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Top five opening World Cup matches

With two days to go until the World Cup gets underway, Sports Mole picks out five of the tournament's best opening encounters.

On Thursday afternoon hosts Brazil and Croatia will get the 2014 World Cup off and running in Sao Paulo.

The opening match of the tournament can often be a damp squib, but on occasions there have been some entertaining encounters.

Here, Sports Mole has selected five of the best curtain-raisers in World Cup history.

1. Brazil 5-0 Mexico, 1954

Having been shocked to the core on home turf four years earlier when Uruguay triumphed over them in the final, Brazil headed to Switzerland determined to right those wrongs. They may have fallen to Hungary at the quarter-final stage, but they got their campaign off to a memorable start in Geneva. A brace from Pinga, which was accompanied by goals from Baltazar and Didi, had the South Americans 4-0 up before the break. A much more even second half still saw Julinho add another goal for Brazil, who romped to victory.

2. Argentina 1-0 Cameroon, 1990

Inspired to their second World Cup title by Diego Maradona in 1986, Argentina went into Italia '90 as one of the favourites to prosper. They would eventually go on to reach the final - where they were defeated by West Germany - but their passage did not start smoothly. Cameroon had only previously appeared at one tournament, but despite the fact that they ended the match with nine men, they toppled the champions courtesy of a second-half header from Francois Omam-Biyik.

Cameroon's Francois Omam-Biyick's heads in the winning goal against Argentina on June 08, 1990.© Getty Images

3. Brazil 2-1 Scotland, 1998

The Scots had never appeared on a grander stage where world football is concerned and to their credit, they gave the mighty Brazil a major scare in Paris. Cesar Sampaio put the Brazilians 1-0 up in the fourth minute, but the midfielder was then heavily involved as Scotland equalised. It was his foul on Kevin Gallacher that resulted in a penalty, which was duly converted by John Collins. As the minutes wore on it seemed that Craig Brown's men would hold on for a famous draw, only to be beaten in cruel circumstances. Goalkeeper Jim Leighton did well to deny Cafu, but the ball rebounded off Scotland defender Tommy Boyd and trickled into the net.

4. France 0-1 Senegal, 2002

As the holders of both the World Cup and European Championships, it was expected that France would make light work of tournament debutants Senegal in Seoul. However, France's cast of stars were upstaged by the little-known Africans, who would go on to light up the tournament. French frontman David Trezeguet hit the post early on, but Papa Bouba Diop showed him how it was done in the 30th minute when he converted El Hadji Diouf's low cross at the second attempt. The defending champions went in search of an equaliser during the second half, but Senegal held firm.

Papa Bouba Diop scores the only goal of the game for Senegal against France on May 31, 2002.© Getty Images

5. Germany 4-2 Costa Rica, 2006

With the pressure on hosts Germany to deliver in front of an expectant home support, Jurgen Klinsmann's team produced the goods. They found the net on four occasions, thanks to two goals from Mirolsav Klose, while Philipp Lahm and Torsten Frings also contributed. Costa Rica also more than played their part, with former Derby County, West Ham United and Manchester City striker Paulo Wanchope bagging himself a brace. His first levelled up the scores at one goal apiece, before he reduced the arrears to 3-2 in Germany's favour.

Miroslav Klose scores Germany's second goal of the game against Costa Rica on June 09, 2006.© Getty Images

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Miroslav Klose scores Germany's second goal of the game against Costa Rica on June 09, 2006.
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States20231659
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12191344
Great BritainGreat Britain10101232
Today's Olympic highlights header

Monday's key events

· 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)

· 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

· 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)

· 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)

· 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)

· 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)

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

> Today's schedule in full
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