The sweet revenge over Argentina set England on their way to the second round, where they met Denmark on this day. The Danes had scored two classy goals to beat Uruguay before eliminating reigning champions France, but now they self-destructed early on.
David Beckham's corner found Rio Ferdinand, who headed the ball sideways. Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen clutched it to his chest, dropped it, then tried to claw it back. While it was crossing the line, Thomas Helveg was adding injury to insult by smacking his head against the advertising boards behind the goal!
Naturally FIFA awarded the goal to Ferdinand, who should have been embarrassed to accept it. Denmark collapsed after that, conceding two more goals before half-time. Michael Owen turned and scored when Nicky Butt's flick was deflected into his path, and thanks to the rain even the goal-shy Emile Heskey dipped his bread in, his shot skidding through Sorensen. After this, even Brazil must have looked beatable.
On the same day, Oliver Kahn continued his fine form by keeping a clean sheet on his 33rd birthday. Germany began their sequence of 1-0 wins by eliminating Paraguay, Oliver Neuville scoring with only two minutes left.
All four British countries were back on the pitch.
Northern Ireland produced the top performance, recovering from defeat by Argentina to hold Cup holders West Germany to a 2-2 draw. Harry Gregg made several good saves despite hobbling throughout, while Tommy Casey, a half-back pressed into service as the latest centre-forward, needed stitches in his shin.
The walking wounded went ahead when Jimmy McIlroy's cross reached the unmarked Peter McParland. Helmut Rahn, whose two goals had won the 1954 World Cup and beaten Argentina this time round, showed a full range of skills for such a powerhouse, hitting a beautiful chip over Gregg for the equaliser. McParland volleyed Northern Ireland back in front, but Uwe Seeler at last got through with a massive 25-yarder. Even then, McParland almost won it, heading onto the top of the bar. All honours even.
But these heroics would have come to nothing if Argentina had beaten Czechoslovakia as expected. Instead their slow ancient game was taken apart by pace and movement, wingers Zdenek Zikan and Vaclav Hovorka scoring twice each. The 6-1 defeat was equalled under Diego Maradona but never surpassed as Argentina's worst ever. Six of the team weren't capped again, including the brilliant Ángel Labruna, a star against the Irish but showing his 39 years today. Meanwhile the Czechoslovaks went into a play-off with the Irish for a place in the quarter-finals.
After their thunderous 7-3 win over Paraguay, France were beaten by Yugoslavia, so even though Scotland lost to the Paraguayans, a win today would have put them in the next round. And they picked the right team at last, bringing in Sammy Baird and the great Dave Mackay, giving Bill Brown his first cap in goal after warning benches for the previous 24 matches.
They fell behind to a goal by Raymond Kopa but should have equalised almost immediately, when John Hewie, their tall South African fullback, smacked a penalty against a post. But they couldn't handle Kopa's double act with Just Fontaine, who hit the bar twice as well as scoring the second goal and making Kopa's opener. In the second half, Baird pulled one back with a good early shot, but this was their last match in the finals for sixteen years.
After drawing with group favourites USSR and Brazil, England expected to beat Austria, who'd lost both their opening games. But, like Scotland, England simply weren't good enough. Johnny Haynes and Bryan Douglas had spent the previous season in the Second Division. But they were unlucky that Austria's first goals of the tournament were both scored from long range.
On another day, Karl Koller's shot might have gone into the crowd instead of the very top corner. Haynes scored when the keeper made an unbelievable hash of a simple shot, and big Derek Kevan scored the second from his angled pass. Bobby Robson had another goal disallowed, but Austria missed two easy chances - so a place in a play-off was about right.
Like England, Wales reached a play-off after drawing all three group matches, in their case 0-0 against hosts Sweden, who picked several reserves, to the wry indignation of Hungary, who would have qualified if Sweden had won. Wales were still lucky to survive. 'Nacka' Skoglund missed four good chances and Jack Kelsey was the best keeper in the competition.
British interest apart, the most important match was played in England's group. And it was ominous for the rest of the competition. This was the day Brazil found their team. They'd brought a psychiatrist with them, Joao Carvalhaes. Head coach Vicente Feola, thinking of including two new players, asked him what he thought of them. The first, quoth the good doctor, was 'too young, too infantile,' the other so unsophisticated that 'including him in the team would be a disaster.' Feola disagreed and picked them both. They were Pelé and Garrincha. Watch out, world.
Garrincha nearly broke the near post in the first minute, Pele hit one in the second, Vavá scored in the third and stabbed in Garrincha's return pass to win the match 2-0. Pelé missed two early chances but obviously had all the skills in the world, eerily assured for a boy of 17.
Meanwhile no-one has ever been more explosive from a standing start than Garrincha, who flew past defenders on legs that were bent from birth. And Vava was a hammer up front. Even Lev Yashin had to hold his hands up.
As in 1974, Scotland began the tournament with a win over the group minnows, but again they made a meal of it, or at least a messy snack. No problems in the first half, when John Wark headed two goals and Kenny Dalglish forced the ball in as he was tackled.
But after the break Danny McGrain and woeful keeper Allan Rough hesitated, and Steve Sumner poked the ball in. Then Steve Wooddin drove in a long ball to pull it back to 3-2. Scottish pulse rates were lowered by John Robertson's curling free kick and Steve Archibald's header, but the margin wasn't what it might have been - and Brazil were next.
The only team to score ten goals in a World Cup finals match. El Salvador had played three times in 1970 without scoring a goal. When they got one today, the exchange rate was extortionate. Hungary scored seven goals in the second half on the way to winning 10-1.
