100 Most Memorable World Cup Moments (100-91)

The beautiful game returns to its spiritual home with the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. We at Goalden Times are revisiting the 100 most memorable moments from the past editions. Some are inspirational, some are controversial. Some will leave a smile on your face, some will make you wanting for more. You will find everything here. The first installment: Moments 100 – 91.


Match: Uruguay vs Argentina

Round: Final

Venue & Date: Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay. July 30, 1930.


Estadio Centenario was the venue of first ever FIFA World cup final. Two neighbouring nations Uruguay and Argentina qualified for the final and started it with a unique controversy in front of 90,000 people. Both the teams wanted to play with the ball made in their own country. Since in those days the ball was made of hard Tiento, with rectangular panels and outer stitching, it required some getting used to for playing properly. Referee John Langenus of Belgium solved the problem with coin-toss. Argentina played the 1st half with “their” ball, leading 2-1 at halftime. Uruguay used “their” ball in the 2nd half, scoring 3 goals to win it 4-2, including the famous 89th minute goal by Hector Castro. This unique episode involving a different ball at each half is one of the most interesting world cup stories.


Match: Italy vs West Germany

Round: Semi-final

Venue & Date: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City. June 17, 1970.


Next we salute one of the all time greats of the game Franz “Der Kaiser” Beckenbauer for his passion and commitment for his team.

It was the 2nd semifinal of 1970 world cup, at Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, between two giants of European football, Italy and West Germany. This game was later billed as “Game of the Century”. Italy led most of the match 1-0, with West Germany equalizing through Karl-Heinz Schnellinger in the very last minute to take it to extra time.

But before that, around 62nd minute, was the key moment of the game. Franz Beckenbauer moved upfront to meet a pass from overlapping center back Bernd Patzke, and after receiving the ball surged forward to take a shot from the tip of the penalty area. He was first tripped by Giacinto Facchetti and then pushed on the shoulder by Pierluigi Cera near the Italian penalty area causing a heavy injury as Kaiser fell sideways on his right arm and apparently broke his arm. West Germany substituted Patzke on 66th minute, with Kaiser still on the field. The injury aggravated in the subsequent minutes. Germany had already used their 2 substitutions (maximum subs allowed those days).

Like a true champion and fighter he is, Kaiser put on a sling in his right arm, and came back on the field. He played the whole extra time with the broken arm. 5 goals were scored in the extra time. Italy ended up winning the match 4-3 but Kaiser Beckenbauer was the one who lived in our hearts forever.


Match: Netherlands vs West Germany

Round: Final

Venue & Date: Olympiastadion, Munich. July 7, 1974.


Johan Cruyff and his beautiful dutch team remains one of the tragic heroes in the folklore of the World Cup football.

Olympiastadion was the venue of first world cup final after the Julet Rimet trophy was permanently handed over to Brazil. Holland played “total football” and brushed aside all the sides which came in their path en route to final, where they faced host West Germany.

Holland kicked off, played around 15 passes before Johan Cruyff was brought down by Uli Hoeneß inside the opposition penalty box. The Dutch took the lead through Johan Neeskens’ spot-kick. They were up 1-0 even before the Germans could touch the ball!

The dream of 1st ever World Cup victory for the Dutch was pretty much on the cards at that stage. But West Germany came back to win it 2-1, thanks to goals from Paul Breitner (penalty) and Gerd Muller.


Match: Argentina vs Cameroon

Round: Group stage

Venue & Date: San Siro, Milan. 8th June, 1990.

