Today we are goint to speak about a classical match that took place in the FIFA World Cup 1990 celebrated in Italy. On one side were three-time world champions Italy, a global footballing powerhouse hosting the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time in 56 years. On the other were an Argentina side looking to retain the title they won at Mexico 1986 and boasting the legendary Diego Maradona in their ranks.
The Maradona factor lent a touch of controversy to the game. Staged as it was at Naples’ Estadio San Paolo, the local tifosi were torn between supporting the Napoli idol and their national team, adding to the spice of a match made appetising enough by the fact there was a World Cup Final place at stake.
Played on 3 July 1990, the showdown exceeded all expectations, as La Squadra Azzurra and LaAlbiceleste served up what was without doubt one of the most vibrant and unforgettable matches of the whole competition.
Argentina produced their best football of Italy 1990 after the restart, and pulled level on 67 minutes when Maradona picked out Olarticoechea on the left and the defender swung in a cross that Caniggia glanced past the advancing Zenga and into the net. After 517 minutes of play, the Italians had conceded their first goal of the tournament.
A man down, La Albiceleste retreated into their defensive shell, and with the Italians unable to break through, the game went to penalties. Baresi, Jose Serrizuela, Baggio, Burruchaga, Luigi De Agostini and Olarticoechea all converted from the spot to leave the shootout tied at 3-3, at which point Goycochea flung himself to his left to deny Roberto Donadoni and Maradona coolly slotted home to put his side ahead. The Argentinian goalkeeper then guessed correctly again to keep out Aldo Serena’s spot-kick and send Carlos Bilardo’s men through to their second consecutive Final.
Italy recovered from their heartbreak to shade England 2-1 in the match for third place, a game in which Schillaci once again scored, the Italian striker thus ending the tournament as its top scorer. This Italy side would form the core of the team that went on to reach the Final of the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™, where they lost on penalties to Brazil.
Argentina paid a heavy price for their exertions against the Italians. Shorn of the services of the suspended Giusti, they would also have to do without Caniggia in the Final against West Germany, the blond-haired striker having picked up his second yellow card of the competition in Naples. A tired Albiceleste side failed to fire in the showpiece match and were undone by Andreas Brehme’s late penalty. They have since failed to reach the last four of the FIFA World Cup.
|Maradona with the ball against the Italian Schilaci|
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