100 Most Memorable World Cup Moments (30-21)

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 eighth installment: Moments 30 – 21.

Match: Brazil vs. Czechoslovakia
Round: Quarter-final
Venue & Date: Parc Lescure, Bordeaux, France, 12th June, 1938


Brazil faced Czechoslovakia in the quarter-final match of 1938 World Cup. Brazil defeated Poland 6-5 in the previous round, while Czechs got the better of The Netherlands by 3-0. Brazil had a great attacking line with Leonidas being the leader. An earlier segment of our countdown series had already covered the goal scoring abilities of Leonidas in 1938 World Cup.
This match was the first match played at the Parc Lescure Sadium at Bordeaux. Czech had the first chance of the match but Brazil retaliated soon after with a floating ball towards Czech goal. Three Brazilian players charged aggressively towards the Czech goalkeeper Frantisek Planicka who somehow managed to prevent the ball from entering into the goal. The manner in which Brazilians attacked the goalkeeper Planicka was not particularly allowed. Then onward, the match deteriorated to a series of fouls and ill-tempered challenges. On 14th minute Zeze Procopio of Brazil brutally charged Czech forward Oldrich Nejedly, and was immediately sent off by Hungarian referee Pal Von Hertzka.
Brazil defence was playing solid and whenever Nejedly got forward, at least two people were surrounding him. Brazil took the lead on 30th minute with Leonidas receiving a pass from the left side, entering in the penalty area, and after one false move, placed the ball inside the goal on goalkeeper’s right side. Leonidas was injured towards the end of the first half inside Czech penalty area. Just before the halftime, a scuffle broke off outside Brazil’s penalty area with Brazil defenders pushing and shoving Czechoslovakia’s Riha, and indicating towards the referee that Riha thumped his boot towards the Brazilian players intentionally. By this time referee Hertzka had completely lost control over the game, and along with Riha, he also gave marching orders to Brazil’s Machado. Brazil now got reduced to nine men despite leading 1-0 at the half time.
Czechoslovakia started with obvious numerical advantage in the second half but still found it difficult to crack the Brazilian defence. Czechs were awarded a penalty on 65th minute from an apparent handball by a Brazilian defender. Oldrich Nejedly converted the penalty with a grounder and Czechs were on level terms. Domingos da Guia was playing with a bandaged head in Brazil’s defence, and a fierce challenge led by him caused a broken leg for Czech scorerOldrich Nejedly. As no substitution was allowed in those days, Nejedly had to leave the field and both the teams were reduced to nine men. Planicka, the Czech keeper and skipper, broke his arm while trying to clear the ball from a Brazilian attack towards the end of the match. He showed enormous courage to play the match along with added extra time with a broken arm, in what would be his last of the 73 internationals for Czechoslovakia.
Czech started the added extra time with more vigour forcing Brazilian keeper Walter Goulart to make a few diving saves. Leonidas could not convert a cross from the left side for Brazil, as nine men on each side left a lot of open space in the field. Both the teams were visibly exhausted and no goals were scored in the extra time of the match.
The match was to be replayed two days later with Brazil bringing in nine new players and Czechoslovakia brought six new men. Leonidas recovered from his injury to lead Brazil this time to a 2-1 victory, scoring the first Brazilian goal in 57th minute. The brutal ugly nature of the first match between these two countries etched this encounter in memorable world cup moments, and infamously termed as “Battle of Bordeux”.
The toll of these two matches were too much to take for Brazil as they had to rest Leonidas in the semi-final against Italy, and lost 1-2 to bow out of the World Cup.

