100 Most Memorable World Cup Moments (20-11)
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 ninth installment: Moments 20 – 11.
Match: West Germany vs. Hungary
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: St. Jakob Stadion, Basel, Switzerland, 20th June, 1954
The Magnificent Magyars (Hungary) were grouped with West Germany, Turkey and South Korea in group B at the 1954 World Cup. The peculiar format needed each team to play two matches instead of three games. Hungary was drawn to play against Turkey and West Germany. Hungary defeated South Korea 9-0 in their first match (The then World Cup record of victory by maximum margin, matched by Hungary themselves in 1982 against El Salvador). Hungary was to face West Germany in the next match. A victory for Germans meant they would have to play Brazil in the next round – another example of peculiar rules of the tournament. In the quarterfinals, group winners played against other group winners, and runners-up played against runner-up teams.
So the West Germans preferred Yugoslavia as their potential opponent in the quarterfinal as opposed to the mighty Brazil. Coach Josef Herberger fielded a side that had many regulars, but omitted keeper Tony Turek from the side. Heinz Kwiatkowski was not among the best of keepers in the world those days, and the defence was also missing services of Karl Mai.
Hungary had a habit of winning those days. They generally did not care who they were playing against them, they just steamrolled over anybody who came in their path. That match on 20th June was no exception. Sandor Kocsis opened the scoring on the third minute of the match, and Ferenc Puskas doubled it on 18th minute. Kocsis followed soon after to make it 3-0 and the outcome of the match was evident by then. Alfred Pfaff reduced the margin but again Nandor Hidegkuti scored two goals within 4 minutes (52nd and 56th) to make it 5-1 in favour of the Hungarians. This World Cup moment however, is not about the scoreline of this match.
The World Cup moment came about 22 minutes before the final whistle, when Hungary was leading 5-1. Ferenc Puskas received a ball in the right side of the penalty box and was advancing towards the goal, the ball was just in front of him, and Werner Liebrich of Germany was just behind him. Liebrich deliberately put his foot between the two ankles of advancing Puskas from behind, and Puskas’ left ankle crashed against Liebrich’s right foot. Puskas fell awkwardly on his knee and was in severe pain. Hungarians were appealing for a penalty but the referee Willy Ling termed it as unintentional contact. Puskas was treated by the medical team, and water and ice was sprayed on his left ankle.
Hungary went on to win the match 8-3, but the damage was done. Puskas played in “Miracle of Bern” – the final against the same opponents (covered in one of our earlier segment in the countdown series), but missed the semi-final against Uruguay. Laszlo Budai played instead of him and played well. Puskas’ ankle was monitored very closely in the days leading up to the final. Hungary’s team doctor predicted that it would be a miracle if Puskas managed to get fit for the final.
It did not look that way when Puskas scored in the 6th minute and provided an assist two minutes later to give the Hungarians a 2-0 lead in the final. But as the match progressed, it appeared to be one of the biggest mistakes in World Cup history. His ankle was nowhere close to recovered, and Puskas failed to give even a proper pass to his teammates. He missed several easy chances. Two wingers Zoltan Czibor and Mihaly Toth had a hard time connecting with their captain, and played out of their positions just to adjust Puskas in the line up. It was reported that Puskas insisted on playing, which created a problem in the set line-up of the semifinal.
West Germany won the match and World Cup 3-2, and the foul by Werner Liebrich was defined by Brian Glanville as the “kick that won the cup” for West Germany. That kick destabilised the whole Hungarian set up, injured Ferenc Puskas- the best player on the planet at that time. A fully fit Puskas would have made the final scoreline look similar to the one against Germans in the group match.
Later research and investigations revealed that it was not only that kick, but other incidents that handed an undue advantage to the Germans. A member of a study conducted by the University of Leipzig has claimed that the West German players may have been injected with methamphetamine prior to the match. The players believed they were being injected with Vitamin C. Hungarians on the other hand were not in best of their physical abilities during large portions of the match. Werner Liebrich thus claimed his place in World Cup history by a mere foul.