Defending champion Argentina, led by the legendary Diego Maradona faced Cameroon in the inaugural match of 1990 World Cup. Maradona had played club football for previous 4 years in Italy, so this World Cup was special for him. Overwhelming favourite Argentina was confident of opening the World Cup with an easy victory, but the “Indomitable Lions” thought otherwise. Cameroon played tough football with compact defence and poor sportsmanship, committing some dangerous fouls throughout the game. Andre Kana-Biyik was sent off at 61st minute for tackling Claudio Caniggia, who was heading towards goal.But surprisingly against the run of play, 10-man Cameroon took lead in the match at 67th minute through a weak header from Andre Kana-Biyik’s brother, Francois Omam-Biyik. Argentine goalkeeper Neri Pompedu fumbled the ball from Omam-Biyik’s header, and conceded a rather poor goal according to his standards. Argentina tried hard to find an equaliser, and on 89th minute, Claudio Caniggia was on course to score, when he was brutally fouled by Benjamin Massing, with Caniggia’s shoe flying off from his foot. Massing was shown red card, but the damage was done.Cameroon won the match 1-0, and the result is still considered one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Argentina went on to play the final of Italia 90, while Cameroon was knocked off in the quarter-final, after being the first African team to play in the last-8 stage of a World Cup.


Match: West Germany vs Hungary

Round: Final

Venue & Date: Wankdorf Stadium, Bern, Switzerland, 4 July 1954.


Wankdorf Stadium was the venue of fifth World Cup final between Hungary and West Germany. The Hungarian side of 50s is still considered to be one of the best sides ever to play the game. A team consisting of legends like Ferenc Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, Zoltán Czibor, Nándor Hidegkuti and many more stars were unbeatable in the world around that time. They were destined for the ultimate glory that year – the World Cup.

The weather on 4th July, 1954 at Bern was rainy. The field was mixture of water and mud, and it suited West Germany better, as they had boots with replaceable studs. Ferenc Puskás did not play in quarter-final against Brazil and semi-final against Uruguay due to injury he picked up in the 8-3 group match win against West Germany. However, it is to be noted that West Germany Manager Sepp Herberger did field a reserve team in that group match thrashing and thus did not reveal the actual strengths of his side.

Hungary still started strongly with Puskás scoring in 6th and Czibor scoring in 8th minute to put the Hungarians 2-0 up, and the inevitable seemed only matter of time. The West Germans fought back in the game with two goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn in 10th and 18th minute respectively. Puskás was clearly not fully fit as he laboured through the match. On the other hand, German goalkeeper Tony Turek made a series of incredible saves to keep Germany in the match. Finally Helmut Rahn scored the winning goal on the 84th minute mark with a left-footed shot from the edge of the box to clinch the coveted title. And thus started the downfall of one of the greatest side to play football.

Hungary never qualified to a World Cup final again. Ferenc Puskás moved to Spain and played 3 games for Spanish World Cup side in 1962. The team disintegrated, and Hungary ever since has struggled to be recognized as a force in world football.


Match: West Germany and England

Round: Semi-final

Venue & Date: Estadio Delle Alpe, Torino, 4th July, 1990.


The match was a tactical affair in the first half but both the teams opening up after the break. West Germany took the lead when Andreas Brehme’s deflected free-kick looped over an advancing Peter Shilton . England equalised through Gary Lineker in the 80th minute, and the match went to extra time . This was the third consecutive game for England which went beyond 90 minutes in Italia 90. Fatigue was evident and a tired Gascoigne fouled Thomas Berthold near side-line on the 8th minute of extra time. Referee José Roberto Ramiz Wright of Brazil showed him the yellow card, which meant that “Gazza”, already booked in the round of 16 win over Belgium, will not be able to take part in the final if England were to progress.

“Gazza” left the field after extra time – which produced no goals – in tears, while team mates Stuart Pearce, Gary Lineker, Des Walker and other members tried to console him. The dream of playing in a World Cup final was over for the passionate footballer. Though he was only 23 years old during Italia 90, and would have had chances of playing more than one World Cup in future, such was the emotional outburst of him, that the “crying incident” became symbolic in world football, and is still considered as one of the most prominent emotional moments in World Cup history.

The story still has more to it. “Gazza” was supposed to shoot the third penalty in the shoot-out, but as he was not composed and crying, English manager Bobby Robson moved him down the list and kept him outside the initial 5 penalty takers. Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missed England’s fourth and fifth penalties respectively, and West Germany won 4-3 in the shoot-out.


Match: Germany vs Bulgaria
Round: Quarter-final
Venue & Date: Giants Stadium, New Jersey, USA. 10th July, 1994.


