Italy won the World Cup for the first time in 24 years. The first all-European Final since the last time they lifted the trophy was a match of two hours. Italy dominated the first. They fell behind after only seven minutes when Marco Materazzi pulled out of a tackle but Florent Malouda fell over anyway. Zinedine Zidane's penalty hit the bar and barely crossed the line. Materazzi headed an equaliser from a corner, and Luca Toni completed his manful but unlucky tournament by hitting the bar with one header and having a goal disallowed from another.
But then Francesco Totti proved how important he was throughout the competition. When he went off after an hour, France took over the midfield. Franck Ribéry shot just wide after rippling through, and Gianluigi Buffon made a strong save when Zidane headed in a cross. But ZZ's next header suddenly changed everything. It found the centre of Materazzi's chest, in retaliation for a remark about Zidane's sister. Zidane was sent off and never played first-class football again, Materazzi scored in the penalty shoot-out, David Trezeguet was the only player to miss. This time France hit the bar with a penalty, but the ball stayed out. Fabio Cannavaro picked up the trophy after his 100th match for Italy, while Simone Perrotta was born in the same hospital as Geoff Hurst!
Another win for Italy, this time in a quarter-final against Spain. After losing to the Republic of Ireland, Italy had hardly improved, but at least Roberto Baggio had found some form, scoring both goals in the second round. He got the winner today too, after taking the ball round the keeper. Dino Baggio, namesake but no relation, opened the scoring from well outside the area, and Spain equalised with a lucky deflection - but this was still another great Italian escape. Spain should have had a penalty when Mauro Tassotti elbowed Luis Enrique in the face, and Julio Salinas prodded the ball against the keeper when clean through. Baggio immediately scored at the other end. Italy went all the way to the Final. Tassotti didn't.
In another exciting quarter-final, the brilliant Romário scored with a flashing half-volley, then Bebeto was awarded a goal even though Romário was strolling back from an offside position directly in the goalkeeper's line of vision. It takes a lot to recover from something like that, and Holland had it. Dennis Bergkamp pulled a goal back within two minutes, then Aron Winter headed the equaliser from a corner. But Brazil had another shot in their locker, a free kick from Branco that went in off the bottom of the post. Cruel for Holland, but not a patch on Bebeto's goal celebration, the dreaded baby-rocking which later found its way into the English league.
Even better from Brazil. Just possibly the best. After squeaking through their group, they cut loose in the Maracanã. Sweden had beaten Cup holders Italy, but now they were hammered 7-1. It's tempting to wonder about their Swedish defence, but no-one else did this to them. At least three of them were international class, but they'd never met inside-forwards of this standard before, and nor had anyone else. All three had slim physiques and pencil moustaches, Jair a centre parting, Ademir blue eyes and a Jimmy Hill chin, Zizinho a strong resemblance to Little Richard. Their ball control and inter-passing were beyond anything seen in Europe at the time, and nobody was scoring goals like Ademir, who got four today. Sweden's goal from a penalty looks like a prize for turning up.
Not just the scoreline but the result itself gave Brazil an advantage in this final group, because Uruguay could only draw 2-2 with Spain on the same day. Skinny little Alcide Ghiggia gave Uruguay the lead, but Estanislau Basora scored twice in three minutes before half-time, and Uruguay's captain Obdulio Varela had to come up from centre-half to score the equaliser.
Four days later, a draw wouldn't be enough for Uruguay, because Spain lost by an almost equally hefty margin.
Just what Zimbabwe needed. More deaths in a public place. You couldn't even blame Robert Mugabe for them, except for a social climate which encouraged police to attack fleeing spectators with tear gas. The trouble began when Delron Buckley scored his second goal for South Africa with eight minutes to go. Zimbabwe were now 2-0 down in a World Cup qualifier at home - and some of their fans reacted by throwing plastic bottles, which prompted the tear gas. As people tried to escape, the police carried on gassing them, and 13 were trampled to death, to go with the 32 killed in incidents connected with parliamentary elections a few weeks earlier. The match was abandoned and South Africa were awarded the win on their way to reaching the finals.
Steve Coppell was born in Liverpool. When England played in the World Cup finals for the first time in twelve years, they announced their return with one of the fastest ever goals, which started with Coppell's throw-in on the right. He shored up that right flank throughout the tournament, as he did in all his 42 internationals - but England made fewer and fewer chances, so Coppell was dropped for their last match. He'd never really recovered from a foul that wrecked his knee during England's last qualifying match, against Hungary at Wembley (he had another operation after the finals). He scored against Scotland for three years in a row, including two winning goals, and helped Manchester United win the FA Cup in 1977. As a manager, he had four spells at Crystal Palace and in 2006 took Reading into the top flight for the first time. After a year's sabbatical, he took over at Bristol City in May 2010.
Delfín Benítez Cáceres won his last cap for Paraguay until 1945. In between, he played a single match for Argentina, at the 1934 World Cup, where the team included Constantino Urbieta Sosa, who'd also played for Paraguay. A split in the Argentinian FA led to a skeleton squad of amateurs travelling to Italy. Only two had ever been capped before, and none of them was capped again, while their Italian coach took charge of just this one match. Argentina scored very early in each half, from a free kick by full-back Ernesto Belis and a dribble by Alberto Galateo. But two bad errors by goalkeeper Héctor Freschi handed Sweden a 3-2 win. It was Argentina's last World Cup match until 1957.