Match: East Germany vs. West Germany
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, West Germany, 22nd June, 1974
World Cup football has produced many a memorable game, for reasons both footballing and otherwise. The game between West and East Germany at the 1974 World Cup became famous for political reasons. Ever since the separation of the two nations after World War II, the relations between the “Germans” had been cold. Political tensions were very much present at the time of the 1974 World Cup. USSR refused to play a play-off match with Chile citing political rule in the South American country. Security measures were taken to prevent any repetition of Palestinian attack that took place in the 1972 Munich Olympics. West Germans did not give enough importance to their Eastern Counterparts in most of the regional decision making, and only recognized each other in the Basic Treaty of 1972.
Amidst all this, the two German sides were drawn along with Chile and Australia in Group 1 in the preliminary round. Their match was scheduled to be the last match of the group. Earlier results panned out in such a way that before going into the final match, West Germany had four points while East Germany had three points from two matches apiece. As Chile and Australia drew each other in the previous match, it meant both “Germany” would qualify. This match would decide who will be the group winners.
Pride, national supremacy, political upper hand, and a lot more than a mere top of the group finish was at stake. West Germany had a star studded line up including Sepp Maier, Berti Vogts, Paul Breitner, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Mueller and Uli Hoeness. In a player to player comparison, the East German team stood nowhere close to their western counterparts. However, what they lacked in individual skill they made up in team spirit and grit. East German champions F C Magdeburg had defeated the mighty AC Milan 2-0 to win European Cup Winners Cup just a few days before the World Cup. Nevertheless, the West Germans were convinced that they would be victorious.
Only a paltry 1500 East German fans, specially selected, travelled to Hamburg via a special train. The match started with both teams playing cautious football. Heinz Flohe took a right footed volley from outside the penalty area which narrowly missed the East German goal. Uli Hoeness missed another chance from hand shaking distance with the goalkeeper, after receiving a low pass from Mueller. Hans- Juergen Kreische missed a seater for East Germany in the closing minutes of the first half as he failed to put the ball in the open net from a couple of yards out. West Germany still had the time to launch a quick attack and Mueller’s left footed effort defeated East German keeper Juergen Coy and rebounded off the post.
The number of attacks reduced in the second half, although the West Germans kept pushing hard for the winner. In the 77th minute of the match, substitute Eric Hamann of East Germany kicked a long ball towards the West penalty area from the midfield. Juergen Sparwasser was running towards penalty area with Berti Vogts and Paul Breitner marking him on either side. Hamman’s pass hit the face of Sparwasser and then fell perfectly at his feet. He continued his diagonal run across the box. Horst Hoettges was right in front of Sepp Maier, but the defender miscalculated Sparwasser’s trajectory. Sparwasser went towards the corner of six yards box, faked a shot shot attempt which made Maier dive, and then slotted the ball inside the goal between Maier and an onrushing Vogts. It was a superb goal and was followed by wild celebrations by the East Germans in the field and the handful of 1500 fans in the stand went berserk. East Germans played a compact defence for the rest of the match, and keeper Croy kept his nerve to keep out the few shots that came towards his goal.
East Germany won 1-0, and after the final whistle, players erupted in celebration inside the field, embracing each other. Photographers rushed inside the field to capture that precious historic moment. Most of the West Germans left the field amidst the celebrations. Only Bernd Cullman and Franz Beckenbauer were seen shaking hands with their East German counterparts.
Till date, this remains the only official World Cup match between these two countries. After the 1990 unison of both the countries, Germany plays as one nation. Ironically, West Germany won three World Cups between 1950 and 1990 and was runner up thrice as well. After the unison of the two German nations, they only reached the final once in five editions of the World Cup – where they lost to Brazil in 2002 Korea Japan.
Match: Germany vs Brazil
Venue & Date: International Stadium, Yokohoma, Japan, 30th June, 2002
2002 World Cup, first and only one so far on the Asian soil, was full of controversy with allegations that the host countries were favored with dubious decisions. Thankfully the final saw two of the most apt candidates fighting it out for the ultimate glory – Germany and Brazil.
The match was a historic one. Since World War II, except for the 1978 edition, either West Germany or Brazil had appeared in the final (later this streak snapped in 2006). But surprisingly this was – and has been to date – the only ever meeting between these two footballing powerhouses in the World Cup history. It also marked the third World Cup final appearance for Brazilian skipper Cafu, a feat yet to be matched by anyone else.
