(aet; Brazil win 3-2 on penalties)
ITALY'S hero, Roberto Baggio, the man whose goals kept them in the tournament, stood forlorn at the Rose Bowl here when his missed penalty gave Brazil the World Cup for a record fourth time. It was the first time the World Cup final had been decided by a penalty shoot- out.
The possible irony of a Baggio blunder silenced a crowd in excess of 90,000 as he strode forward with Italy's destiny. He paused, moved to the ball and scooped it over the bar, turning away in utter dejection.
Franco Baresi had missed the opening strike of the shoot-out, but Brazilian celebrations were short- lived as Marcio Santos had his shot saved immediately afterwards. Demetrio Albertini, Romario, Alberigo Evani and Branco, converted the next four kicks but then Daniele Massaro had his shot saved by Taffarel. Dunga converted to give Brazil a 3-2 lead before's Baggio's miss.
In truth, justice was done in a final that never touched the heights expected of it in the context of a thrilling World Cup. Relying heavily on their defensive expertise, bringing back Baresi who had been injured in their second game, Italy hung on for 90 minutes and then through extra time. They lived dangerously, benefiting from Brazil's careless finishing, only occasionally launching attacks of their own.
Unquestionably the best team in the tournament, more imaginative and inventive than any other, striking a balance between natural gifts and sound organisation, Brazil got their reward. When it was over, the entire squad and the coaching staff stood in a tight circle, arms linked around shoulders, giving thanks for their victory and then leaping for joy.
Italy's coach, Arrigo Sacchi, sprang a surprise when he announced the inclusion of Baresi. After his injury he underwent explorative surgery on his right knee and it had been felt that the veteran from Milan would not recover in time to appear again, but Sacchi clearly felt the need for his vast experience. He also took a risk with Roberto Baggio, who had only three days to recover from a strained hamstring in the semi-final and was only half-fit.
Predictably, Italy were no more adventurous than any of Brazil's opponents had been, concentrating on keeping numbers behind the ball and adopting a counter-attacking policy. Italy's only threat in the opening stages came along Brazil's right, where Nicola Berti was always keen to get forward, and it took some hard tackling to keep the moves from developing into something serious.
When Brazil were awarded a free-kick, they worked an opening for Dunga to centre and, astonishingly, Italy's defence allowed Romario a free header that he sent straight at Gianluca Pagliuca.
Italy did not give Romario any special attention, but Baresi was usually on hand with a decisive clearance or challenge whenever Brazil's leading scorer threatened to squirm through or latch on to through passes. However, it was Paolo Maldini, playing on Baresi's right, who crucially intervened when it seemed that Bebeto would score from the pass that Romario rolled perfectly into his path.
Carelessness in midfield almost cost Brazil dearly when Massaro got past two defenders to bear down on goal. Unfortunately for him, the ball sat up awkwardly and he could only direct it straight at Taffarel, who had advanced from his line before diving to his left. The loss of Jorginho in the 20th minute was not that big a problem for Brazil because it enabled them to introduce Cafu, a skilful and swift full-back with all Jorginho's eagerness to get forward as an auxiliary attacker.
There was an extraordinary incident when Romario received the ball in what he obviously thought was an offside position. The referee confirmed this, but Brazil protested that the Cameroon linesman, Hayatou, had not raised his flag.
A buzz of excitement grew among Brazil's supporters when a free-kick was given against Italy to the right of their penalty area. When Branco drove the ball in from about 25 yards, Pagliuca could not hold it and it fell to Mazinho, who made a complete mess of finding the unmarked Aldair, missing his kick completely.
With half an hour played, little had been seen of Roberto Baggio, who clearly was feeling the effects of his injury, constantly reaching to massage his right leg. Cafu began to make an important contribution, getting forward along the right, but unfortunately for Brazil, his centring was not up to the standard of his initiative.
It took some alert defending by Roberto Mussi to keep out Romario when he thrust through but, in coping with the threat, the Italian hurt himself badly enough to cause a substitution, Luigi Apolloni coming on as a replacement.
Much to Roberto Baggio's disgust, most of Italy's forward passes were overhit and it took carelessness by Brazil to provide him with a chance of getting into the game. With Baresi coming in support, he ran swiftly at Brazil's defence but could not quite get to the pass.
Brazil stepped up the pace and Romario tested Pagliuca with a right-footed shot on the run and, when Apolloni body-checked him shortly afterwards, the Italian was booked, to be quickly followed by Albertini for an offence in the defensive wall.
Another free-kick for Branco, another anxious stop by Pagliuca. Little occurred to disperse the unavoidable notion of an ordinary match enlivened only by Brazil's trickery. Bebeto was offside when getting his head to a centre and, when Italy launched a rare attack, Roberto Baggio was smothered by Marcio Santos.
Following the departure of Mussi there had been a rearrangement in the Italian team, the substitute Apolloni going to centre- back, Antonio Benarrivo switching full-back positions and Maldini playing in the area with which he is most familiar.
Maldini's brilliance in the position was seen to full effect when he managed to stay the course with Cafu and hooked the ball out of play when the Brazilian was in full stride.
BRAZIL (4-4-2): Taffarel (Reggiana); Jorginho (Bayern Munich), Aldair (Roma), Marcio Santos (Bordeaux), Branco (Fluminense); Mazinho (Palmeiras), Mauro Silva (Deportivo La Coruna), Dunga (VfB Stuttgart), Zinho (Palmeiras); Romario (Barcelona), Bebeto (Deportivo La Coruna). Substitutes: Cafu (Sao Paulo) for Jorginho, 21; Viola (Corinthians) for Zinho, 105.
ITALY (4-4-2): Pagliuca (Sampdoria); Mussi (Torino), Baresi (Milan), Maldini (Milan), Benarrivo (Parma); Berti (Internazionale), Albertini (Milan), D Baggio (Parma), Donadoni (Milan); R Baggio (Juventus), Massaro (Milan). Substitutes: Luigi Apolloni (Parma) for Mussi, 34; Alberigo Evani (Sampdoria) for D Baggio, 94.
Referee: Sandor Puhl (Hungary).
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