László Kiss scored the fastest hat-trick in a finals match and the only one by a substitute. El Sal's goal also came from a sub, Baltazar Ramírez Zapata sparking wild celebrations when he converted a short through-ball. According to Hungary's coach, the scoreline gave Hungary half a goal advantage over Maradona's Argentina; a draw would be enough.
After their heroic 0-0 draw with Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago nearly staged a repeat against England. There were only seven minutes left when David Beckham hit one of his long crosses from the right and Peter Crouch belied his choirboy image by levering himself up with a handful of Brent Sancho's dreadlocks before heading the opening goal. Steven Gerrard got a second from long range, but again England looked short of ideas and class, hitting some truly terrible long balls.
In the other game in the group, Sweden scored a goal at last, less than two minutes from the end of their second match, a downward header by Arsenal's Fredrik Ljungberg. After losing to England, Paraguay were eliminated by their second successive 1-0 defeat.
Glenn Hoddle left Paul Gascoigne out of his squad for the finals - but England didn't miss him in their opening match. Tunisia looked the weakest and least ambitious team in the tournament so far, so England should have scored earlier than the 42nd minute, when Alan Shearer headed a free kick past an eccentric dive by the keeper.
Paul Scholes ensured Gascoigne wasn't missed. In the last minute, he thought of trying a one-two with Paul Ince 'but my first touch wasn't good enough'. So he broke a tackle before whipping the ball inside the post from the edge of the area. For some, the match was almost an afterthought to the violence they came for: the night before, tear gas had been used to break up fights between rival fans.
According to a Guardian editorial, 'the start of the trouble coincided with the arrival of a double-decker bus, sponsored by the Sun, playing the national anthem and handing out bowler hats.' According to the Independent, 'It seems that careful cropping was required to ensure that the ruckers sporting Sun bowlers were not seen by the paper's readers.'
In the same group, Romania beat Colombia with a sumptuous goal. Gheorghe Hagi's backheel found Adrian Ilie on the left, and he cut outside a defender before showing great technique and confidence in digging the ball over the keeper with his right foot. Their match with England looked likely to decide the group.
Meanwhile Eric Wynalda won his 100th cap for the USA in a 2-0 defeat by Germany, Jürgen Klinsmann scoring the second goal.
On the same day in 1990, Klinsmann scored one of West Germany's goals in their 5-1 win over the United Arab Emirates, who were lucky not to conceded ten. His partner Rudi Voller missed four good chances before scoring twice.
Italy goalkeeper Dino Zoff had gone 12 international matches without conceding a goal. A total of 1,143 minutes that still stands. Who were the team to end that world record? Haiti, of course. Before the match, they'd been playing up their 'secret weapon', voodoo, and for nearly an hour it didn't seem tongue-in-cheek. They held Italy goalless at half-time and scored in the first minute after it, Emmanuel Sanon taking a through-ball round Zoff.
Italy eventually ground out a 3-1 win, but their credentials had taken a big blow. Ernst Jean-Joseph became the first player to fail a drugs test in a World Cup finals tournament. Whether he took anything deliberately still isn't clear, but that didn't stop Haitian officials beating him up at the team hotel before sending him home to face Baby Doc Duvallier and his thugs. He survived to play in the qualifying rounds of the next two World Cups.
Meanwhile Poland emerged as group favourites and unexpected breath of attacking air. Their head coach promised they'd play 'offensive football', which raised a grim smile from those who remembered Poland's brutality in their home qualifiers against England and Wales. But here they were a pleasant surprise, scoring twice in the first nine minutes on the way to beating Argentina 3-2.
Włodek Lubański's injury against England led them to adopt West Germany's successful system of two fast wingers (Robert Gadocha and Grzegorz Lato) and a single central striker (Vlad the Impaler lookalike Andrzej Szarmach). Lato scored two goals, Szarmach the other as Poland suddenly looked an exciting and dangerous side.
So did Holland, whose talents came together at long last. Almost casually brilliant, they won very easily against a brutal and discredited Uruguay. Julio Montero Castillo was sent off for kicking Rob Rensenbrink, and Pablo Forlan (Diego's dad) should have joined him for kicking Johan Neeskens. Johnny Rep scored an early goal and a late one and Wim Jansen hit a post. Johan Cruijff, of course, was already established as the greatest attacking player of his generation.
An exciting goal glut led to the elimination of one of the best teams in the tournament. The USSR had thrashed Hungary 6-0, drawn with the fancied French, and expected to beat a Belgian team whose only win so far was 2-1 against Iraq.
Making light of the heat and altitude, the Soviets played at a high tempo and took the lead when Igor Belanov swerved to his right and hit a twenty-yarder that careered through the thin air and went in off the top of a post. Small and wiry, he had a tremendous match, a successful year at club level, and that shot sealed his selection as European Footballer of the Year. He later restored the lead and added a penalty in extra-time - but finished on the wrong end of a 4-3 defeat.
The USSR played at such a pace that their moves were imprecise and untidy and they ran them out of steam. Meanwhile the Belgians, unimpressive until now, bombed the their defence with high crosses. The USSR hit the woodwork through Sergei Rodionov (a marvellous shot) and Ivan Yaremchuk, and their elimination was the tournament's loss - but it was hard to begrudge Belgium their win.
In another second-round match, hosts Mexico won 2-0 against Bulgaria, who were criticised for adding nothing to the tournament. But maybe, as in 1970, they simply couldn't cope with Mexican conditions. Manuel Negrete scored a marvellous opening goal, hitting an acrobatic volley after a volleyed return pass from Javier Aguirre - but Mexico couldn't have asked for more compliant opposition.