As we continue our countdown to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil here at PST, each day from now until the tournament begins we will look back at a memorable moment from years gone by.
Here is number 9.
PST’s Top 20 World Cup moments – No. 9: Italy bungles penalties to lose 1994 final
That was the cry heard by millions in the United States from broadcaster Roger Twibell as prolific Italian scorer Roberto Baggio sent Italy’s final chance at winning the World Cup over the goal and the country of Brazil into elation.
Baggio’s name became synonymous with Italy’s failure in the final, but the truth is the club made a mockery of the penalties. After 120 minutes of scoreless play in Pasadena, the state of the tournament would be cruelly played out in front of a captive stadium of nearly 95,000.
It started on the wrong foot for Italy, as Franco Baresi sent one over the bar. But Gianluca Pagliuca rescued the first round by snaring Marcio Santos’ brutal attempt. Brazil turned clinical after that point, taking a one-goal lead when Claudio Taffarel saved Daniele Massaro in Round 4 and Dunga buried his chance.
That put the pressure on Baggio, but that was fine. Roberto was a scorer, and this would be no problem. I remember vividly watching the game in my uncle’s living room, surrounded by a bevy of family and friends rooting (mostly) for Italy.
The room was not prepared for a save, let alone a miss. Baggio has scored five times in that tournament, all in knockout games: a brace against Nigeria in the Round of 16, the winner in the quarterfinal against Spain and another two against Bulgaria in the semifinal.
But he sent it over, and Brazil were crowned champions.
Baggio would describe the miss as the springboard to one of the darkest periods in his life, one that found the slighest redemption when he converted a penalty at the 1998 tournament to equalize against Chile (becoming the first Italian to score in three tournaments):