88th Minute – Roberto Baggio, Italy v Spain, Quarter Finals, 1994 World Cup
Roberto Baggio went into the 1994 World Cup in the USA as one of the biggest and most expensive stars in the game, expectations were high that he would lead them to glory, and until his very last kick in The Rose Bowl it looked likely he would achieve that. Italy’s World Cup began in disappointing fashion with a loss to the Republic of Ireland. The other Baggio, Dino was the saviour against Norway in their next game which saw Roberto surprisingly being withdrawn when Italy were reduced to ten men following the dismissal of goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca. Italy’s manager Arrigo Sacchi risked everything when he withdrew his star man, but it paid off as Italy won 1-0 and he would go on to explain that he wanted “10 fit men”. Italy made it through after a draw against Mexico and that’s where Baggio’s World Cup really came to life. The exciting and confident Nigeria were their opponents in the second round and for eighty-nine minutes it looked as if Italy were heading back home but Baggio saved the game despite Italy only having ten men again (and lucky not to have nine) and then he scored again in extra time to set up a meeting with Spain in Foxborough, Massachusetts
Dino Baggio had given Italy the lead in the first half but just before the hour mark Spain levelled though Caminero’s deflected shot. Italy were lucky not to be down to ten for Tasotti’s assault on Luis Enrique.
What Happened Next?
Roberto Baggio continued his fine form in the semi-finals turning in a match winning display yet again. Bulgaria were his victims this time but he also suffered with an injury which affected his prepartions for the final and clearly his final performance too. Italy played Brazil in the final under the Californian sunshine. It was simply too hot so the game was slow and trying. The game went to penalties where Baggio needed to score to keep his country in it, he blazed his penalty over the bar and Brazil became champions of the world for the fourth time.