for France, but it was a very good one. Exchanging passes with Michel Platini and Dominique Rocheteau, he shot in sweetly at the near post. The 3-0 win over Hungary put France in the second round.
Japan won a World Cup finals match for the first time. After drawing with Belgium in Saitama, they beat Russia 1-0 in Yokohama. Junichi Inamoto hadn't played a League match for Arsenal, who probably took him on loan to sell shirts in Japan and shipped him on to Fulham the following month. But he scored against the Belgians and scored again here. Russia's all-time top scorer Vladimir Beschastnykh went round the keeper before slicing the ball into the side netting. His recent form had been so bad he'd wished he could 'cut my legs off and throw them away', which might have put ideas in the heads of some shady people back home. The result sparked riots in Moscow, where two people were killed, vehicles were set on fire, and the injured included five Japanese students.