England are in the third-place play-off for the first time since Italia ‘90
England lost 2-1 to Italy at the 1990 World Cup
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 14/07/18 7:16am
England will contest the third-place play-off for the first time since 1990 when they face Belgium on Saturday night. The game will bring back memories of the match against hosts Italy when Sir Bobby Robson’s side were beaten 2-1 in Bari.
Chris Waddle's penalty miss and Paul Gascoigne's tears are regarded as the sad culmination of England's brave run at Italia '90 - penalty shootout defeat to West Germany ending their hopes of winning the World Cup for a second time.
But then, as now, there was another match to play. There were even a number of reasons why it was noteworthy. England goalkeeper Peter Shilton captained the team on his final appearance for his country - winning his 125th cap, still a record for the men's side.
Salvatore Schillaci's late winner from the penalty spot for Italy was also enough to earn him the Golden Boot award with six goals. Gary Lineker had begun the game only one behind Schillaci and harboured hopes of winning the prize for a second consecutive World Cup.
As it was, things did not work out for Lineker or Shilton. The former could not add to his tally and the latter made an uncharacteristic error for the opening Italy goal - switching off with the ball at his feet to allow Roberto Baggio to nick the ball away from him.
Shilton was fortunate not to concede a penalty but Baggio was clearly offside when Schillaci played the return pass that allowed him to fire into the vacant net. As Pete Davies noted in the book All Played Out, it was typical of the officiating at the tournament.
"The referee and linesmen disgraced themselves with some atrocious decisions," he wrote in his wonderful account of England's journey at Italia '90. "But with few exceptions, the refereeing had been dismal from the beginning, so there was no surprise there."
If Italy were lucky that Baggio's goal was allowed to stand, the inexplicable decision to disallow Nicola Berti's glorious header in stoppage time was even worse. The midfielder was perhaps five yards onside when the pass was played and could not hide his disgust.
Davies was more complimentary about the game itself. "England and Italy played a fine game of football," he added. "The best of both came out in a match the pointlessness of which was forgotten as the two did themselves and football proud."
With Gascoigne suspended and several key men such as Waddle, Stuart Pearce and Terry Butcher omitted from the line-up, it was a different looking England side as Gary Stevens, Trevor Steven and Steve McMahon returned with Neil Webb involved from the bench.
David Platt scored his third goal of the tournament, heading home Tony Dorigo's left-wing cross to level things up late on, but with a few minutes remaining, Paul Parker was adjudged to have fouled Schillaci inside the area and the striker beat Shilton from the spot.
Robson left his role afterwards, while Shilton and Butcher retired from international football. Platt, meanwhile, would return to Bari one year later to sign a £5.5m deal with the city's Serie A side - by which time Schillaci had already scored his final goal for Italy.
England took the plaudits from the crowd at the end and it was a good-natured occasion with the substitutes even joining in the Mexican wave. That England lost the match means that victory on Saturday would be the country's best ever World Cup finish on foreign soil.
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