Germany was the usual robust unit – they had conceded only one goal en route to final. But they never scored more than once except the Cup opener where they thrashed lowly Saudi Arabia 8-0. Brazil, on the other hand, scored more freely and looked very promising on attack throughout the campaign. The match also promised to feature a delectable showdown between the leading scorers from each side – Ronaldo, with six goals, and Miroslav Klose, who was trailing the Brazilian by a goal.
The deadlock broke in the 67th minute, in a bizarre fashion and created the moment of the match. German captain, goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, was at his prime. His heroics and leadership skills had choked out opponents and the Germans had conceded only one goal thus far. Whosoever came against him, Kahn simply swallowed them all protecting his goal. But The New Berlin Kahn proved in the final – he was human after all!
Midfielder Dietmar Hamann was robbed off the ball just in front of the German penalty area by Ronaldo. Thomas Linke, turning sideways, made a reluctant attempt to block Rivaldo. Rivaldo saw the opening and took a shot. The ball was coming directly to Kahn but surprisingly he fumbled to deal with it. The ball fell kindly into Ronaldo’s path; with no German defender tracking him down, the Brazilian surely did not need a second invitation.
Kahn, the entire German team, the whole stadium was in shock. How can Kahn make such a schoolboyish error? To be honest, the rugged German defence was to collectively blame for the goal as they lost concentration for a moment. Later, hours of television space and thousands of print media rolls have been spent analyzing the obnoxious behavior of the ball, its dipping nature and complex theories of aerodynamics. But truth be told, it was a routine collection that eluded the iconic Kahn.
Ronaldo scored once more in the 79th minute to secure Brazil’s victory. Germany had got the better of Brazil in every department during the match – except two. Brazil had more shots on target, and more importantly, two goals to prove their efforts. This was Brazil’s record fifth Cup win, a benchmark too high for any other team on planet earth.
At the final whistle, the Brazilians celebrated all over the field. Kahn leaned on the left post and gazed blankly ahead. The German team came to soothe him, but he just kept staring. Kahn then dropped to the ground with his back to the post and spent a few more motionless minutes. Finally, he got up and started to walk away slowly. Just then, he stumbled upon the cheers of German fans. He turned around and graciously acknowledged the applause.
Kahn was awarded the Golden glove and Golden ball – best shot stopper as well as the best player – in the 2002 World Cup. Thus he became and still remains, the only goalkeeper to receive the Golden Ball. Kahn, one feels, just might be eager to exchange those accolades for a World Cup final win.
Match: Nigeria vs South Korea
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa, 2010
Nigeria met South Africa in their last match in Group B of World Cup 2010. They had lost their group opener to heavyweight Argentina by a single goal. They took an early lead against Greece in their next match but succumbed to a 2-1 loss. So going into this match, Nigeria needed a win to have any chance of progressing through.
Nigeria started the match attacking with gusto and took the lead in 12th minute through winger Kalu Uche who did excellently well to beat his marker and reach a goalmouth cross. Nigeria was bossing the midfield and running all the strings. Uche came close again in the 35th minute when his long ranger struck against the woodwork. This proved costly as South Korea equalized within the next three minutes. From a free kick, Ki Sung-Yeung sent the ball into the Nigerian area. Some lackluster defending allowed Lee Jung-Soo to nod it past the goalkeeper Victor Enyeama.
South Korea started the second half where they had finished the first. Nigeria had been really ill disciplined thus far – they had accumulated three yellow cards for rough play in the first half and one of those fouls had already led to the score leveler. After another of those fouls in the 48th minute, Park Chu-Young scored from the resulting free kick.
Nigeria had to do it all over again. And they just got on with the task on hand. The moment of the match came in the 66th minute. South Korean shot stopper Jung Sung Ryong had committed but missed Ayila Yussuf’s cross from the left. The ball fell at Yakubu’s feet, standing barely a meter away from goal. With Ryong trying to catch thin air, Nigerian forward Ayegbeni Yakubu, to the shock of all, missed an empty net with the goal at his mercy – literally standing on the goal line!
Yakubu later scored from the penalty spot and made the score line 2-2. But Nigeria needed to win to go through. They tried hard – attacked relentlessly, struck the post and even missed a sitter in the dying minutes – but could not turn the tables. It seemed they were cursed after that horrendous miss by Yakubu.
In the other match of the group, Greece were beaten by Argentina. Had Nigeria won their match, they would have been through instead of South Korea. But the Super Eagles could only ponder over what would have been if Yakubu did the easiest thing – scored from the goal line.
