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Greatest World Cup team performances

Following Holland's destruction of Spain in the World Cup last night, Sports Mole looks back at some of the greatest team performances in the tournament's history.

The Netherlands stunned the globe with a resounding mauling of the reigning world and European champions Spain yesterday, coming from behind to win 5-1 against the all-conquering side that had beaten them in the final four years previously.

Their performance, particularly in a second half that saw them find the net four times, has been rightly lauded as one for the ages, and it will go down as one of the greatest team displays in World Cup history.

With that in mind, Sports Mole has picked out a few of the other memorable team displays from the archives of the tournament, taking quality of opposition and significance into account.



1. Hungary 8-3 West Germany, 1954 Group Stages

Throughout the early 1950s, Hungary's Magical Magyars were regarded as by far the strongest team in European football. In the years preceding the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, Ferenc Puskas and co had shattered the delusions of grandeur suffered by England by becoming the first team to beat them on home soil, and then following that up with an even more emphatic victory back in Hungary.

They therefore went into the tournament as favourites, but the way they went about their business was even more impressive than anyone could have expected. An 8-3 victory over West Germany was the highlight, with Sandor Kocsis getting on the scoresheet four times in the rout.

While Germany were not expected to pose much of a threat to the Hungarians, they proved that they were no pushovers after all by going on to win the tournament - beating Hungary in the final. That result is regarded as one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history and has since been dubbed 'The Miracle of Bern'.



2. Brazil 5-2 Sweden, 1958 Final

The birth of Brazil. The nation now regarded as the finest in football history claimed their first World Cup crown in the final against hosts Sweden, and they did it in style.

Having gone behind to a Nils Liedholm strike after just four minutes, the Selecao soon responded through Vava's effort in the ninth minute. Vava then added another to give his side the lead before Brazil's prodigy - a teenager called Pele - stole the show.

The youngster scored twice, including one sublime goal that saw him flick the ball over the head of a defender before finishing, as Brazil blew Sweden away. Following the match, Swedish midfielder Sigge Parling noted: "After the fifth goal I didn't want to mark Pele anymore. I just wanted to applaud him."



3. Brazil 4-1 Italy, 1970 Final

Has there ever been a better football team than Brazil's 1970 side? The then-two-time World Cup champions made it a hat-trick in the most glorious fashion with a 4-1 victory over Italy in what is widely regarded as the best final in the tournament's illustrious history.

Led by the embodiment of their brilliance in the form of Pele, Brazil achieved football immortality with a display many believe to be the best in the history of the game - certainly at international level. The fact that they did it on the grandest stage only served to add to the occasion as a team including the likes of Jairzinho, Roberto Rivelino and Carlos Alberto ran riot.

The piece de resistance came with the fourth and final strike as Brazil signed off arguably the best-ever World Cup with one of the best-ever World Cup goals. A superb team move ended with Pele mixing simplicity with perfection, laying the ball off for Carlos Alberto, who drilled his effort past Enrico Albertosi and into the bottom corner.



4. Italy 3-2 Brazil, 1982 Second Round

Brazil's 1982 side were arguably almost as good as the immortals of 12 years previously, yet they never managed to get past the second round of the World Cup courtesy of a fine Italian performance in Barcelona. Both sides played their part in an all-time World Cup classic, with Brazil refusing to forego their attacking instincts.

That proved to be their downfall as Paolo Rossi struck a memorable hat-trick to send the Brazilians crashing out of the competition. Socrates and Falcao had both registered for the Selecao, but Rossi netted his third goal 15 minutes from time to complete a shock for the Azzurri, who went on to win the tournament.

The likes of Zico were also in the Brazil side that day, and the class of 1982 is still widely regarded to be one of the greatest teams never to win the World Cup. It was one of the tournament's most entertaining matches, and the Italian performance has gone down in history.

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Pele, when playing for Santos, smiles at the camera ahead of a friendly match on June 13, 1965
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina24151453
United StatesUnited States20241660
JapanJapan175931
AustraliaAustralia1431431
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Today's Olympic highlights header

Monday's key events


ATHLETICS
· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

SAILING
· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

FOOTBALL
· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

CYCLING
· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

WEIGHTLIFTING
· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

HOCKEY
· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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