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World Cup thrills and spills – Top 5 Giant Killings

To celebrate the launch of the Mazda Thrillseekers campaign ( here at we’re looking at some of the most thrilling World Cup moments past and present. We start by looking at some of the biggest giant killings that the World Cup has witnessed.

North Korea showed immense spirit and fight when they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Brazil in their Group G opener yesterday. Although the Koreans suffered defeat they held their own against the Brazilian superstars for 55 minutes, they scored a great and deserved goal in the 89th minute to set up a tense finish. Had they been able to grab a point it would have been a tremendous result for the tournament’s lowest FIFA ranked side coming in at 105. With the Brazilians ranked as number one in the world the game should have been a total mismatch but this wasn’t the case. The match got me thinking about the times when a giant has succumbed to inferior opposition, so here are the top five World Cup giant killings:

5. Cameroon v Argentina

At Italia 90’, Cameroon, inspired by Roger Milla were able to defeat reigning champions Argentina in their opening Group B game. Omam Biyick scored the game’s only goal and Cameroon went on to remarkably reach the quarter-finals, becoming the first African team to do so in only their second World Cup. Argentina went on to reach the final but lost out to winners West Germany.

4. Senegal v France

12 years later Senegal went on to have a very similar tournament to Cameroon. Playing in their first ever and to date only World Cup, Senegal shocked everyone by beating the reigning World and European champions France in their opening game. Papa Boupa Diop was the hero for Senegal scoring the game’s only goal after half an hour, France could never get going in the match and afterwards ended up going out in the group stage without scoring a single goal in the whole tournament. Senegal reached the quarter-finals becoming only the second African nation to do so.

3. Ireland v Italy

Who could forget Ray Houghton’s chip over the Italian goalkeeper and the wild celebrations afterwards. Playing in the Giants Stadium in New Jersey, Ireland had the full backing of supporters and went on to win the game 1-0. Jack Charlton ended up taking his unfancied Irish team who were the oldest in the tournament through the group stage and into the second round. The defeat didn’t matter too much for Italy who managed to reach the final, but the victory for Ireland will always remain as one of their greatest memories.

2. USA v England

In the 1950 World Cup staged in Brazil, England met the USA in the group stages of the tournament. England were seen as huge favourites for the match but ended up losing by solitary goal when Haitian-born Joe Gaetjens scored past England and Wolves goalkeeper Bert Williams. Both England and the USA were eliminated from the group stage and the USA didn’t appear in another World Cup until 40 years later in Italia 90’.

1. North Korea v Italy

Prior to this year’s World Cup North Korea have only ever played in the tournament on one occasion. That year was 1966 which everyone will know as a great year for England but it was also a great year for North Korea. Just like now in 2010 North Korea came into the tournament with not many people knowing too much about them and they were expected to go out in the group stage making very little impact. However North Korea didn’t read the script and beat Italy in their final group game which took them through to the quarter-finals at the Italians expense, where they faced Portugal. North Korea then incredibly took at 3-0 half-time lead against a Portugal side that contained the great Eusebio. Their hopes of a semi-final place were then dashed when Portugal rallied back in the second half and ended up winning the game 5-3 with Eusebio grabbing four goals. Still North Korea’s victory over Italy serves as a constant reminder that no team at international level should ever be under-estimated.

Are there any other World Cup giant killings that you would like to add?

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Article title: World Cup thrills and spills – Top 5 Giant Killings

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