Much later Yakubu revealed that the horrifying experience still haunts him. He seems lost even today explaining how the ball managed to miss the target.
Match: Northern Ireland vs. Spain
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Valencia, Estadio Luis Casanova, Spain, June 25th, 1982
Northern Ireland was the smallest country in 1982 to qualify for the World Cup final. The legendary George Best had retired from international football and was playing his club football at San Jose Earthquakes at that time. He refused to come out of retirement at the age of 36 just to participate in the World Cup. Northern Ireland was grouped with host Spain, Yugoslavia and Honduras in Group 5 of the preliminary round. They faced host Spain in the last match of the group. The Irish had played out two draws in their first two matches and were on two points, while Spain had three from the same number of matches. Yugoslavs had three points from 3 matches, so Northern Ireland needed a win to qualify.
50,000 fans inside the stadium and many more around the world did not give the Irish a chance. It was to be a routine win for Spain, before the next round of matches. Goalkeeper Pat Jennings was probably the only star player present in the Irish line up while Spain had a star studded team including players like Jose Vicente Sanchez and Jose Antonio Camacho.
Pat Jennings had to spring into action right from the word go. He collected a ball right from forward Roberto Lopez-Ufarte’s feet. Miguel Tendillo’s header narrowly missed the goal from a corner. Attack after attack came towards the Northern Irish goal with forward Norman Whiteside regularly coming in deep to defend. Jose Alexanko then missed yet another header .The first half ended in 0-0, and Spanish fans were getting a little restless for a goal.
The goal did finally come after the halftime, but the Spanish fans were all but delighted by it. Around only two minutes after the restart, Rafael Gordillo went deep inside Irish half and was about to pass the ball to Jose Sanchez on the left wing. Gerry Armstrong intercepted the ball and made a splendid run down the pitch, going past a troika of Spanish players, before releasing the ball to Billy Hamilton who was waiting near the touch line in the right wing. Hamilton quickly advanced down the flank and beat the challenge of Miguel Tendillo to send a cross inside the penalty area. Goalkeeper Luis Arconada misjudged the flight of the ball, and his timing was off by split second when he jumped to punch the ball clear. His poor clearance fell right back in the feet of Gerry Armstrong, who had continued his run into the box after that pass to Hamilton.
Armstrong’s first time grounded drive went through a diving Arconada and the back tracking Spanish defender Alexanko and crashed into the Spanish net. The whole stadium was stunned into silence as the Northern Ireland players celebrated. Spain pushed hard for an equaliser. Lopez Ufarte failed to score again from close range as his shot went directly to a grateful Jennings.
The match took a dramatic turn when Mal Donaghy was sent off in the 62nd minute for pushing Jose Camacho from behind near the corner flag on the right side without any provocation. The Northern Irish were reduced to 10 men, and the Spanish players were pushing desperately for an equaliser. Substitute Enrique Castro Quini failed from close range once and Tendillo failed to put the ball in the net from a goalmouth milieu. Pat Jennings did not allow any ball to go past him for rest of the match. After the final whistle, the Northern Ireland players erupted in joy, with the coaching staff joining the players inside the pitch in the celebration.
This loss forced Spain to be grouped with England and Germany in the next round, instead of France and Austria. Spain failed to win in any of the matches in the next round, and bowed out of their home World Cup.
Match: West Germany vs Poland & West Germany vs. Netherland
Round: Second Round Group Stage & Final
Venue & Date: Walstadion, Frankfurt , West Germany, 3rd July, 1974 & Olympiastadion, Munich, 7th July, 1974
Host West Germany was not having a smooth campaign. They had already lost to East Germany in the last game of the group league (covered in an earlier segment of this series). West Germany defeated Yugoslavia and Sweden in the second round group stage, but their opponent in the last game, Poland, was going great as well. Poland had already defeated Italy and Argentina in group stage, and won five matches on the trot scoring 15 goals.
Poland attacked from the very beginning and prolific scorer Lato’s shot from the left side was tipped off by Sepp Maier before recovering it again to deny the goal. Robert Gadocha’s free kick was about to enter the goal when a flying Maier fisted the ball out for corner, a while later. Poland was playing long balls frequently and German defenders were busy clearing the ball. Maier came to the German rescue again as he consecutively blocked Lato and Gadoch, who both failed to score from inside the penalty area.