Germany, the defending champions, were the overwhelming favourites to win the 1994 World Cup. On the other hand, Bulgaria had never won a match in their five previous attempts. They had opened their group stage with a 0-3 defeat to Nigeria but bounced back to beat previous runners-up Argentina 2-0 to qualify for the knock-outs. After beating Mexico 3-1 on penalties in round of 16, they faced reigning world champions Germany, who were in good form.

The first half was a cagy affair where the teams were weighing up each other while the Germans, naturally, had better possession of the ball. The second half started with drama as on the second minute Jurgen Klinsmann was tackled clumsily and brought down inside the Bulgarian penalty box by Iordan Letchkov. True to the expectations, Germany went up 1-0 via a Lothar Mattheus penalty. However, Hristo Stoichkov, maverick and inspirational captain of Bulgaria who was in sensational form for Barcelona, had other plans. He scored the equalizer from his trademark free-kick when he was brought down 30 yards from goal on the 75th minute. Two minutes later, Yordan “The Magician” Letchkov scored the winner as the surprise package of the tournament stunned everyone. Bulgaria went on to finish fourth in the tournament and Stoichkov won the Golden Boot.

This remains the best performance by Bulgaria till now. This is no coincidence as the team was full of brilliant individuals. Stoichkov even went on to win the Best European Footballer of the year award. But it is this match, sometime compared to the battle of Thermopylae for the sheer courage the Bulgarian Davids showed against the German Golaiths that remained in memory as the match of an otherwise dull tournament.


Match: Brazil vs Zaire
Round: Group stage
Venue & Date: Parkstadion, Gelsenkirchen, West Germany. 22nd June 1974.


Pitted against the mighty Brazil was a tiny African nation Zaire (now Democratic republic of Congo) – the first Sub-saharan African nation to enter the FIFA World Cup. Incidentally it remains their – and any east African nation’s – only ever participation in the competition. But they certainly left a mark in the tournament history.

After conceding 11 goals in previous two group matches – including a 9-0 thrashing by Yugoslovia only four days back – they were beaten by 3 goals against the reigning world champions. So what the fuss? Well, it is all about Zaire’s right-back Ilunga Mwepa. Brazil received a free-kick 30 yards from the Zaire goal. Zaire formed a wall and the referee blew the whistle. To everyone’s amusement, Mwepa charged out of the wall from and kicked the ball 70 yards away. The referee promptly booked him to his utter disbelief.

Later Mwepa revealed that he had planned this as a protest to the authorities back home who denied the footballers any payment for the entire tournament. He claimed that the President had threatened them to face dire consequences if they were to lose against Brazil by more than 3 goals.

Everyone started making fun of Zaire, and of all African footballers following this incident as it was perceived as ignorance and naivety to basic football rules.

But Mwepa said: ” I shouted, ‘You bastards!’ at them because they didn’t understand the pressure we were under.” He simply did not want to put in any effort or risk being injured while playing when “those who will benefit financially were sitting on the terraces watching”. He thought he would be given marching orders and that would be his unique way of protesting. So when he saw the color of the card to be yellow, he could not believe it.


Match : North Korea vs Portugal
Round : Quarter final
Venue: Goodison park, Liverpool, 23rd July, 1966


North Korea was the surprise package of 1966 world cup. Tackling obstacles like Korean war and its effect on diplomatic relations with host UK, no national anthem on matches, they emerged as a power to be reckon with during world cup. North Korea defeated Italy in the last match of the group stage 1-0 to qualify for the knock out stage, thus becoming 1st Asian nation to reach the last stage of World cup football. Portugal also made sure they were noticed by football enthusiasts around the world, defeating two time defending champion Brazil in the group stage.

