The 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States was the first final to have been decided by a penalty shoot-out in front of a 90,000-plus crowd at Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
The finalists, Brazil and Italy, played fascinating football all through the tournament. As the two best sides in the tournament, they were in the final. But when Italy’s attack was a single-man show, that is Roberto Baggio, Brazil’s was a two-prong attack, with Romario and Bebeto rattling the opposition’s defence.
Romario, who won the best player award, scored five goals in total, while his partner in crime, Bebeto, pitched in with three.
Both Brazil and Italy were looking to lift their fourth World Cup title. In the final, they played gruelling 120 minutes of football, which saw both goalkeepers, Claudio Taffarel and Gianluca Pagliuca, having a busy time under the bar.
But the match failed to live up to expectations, as both teams resorted to hard tackling. They could not be separated after regulation time. As a result, the FIFA World Cup final would be decided on penalties for the first time since its inauguration in 1930.
Italy skipper Baresi was the first to attempt the spot kick. His shot went over the crossbar, but goalkeeper Pagliuca denied Brazil the lead, saving Marcio Santos’ effort.
Things remained the same in the next two attempts, with Demetrio Albertini and Alberigo Evani scoring for Italy; and Romario and Branco cancelling them out for Brazil with their spot kicks.
In the fourth spot kick, Brazil goalkeeper Taffarel saved Daniele Massaro’s low kick, jumping to his left. And then Brazil captain Dunga did not waste the chance to give his side a 3-2 lead.
With Italy trailing, it was now up to their superstar, Baggio to deliver. Baggio, the 1993 FIFA Player of the Year, has been the star of the tournament. He singlehandedly pulled off his team from the jaws of defeat, scoring in the quarterfinal and semifinal.
But he succumbed to the expectations of his teammates and the nation. As it turned out, Baggio blasted the ball over the crossbar in a similar fashion to Baresi, spoiling Italy’s hope of winning its fourth World Cup title.
The world’s best player stared down into the ground dejected, as the Brazilians burst into a wild celebration, becoming the champion for the fourth time. Romario, who scored five goals in the World Cup, went on to win World Player of the Year in 1994.