Scoreline was 0-0 at the end of first half. West Germany was awarded a penalty in the second half after Bernd Holzenbein was brought down inside the box. But Uli Hoeness’ kick was saved by Tomaszewski. Captain Kzimirez Deyna almost scored for Poland from a long range left footer, as Maier again dived to his left to catch the ball. Finally, Gerd Müller scored for West Germany after the ball landed inside the penalty box from Bonhoff and Gorgon. West Germany held on to the lead in a wet pitch, and progressed to the final to face the Oranje.
It was supposed to be Netherland’s World Cup. Their display of “total football” changed the way the game was played so far around the world. Pass after pass after pass by the Dutch players did not allow the opponents to get a hold of the ball for too long. Netherland steamrolled their way past teams like Argentina, Brazil to the final.
In the final, none of the West Germans were able to touch the ball as they fell behind from a Johan Neeskens penalty in the second minute of the match. The Dutch team played a series of passes before Johan Cruyff entered the penalty area and was tripped by Uli Hoeness.
West Germany actually came back strongly in the match and levelled the score in the 25th minute with a Paul Breitner penalty. Gerd Muller put the Germans ahead just before the halftime. Netherland continued to attack during the whole second half. But like the last match against Poland, Sepp Maier stood firm in front of West German goal. Rob Rensenbrink missed from close range as Maier advanced fast to narrow the angle for him. He again saved a dropped header from Cruyff inside the box as the ball was just about to loop over Maier’s head to enter the goal. Meijer saved a Johny Repp shot at the near post from right side, as Repp had blasted a low volley. Netherland missed a few easy chances where they did manage to beat Maier but failed to put the ball inside the goal. West Germany held on to the lead and lifted the World Cup for the second time. Sepp Maier’s incredible display in two consecutive matches became the talking point among football pundits. Series of incredible saves by the legendary goalkeeper helped West Germany to defeat the stylish Dutch team and their total football, as well as the Polish golden generation to win the World Cup.
Match: Brazil vs Bulgaria & Brazil vs Portugal
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Goodison Park, Liverpool, 12th and 19th July, 1966
Brazil entered the 1966 World Cup as clear favourites. Not only had they won the previous two editions and were earmarked for a never-seen-before third world title, they had the best footballer in their ranks – Pele. Every team was looking for ways to keeping him quiet for the 90 minutes, in vain.
Pele kickstarted the tournament in typical fashion with a goal from a free kick against Bulgaria, becoming the first player to score in three World Cups. He would have surely added to his magical moments but that was not to be. Unable to handle the genius of Black Perl, the Bulgarians started fouling Pele in every opportunity. Brazil eventually won the match 2-0. But by then Pele had been kicked left and right. He was left with severe injuries forcing him to sit out of Brazil’s second game against Hungary.
Brazil lost that game 3-1 and now found themselves in a must win situation in the last group match against Portugal. Pele was wounded; still recovering from the brutal treatment received only a week earlier. But he opted to play in that do-or-die match. Portugal, however, had a Bulgarian template to copy from. The Portuguese players were not bothered in playing a proper game. Their sole objective was to foul Pele – mercilessly. Despite obstinate and ferocious fouls on Pele, the referee, George McCabe from England, did not bother to flash red card to any of the Portuguese players. Pele had to limp on for majority of the match as substitutes were a thing of future.
It was alleged that the referee let Portugal, especially their skipper Coluna – assigned the duty of marking Pele ¬– “get away with murder” as their shameful tackles on Pele went unpunished. He was taken down every time he touched the ball. Even if he was able to evade the first or the second challenge, a third Portuguese player was ready for tackling him ferociously. The world’s best player was kicked and stamped out of the tournament. Brazil lost the match 3-1 and were eliminated from the World Cup at the group stage.
Match: Brazil vs. Yugoslavia
Round: First Round – Group Stage
Venue & Date: Estadio de ‘Maracanã, Rio de Jeneiro, Brazil, 1st July, 1950
The 1950 World Cup was unique for not having a final. Instead it was round robin league format across two stages. In the first of those stages, the host and overwhelming favourites, Brazil, was facing Yugoslavia in their last group match. Earlier Brazil had dropped a crucial point against Switzerland when they let in a goal in the dying moments of the match. Yugoslavia, on the other hand, had won both of their previous matches and needed only a draw to advance at the expense of the mighty Brazilians.