Though Portugal started the match as favorites, North Korea had substantial local support (one reason being England was due to play the winner of this match in semifinal). Pak Seung-Zin scored from a dather casual shot in the 1st minute, and North Korea lead 1-0 till 22nd minute, when Portugese keeper Artur Jose Pereira missed the flight of the ball twice and Lee Dong Woon doubled the lead. 2 minutes later Yang Seung Kook scored from edge of the penalty area, and by 25th minute of the match, scoreline read North Korea 3-0 Portugal. The world cup was awaiting another monumental upset. “Black Pearl”Eusebio had other ideas. Within two minutes, he sped into the penalty area and connected a through pass from Jose Augusto to slot the ball in Korean goal. 3-1. North Koreans started some foul play, and gave away a penalty with only 2 minutes before the half time. Eusebio converted to make it 3-2, and Portugese team felt more confident going into the half time. The confidence was evident at the 2nd half, and in 57th minute, Eusebio scored from a through ball by Simoes to equalise the score 3-3. Koreans could not believe they are on level terms, and lost their composure completely. Brutal fouls continued to pour in, and only two minutes later, when Eusebio entered the penalty area from the left flank, was brutally fouled by a defender. Eusebio injured his knee, but was strong enough to stand up and convert the penalty to make it Portugal 4-3 North Korea. Jose Augusto headed in the 5th goal in 79th minute to complete the comeback 5-3.

Portugal went on to lose the semis 1-2 against England. North Korea in 1966 still remains a fairy tale story. But 4 goals within 31 minutes of football by Eusebio with his team 0-3 down, still remains the greatest comeback story of World cup football.


Match: Iran vs USA
Round: Group Stage
Venue: Stade Gerland, Lyon, France, 21st June, 1998.


If ever a list is prepared for games where political significance overshadowed footballing importance by substantial margin, this match between Iran and USA in 1998 World cup will top that list. Ever since the revolution in Iran on 1979, the two countries had absolutely no diplomatic relationship. Both the governments were at loggerheads with each other regarding a host of political issues (they still are), with attacking each other when slimmest of opportunities aroused. Thus after the draw for 1998 world cup took place, this match-up between Iran and USA gained attention across the globe.

These two countries were placed in the same group alongside Germany and Yugoslavia in Group F. Both Iran and USA lost their opening matches to Germany and Yugoslavia respectively, thus needed to win the match-up between them to at least have a chance to progress to the round of 16. But footballing perspective took backstage for both the nations, especially for Iran, for whom a win against political big brother USA would mean much more than progressing ahead in the world cup.
Before the start of the match, both the teams showed the politicians that football is beyond politics and hatred. Players from both the teams exchanged gifts and flowers; even the customary team photo was actually taken with players from both the teams standing together.

The match began with both the teams playing cautiously for first few minutes. US players saw two of their attempts rebounding from woodwork, while Khodad Azizi of Iran was brought down in the penalty area with no penalty being awarded. With 5 minutes left for half time, Iran took the lead via a Hamid Estili header from a cross by Javad Zarincheh. USA up the ante in the second half in search of an equalizer. Claudio Reyna saw his shot hitting the post for the 2nd time in the match. Iran keeper Ahmadreza Abedzadeh pulled off some incredible saves, including one from Frank Hejduk, who was at hand-shaking distance from him. With US defenders advancing up the field frequently in search of a goal, Bundesliga player Ali Daei found Mehdi Mahdavikia free in the US half via a through ball. Mahdavikia ran down the vacant pitch with great speed, and slotted the ball past advancing Kasey Keller to put Iran ahead 2-0 in the 84th minute. Wild celebrations busted in the stands among the strong Iranian contingent, with players and coaches also celebrating beside the touchline.

The game was not over though. 3 minutes later, Brian McBride headed in a Joe Max-Moore corner, and the ball crossed the goal line after taking a deflection and failed clearance from Naim Saadavi. 1-2. US players surged forward in the final minutes, but the Iran defence hold their fort, with keeper Abedzadeh pulling off some fine saves again to deny the Americans an equalizer. Iran won the match 2-1, and their expression after the match was same as of any side winning the world cup. Though both the countries again lost their respective matches to Germany and Yugoslavia and bowed out of the world cup, this match showed how football can overcome politics and create a story for ages to remember.

Goalden Times Editorial Team

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