Top 10: Goals of Italia '90

We round up the tournament's greatest net-ripplers; starring Milla, Platt, Caniggia and lots, lots more...

1. Roberto Baggio, Italy vs Czechoslovakia

Baggio shared with Diego Maradona a low centre of gravity and a fast, tricky dribble that panicked defenders who simply couldn’t predict which way he was going to twist next. This supremely classy strike deserves to rank alongside the Argentine’s celebrated wondergoal of 1990. Receiving the ball on the left wing, Baggio exchanges a neat one-two with Giannini before bombing goalward. He hurdles a leg-breaking lunge casually before turning the final defender inside out and thumping the ball home. Wondrous.

2. Claudio Cannigia, Argentina vs Brazil

A goal from nothing crafted by Maradona’s genius, as the Argentine captain plays on the opposition’s fear of his dribbling prowess to create space for his partner. Picking the ball up in his own half, Diego evades two desperate tackles and powers towards the area. Clearly worried, the entire Brazil backline loses their head and surrounds him, banging into each other comically in the process. Maradona coolly releases the now-unmarked Cannigia, who displays ample skill himself to round keeper Taffarel and bag the strike that would send the Brazilians home.

3. Jürgen Klinsmann, Germany vs Yugoslavia

When he wasn’t diving to win free kicks, Klinsmann was daddy of the diving header – and none were finer than this effort that opened Germany’s 1990 World Cup account. A sprightly diagonal run across the Yugoslav area takes Klinsmann into a seemingly unthreatening position on the far left-hand side of the box. The striker, however, squeezes an incredible shot from Andrea Brehme’s thumping cross, applying the requisite amount of ‘the eyebrows’ to angle the ball perfectly betwixt defender, keeper and post.

4. David Platt, England vs Belgium

A memorable pivoting volley that got England out of jail against Belgium with penalties looming – and made fringe player Platt a household name overnight. It is masterminded by Paul Gascoigne, whose buccaneering run into the Belgian half beats two defenders and is ended by a hack from a third. Gazza takes the free-kick: he lofts a deft sand wedge into the only available metre of space behind the Belgium defence. Platt calmly waits for the ball to loop over his right shoulder, rotes 180 degrees and blasts the ball home, sending his team-mates – and nation – batty.

5. Lothar Matthäus, Germany vs Yugoslavia

Matthäus, who skippered his nation to victory in Italy, was rated by Maradona as his biggest rival: this captain’s charge during the 4-1 dismantling of Yugoslavia shows why. He cracked two superb strikes in this match, the first a brilliant long-range effort, but the second was ever better. While not possessing the subtlety of a Baggio on the ball, Matthäus’ method – an all-out, explosive sprint – was just as terrifying. He leaves a Yugoslav defender for dead before bashing a piledriver into Tomislav Ivkovic’s net.

6. Careca, Brazil vs Sweden

A masterclass of movement, skill and sexy dancing. Branco picks up the ball in midfield and shrugs off two Swedes, accelerating into the opposition half. He slows and picks out an exquisite pass: beautifully weighted and arrowed between two defenders, releasing Careca’s perfectly timed run. The forward scuttles towards the goal, shimmies left like a Strictly Come Dancing starlet to send the keeper to ground and side-foots home. He celebrates by performing a curiously erotic Latin boogie for the corner flag.

7. Roger Milla, Cameroon vs Romania

The cult hero of 1990 became the oldest scorer in the tournament’s history with this thunderbolt. The 38-year-old bombs into the Romania box to seize upon a hopeful back-header from a team-mate. He races past a defender like a man half his age, and from a narrow angle, launches the ball past the goalkeeper at his near post. Having only just recovered from Careca’s vile advances, the poor old corner flag finds itself now being menaced by Milla’s celebrated African love jig.

8. Salvatore Schillaci, Italy vs Austria

A great team goal that introduced the previously unknown Sicilian forward to the globe. Coming off the bench for his World Cup debut, Schillaci is involved in the build-up as Italy exchange a series of neat passes deep in the Austria half. The ball is played forward to Gianluca Vialli, who beats his man to loft in a delicious cross. Toto finds a gap in the defence and powers a header home. The forward goes absolutely ballistic and instantly becomes a national hero. It became the symbol of Italian football the world remembers.

9. Paul Caligiuri, USA vs Czechoslovakia

The Czechs made America wear a dress and cry in this fixture, thrashing them 5-1, but the USA’s consolation was the pick of the bunch. Working tirelessly up front as his team is overwhelmed by the Eastern Europeans, Caligiuri dispossesses a defender on the halfway line and lays off to John Stollmeyer, who returns an accurate forward ball. Caligiuri evades one tackle, takes the ball around the goalkeeper and pounds it into the net just before a desperate defender can intervene. It was America’s first World Cup finals goal for 40 years.

10. Safet Susic, Yugoslavia vs UAE

The Yugolavs took UAE apart 4-1 in this game and the superb passing of playmaker Susic was at the heart of everything they did. He is in the middle of a fine six-pass move in the UAE half, which ends up with the ball being whipped in hard from the byline. Susic storms out of nowhere to plant an incredibly hard header in the back of the net. Aged 35, he was only three years younger than Roger Milla.


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