The match started with an unusual piece of commentary – “And Yugoslavia is down to ten men!” People were left wondering how the hell someone can get sent off even before the kick off! Actually, it was not a marching order that had handed a man disadvantage to Yugoslavia.
Striker Rajko Mitic was really pumped before the start of the most important match of Yugoslav history. He was coming out of the dressing room through an underground tunnel to knock the hosts Brazil out of the World Cup. He lifted his head – or may be hopped up a little bit more in excitement –only for an iron girder to knock him out! Mitic was expecting he would have to work his socks off. But instead he was left with a badly gashed head.
It was a large cut and blood was all over. Common sense would have called for a delayed start so that emergency treatment could be provided to the wounded man. But normality evaded referee Banjamin Griffiths from Wales. He was adamant to kick-off the match at the scheduled time, ruling out any chance of a delayed start. Yugoslavia had no chance but to field only 10 men.
The 1950 World Cup was full of controversy, mostly caused by rigid and adamant officials. France pulled out as their request to have their matches scheduled at geographically nearby venues got rejected. Many other teams were forced to play consecutive matches some ridiculous 3,000 km or more apart. India had their plea to play barefoot turned down. Germany and Japan were barred from participation following the aftermath of World War II. But Griffiths probably takes the cake for his stubbornness.
Brazil immediately made their numerical advantage count and took the lead through Ademir de Menezes in the fourth minute. A heavily bandaged Mitic could only start 20 minutes after start of play post receiving treatment. He had missed the opening goal and wasn’t aware of the Brazil’s lead until he was informed of it by his team-mates at halftime. By then Brazil had seized the initiative. Zizinho scored another in the 69th minute and Brazil went ahead from the group. Yugoslavia, the Brazilians of Europe, went back home courtesy of a supercilious and dubious referring decision.
Match: Chile vs Italy
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile, 2nd June, 1962
Chile, the host of 1962 World Cup, was facing Italy in their second match in Group 2. It was a tense affair even before the start of the match. The Latin American country was undergoing a sever crisis – they had to go through the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, the strongest earthquake ever experienced in human history. Chile’s World Cup preparations were disrupted but somehow the tiny nation was gathering itself up for the event. Just then two Italian journalists, Antonio Ghirelli and Corrado Pizzinelli, started continuously highlighting Santiago as an underprivileged dump full of very negotiable women of questionable characters. These Italian articles were severely criticized by local newspapers to inflame the Chilean population.
Chile spurred up the occasion by publicly announcing their disproval of South American–born players playing for Italy through some – sometime remote – family links. Amidst all the controversy, Ghirelli and Pizzinelli had to leave the country before the World Cup fearing for their own safety. A few days before the match, notoriously known, an Argentinian journalist became the victim of mistaken identity. He was beaten up in a bar in Santiago after being assumed to be an Italian. A football match had now become a matter of honour, and the football itself was only a secondary issue in the now infamous “Battle of Santiago”.
The referee for the match was Kenneth Aston from England. He had officiated Chile’s earlier match against Switzerland with aplomb. So FIFA replaced the original referee and named Aston instead for the match between Chile and Italy. Aston himself was not very excited with the decision as he also was under pump owing to the volatile atmosphere surrounding the match.
The Italian team had realized that they were going to be in an amphitheater kind of situation. To calm the atmosphere, the Italian players reached out to all corners of the stadium, packed by 66,057 fans, to hand over bouquets to Chilean women before the start of the match. This did not work – the flowers were furiously thrown back onto the running track in scorn. The sinister atmosphere was duly epitomized by the snowcapped, murky Andes looming large over the stadium.
The high-tension match kicked off and every one literally started to kick each other off. The first foul occurred within 12 seconds of the kick-off. First honor of marching order of the match went to Italy’s Giorgio Ferrini in the 12th minute after a foul on Honorino Landa. But Ferrini refused to leave the pitch and had to be dragged off by the policemen. Landa reacted with a punch few minutes later, but surprisingly, he was not reprimanded.
Aston continued to overlook “specific” blatant off the ball incidents. Chilean Leonel Sánchez punched Italian Mario David in retaliation for being fouled seconds earlier.
