The 1994 FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup headed to the United States of America in 1994 but the tournament ended with a familiar winner.

Group Stage

This was the last tournament when only 24 teams qualified for the finals whilst FIFA increased the number of points for a win from two to three to encourage attacking play following criticism of defensive tactics at the previous World Cup.

Group A will forever be remembered for Andrés Escobar.

In the second round of group matches, the Colombian defender scored an unfortunate own goal against the United States in a match which they lost 2-1 and would result in elimination from the competition. Escobar was shot dead 10 days later in what was described as a revenge attack.

Romania topped the group with Switzerland and the United States also qualifying.

Brazil went unbeaten through Group B and Sweden finished as runners-up but there was no third place qualifier.

Group C also produced just two qualifiers as Germany and Spain weren’t troubled by South Korea and the lowly ranked Bolivia.

Greece lost all three of their Group D games as Nigeria, Bulgaria and Argentina all finished on six points but the African nation took top spot thanks to a superior goal difference.

Incredibly Mexico, Republic of Ireland, Italy and Norway finished Group E with four points and the same goal difference but the Scandinavian nation were eliminated due to the fact they only scored one goal from their three games.

Morocco were another unlucky side to be eliminated in the group stage as they lost each match by just a single goal as the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Belgium booked their places in the last 16 with six points each and the same goal difference.

Last 16

A Rudi Völler inspired Germany beat Belgium 3-2 whilst Spain eased into the last eight with a 3-0 victory against Switzerland.

An adventurous Swedish outfit eased to a 3-1 victory over Saudi Arabia and Romania stunned Argentina by winning 3-2.

The Netherlands progressed into the next round with a 2-0 victory against a plucky Republic of Ireland team.

Bebeto scored the only goal for Brazil to knock-out the hosts in front of over 80,000 fans at Stanford Stadium.

On the final day of the last 16 stage Italy struggled past a resolute Nigerian outfit and won in extra-time thanks to a Roberto Baggio goal whilst Bulgaria knocked out Mexico in a tense penalty shoot-out after the match finished 1-1.

Quarter Finals

Italy opened the quarter-finals with a 2-1 win against Spain thanks to goals from defensive midfielder Dino Baggio and striker Roberto Baggio.

Branco scored the winner for Brazil as they had the edge in an entertaining five-goal game to knock out the Netherlands.

Late goals from Hristo Stoichkov and Yordan Letchkov helped Bulgaria progress to the final four at the expense of Germany.

Semi Finals

In the first of the semi-finals, Roberto Baggio struck an early brace for Italy before tournament joint-top scorer Stoichkov pulled one back for Bulgaria. The Eastern Europeans could not equalize meaning the Italians progressed to the final.

Romario was Brazil’s hero as he struck an 80th minute winner against a resolute Swedish side who would finish the tournament by winning the third place play-off.


On July 17 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Brazil and Italy played out a 0-0 draw which ensured that the winners would be decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Captain Dunga put Brazil 3-2 up so Italy striker Roberto Baggio had to score but he fired his penalty over the crossbar which ensured the South Americans had won their fourth FIFA World Cup.

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