World Cup history
 14/12/04 01:10 EST
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1990 World Cup, Italy

It may not be over until the fat lady sings, but this World Cup could not start until her male equivalent had done his party piece. Proving that Italy is the land of Opera (and Pasta), Luciano Pavarotti and Nessum Dorma helped to elevate football to pop-"culture" status.

The tournament got off to a flying start, with reigning Champions Argentina confidently expected to trounce minnows Cameroon. To the dismay of everyone south of the River Plate, and not a few bookmakers, the Africans came up trumps, and although their unorthodox tackling led to two dismissals they held on to record an historic 1-0 victory.

Cameroon continued to surprise, and were eventually only put out in the quarter-finals after extra time by England. England then went all the way to penalties before succumbing to Germany while in the other semi-final the hosts were to suffer the same fate against Argentina, one goal from their surprise hero Toto Schillaci - the tournament's top scorer with 6 in total - not enough for victory on this occasion.

The final was more slapstick than opera, with prodigious diving and overacting from both sides. The Germans managed to out-perform the Argentinians in this respect, with two Argentine players seeing red. The fate of the cup was settled by Andreas Brehme from the penalty spot...a taste of things to come 4 years later.

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