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. For this goal he was in the middle of a fine six-pass move in the UAE half which ended with the ball being whipped in hard from the byline. Susic stormed out of nowhere to plant a powerful header into the back of the net.
Aged 35, he was only three years younger than Roger Milla.
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 was overwhelmed by the Eastern Europeans, Caligiuri dispossessed a defender on the halfway line and laid the ball off to John Stollmeyer, who returned an accurate forward ball. Caligiuri evaded one tackle, took the ball around the goalkeeper and pounded his strike into the net just before a desperate defender could intervene. It was America’s first World Cup finals goal for 40 years.
8. Salvatore Schillaci, Italy vs Austria
A great team goal that introduced the previously unknown Sicilian forward to the globe. Having come off the bench for his World Cup debut, Schillaci was involved in the build-up as Italy exchanged a series of neat passes deep in the Austria half. The ball was played forward to Gianluca Vialli, who beat his man before lofting in a delicious cross. Schillaci found a gap in the defence and thumped his header home, before going absolutely ballistic and instantly becoming a national hero. It became the symbol of Italian football remembered the world over.
1:57 for the goal
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 bombed into the Romania box to seize upon a hopeful back-header from a team-mate, first racing past a defender like a man half his age with a beautiful touch. Then, from a narrow angle, Milla launched the ball past the goalkeeper at his near post.
Having only just recovered from Careca’s vile advances (see No.6), the poor old corner flag found itself being menaced by Milla’s celebrated African love jig.
6. Careca, Brazil vs Sweden
A masterclass of movement, skill and sexy dancing. Branco picked up the ball in midfield and shrugged off two Swedes, accelerating into the opposition half. He slowed and picked out an exquisite pass: beautifully weighted and arrowed between two defenders, releasing Careca’s perfectly timed run.
The forward then scuttled towards goal, shimmied left like a Strictly Come Dancing star to send the keeper to ground, and sidefooted home. There followed a curiously erotic Latin boogie for the corner flag.
The first goal here
5. Lothar Matthaus, Germany vs Yugoslavia
Matthaus, 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 he didn't possess the subtlety of Baggio on the ball, Matthaus’s method – an all-out, explosive sprint – was just as terrifying. He left a Yugoslav defender for dead before bashing a piledriver into Tomislav Ivkovic’s net.
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 was masterminded by Paul Gascoigne, whose buccaneering run into the Belgian half beat two defenders and was ended by a hack from a third.
Gazza took the free-kick himself, lofting a deft sand wedge into the only available metre of space behind the Belgium defence. Platt calmly waited for the ball to loop over his right shoulder, rotated 180 degrees and blasted the ball home, sending his team-mates – and nation – batty.
3. Jurgen Klinsmann, Germany vs Yugoslavia
When he wasn’t diving to win free kicks, Klinsmann was the daddy of diving headers – and none were finer than this effort that opened Germany’s 1990 World Cup account.
A sprightly diagonal run across the Yugoslav area took the striker into a seemingly unthreatening position on the far left-hand side of the box. Klinsmann, however, eked out an incredible effort from Andrea Brehme’s cross, applying a requisite amount of ‘the eyebrows’ to angle the ball perfectly betwixt defender, keeper and post.
2. Claudio Cannigia, Argentina vs Brazil
A goal from nothing crafted by Maradona’s genius, as the Argentine captain played on the opposition’s fear of his dribbling prowess to create space for his partner. El Diego picked the ball up in his own half, evaded two desperate tackles and powered towards the area. Clearly worried, two defenders lost their head and surrounded him, comically banging into each other in the process.
Maradona coolly released the now-unmarked Cannigia, who displayed skill himself to round goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel and net the strike that sent the Brazilians home.
1. Roberto Baggio, Italy vs Czechoslovakia
Baggio shared with 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 group stage strike came in a 2-0 win for the Azzurri, earning them top spot ahead of their opponents. Baggio received the ball on the left wing, then exchanged a neat one-two with Giuseppe Giannini before bombing goalward. He casually hurdled a leg-breaking lunge before turning the final defender inside out and thumping the ball home. Bellissimo indeed.
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Nick Moore is a freelance journalist based on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. He wrote his first FourFourTwo feature in 2001 about Gerard Houllier's cup-treble-winning Liverpool side, and has continued to ink his witty words for the mag ever since. Nick has produced FFT's 'Ask A Silly Question' interview for 16 years, once getting Peter Crouch to confess that he dreams about being a dwarf.
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