None of the assistant referees noticed it either. This incident became the first where FIFA interfered on the basis of video evidence. Sánchez was charged with violent conduct, but played in the rest of Chile’s remaining games. David’s case was rather straightforward – he was not so fortunate to escape his punishment when he kicked Sanchez in the head a few minutes later. He was promptly sent off.
The stadium then simply irrupted. In the subsequent violence, Sanchez broke Argentina-born Italian Humberto Maschio’s nose with a left hook. Aston again failed to act aptly and did not send Sanchez off. The teams got involved in brawls and spurting calling for police intervention three more times. For the records, Chile won the match 2-0 through a looping header from Jaime Ramírez in the 73rd minute and a low shot from Jorge Toro three minutes from time.
Aston later confessed that he felt like standing in front of military maneuvers. Aston, himself being a lieutenant colonel in Asia during the Second World War, was not a an to e bullied. But may be the ferocious nature of the game got better of him. Aston stepped down from officiating any more matches in the World Cup citing Achilles Tendon. He never marshaled in any other World Cup either.
The match highlights were distinctively presented by BBC sports commentator David Coleman: “The most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.”
Match: Wales vs. Hungary
Round: Play-off after group-league
Venue & Date: Råsunda Stadium, Solna, Sweden, 17 June 1958
Sweden hosted the World Cup in 1958. This World Cup saw things that happened only once – an American team winning on European soil (Brazil won, beating the hosts 5-2 in the final for their first win), and the only qualification of all the United Kingdom’s home nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Wales was lucky to qualify, in what remains their only major appearance in a FIFA tournament. They finished second in their group behind Czechoslovakia and lost the chance to qualify. But, unrest in the Middle East saw Israel winning in its group by default because its three opponents, Turkey, Indonesia and Sudan, refused to play. FIFA had imposed a rule that no team would qualify without playing at least one match (unlike past editions) and Israel had to play a second place team in a two-leg playoff. Wales turned out to be that lucky team. They beat Israel over two legs and qualified. Hungary, on the other hand, were defending their runner-up position. But their loss to Germany in the final four years ago had demoralized the team and they had lost a few of their major players like Puskas.
The two teams were placed in the same group along with hosts Sweden and Mexico. In their first encounter, the two teams drew 1-1. Eventually, with one win (against Mexico) and the aforementioned draw, Hungary finished on 3 points. Wales drew all their three matches and finished with 3 points (in that edition, a win meant 2 points, not 3). Since goal difference, head to head record and more number of wins had not yet become criteria for breaking ties, a playoff match decided who would join group champions Sweden in the quarter finals.
The playoff match was not without an off-field drama. The attendance at a play-off match on 17 June 1958 between Wales and Hungary was only 2,823, due to a boycott to show their sympathy to the Hungarian rebellion army leader who had been executed one day before the match. When the match started, Hungary started playing fast and furious football, with strikers Máté Fenyvesi and Dezső Bundzsák storming the Wales citadel. The Welsh goalkeeper was the well-known Arsenal player Jack Kelsey and he came up with some excellent saves. In the 33rd minute, Lajos Tichy, one of the most prolific goal scorers for Hungary, broke free from the man marking he was subjected to by defender Derek Sullivan, and scored a goal. The first half ended with Hungary leading 1-0.
The second half saw the entirely opposite picture. Wales started to attack with Cliff Jones and John Charles (who was then a regular in starting lineup of Juventus and considered to be the greatest Welsh footballer of all time). Finally, in the 55th minute, Ivan Allchurch equalized. Wales began to further push on and in the 76th minute, Terry Midwin scored a brilliant goal after a solo run from the right wing and Wales had the lead. The Hungarians didn’t take this lightly and some bad blood ensured with Soviet referee Latcyhev losing control, which resulted in a red card to defender Ferenc Sipos. Wales created some more scoring chances, but 2-1 remained the final score. One of the biggest upsets of all time had been achieved.
What happened later
Wales met Brazil in the quarter finals at Gothenburg and put up a memorable fight. However, Brazil won by a solitary goal scored by a 17-year old Pele. They went on to win the World Cup
Though Wales lost in the semi finals and haven’t qualified for a World Cup since, despite having some very talented players like Gareth Bale, but that performance of their versus the once mighty Magyars remains a stuff of folklore.