Match: England vs. West Germany
Round: Final
Venue & Date: Wembley Stadium, London, England, 30th July, 1966


The World Cup final of 1966 is the only final till date which was played in the last week of July. West Germany faced host England in the final in a mouth-watering clash. England faced off challenges from Argentina in the quarter-final, and defeated dangerous Portugal 2-1 in the semi-final. West Germany emerged from a tough group that contained Argentina and Spain. They defeated Uruguay 4-0 in the quarter-final and got the better of Soviet Union in the semi-final by 2-1.
The final was England’s sixth game in the Wembley Stadium in 1966 World Cup, only such incident in the history of World Cup where all the matches by the host team being played in the same stadium (4 or more number of matches).
English defence led by Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore looked formidable in the tournament with Gordon Banks as keeper. They did not concede a single goal from open play in the tournament coming to the final, and conceded the only goal in five matches via penalty in semi-final against Portugal. Geoff Hurst made his international debut only four months before the World Cup against West Germany. But before World Cup, his mediocre performances in warm-up games saw him out of the England squad, and he was not included in the main English squad for World Cup. Due to an injury suffered by Jimmy Greaves in the group stage game against France, Hurst was called up to partner Roger Hunt in the forward line against Argentina in the quarter-final.
In final, West Germany took the lead on 12th minute via Helmut Haller. England restored parity on 18th minute via Hurst. The match went into the second half 1-1 with both teams dishing out tactical display. On 78th minute, Hurst took a shot towards the goal after receiving the ball from a corner by Allan Ball. The ball found Martin Peters near the goal, who slotted in to make it 2-1 for England. The host was en route to their first World Cup victory, when Wolfgang Weber tapped in from close range to make it 2-2 for the Germans in the 89th minute and the match went into extra time. Gordon Banks claimed that when the ball was bounced towards Weber, it struck the hand of Karl-Heinz Schnellinger.
Hurst probably scored the most controversial goal ever in World Cup history in the extra time. Allan Ball overlapped through the right wing and passed the ball inside penalty area. Hurst received the ball just outside six-yard-box with Schnellinger behind him. With a swift first touch of his right foot, he brought the ball in front of him, and then took a volley which defeated German keeper Hans Tilkowski, hit the crossbar and dropped on the line. Wolfgang Weber was running towards the goal and he headed the bouncing ball from goalline out for corner. Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst rushed towards the linesman Tofik Bakhramov from USSR who was closest to the goal. Only there was one problem, Swiss referee did not know Russian language and vice versa. After non-verbal communication between the two, Dienst understood that Bakhramov was of the opinion that the ball crossed the line, and awarded the goal to England. The home crowd erupted in joy as the Germans looked confused.
This “goal” became subject of research in institutes like Imperial College London and Oxford University. Scientists have shown through computer simulations and visual information processing, that the ball needed to have travelled 1-2 inch more to cross the goalline, thus it was never a goal. An amateur filmmaker, who was present at the stand almost parallel to West German goal, took a shot which later clearly showed that the ball had never crossed the goal line completely.
Linesman Bakhramov gave an interesting account of his judgement on the event. He mentioned that according to him the ball hit the inner side of the net and not the crossbar, before bouncing on the goalline, so it was a clear goal. Some conspiracy theories, without evidence, evolved suggesting that Bakhramov took revenge of his country USSR’s defeat in the hand of West Germany in the semi-final of that World Cup.
Geoff Hurst scored another goal in the last minute of the match as the whole German team went forward in search of equaliser, thus to complete the only hat-trick of the World Cup final till date, and England won the match 4-2 to lift the World Cup for first and only time till date. The legend of the controversial goal by Geoff Hurst traveled through time and generations. In 2010, Frank Lampard’s clear goal against Germany was disallowed in the second round match-up, and the controversy of Geoff Hurst‘s goal could only be paralleled by this incident which will be covered in one of our future segment of this countdown series.

Match: Scotland vs Holland
Round: Group stage
Venue & Date: Estadio Ciudad de Mendoza, Mendoza, Argentina, 11th June, 1978


Scotland faced The Netherlands in the final group match of Group 4 in 1978 World Cup. The Dutch had three points from two games (2 points for win and 1 point for draw in those days) with a goal difference of +3 coming into the last game while Scotland had only 1 point and -2 goal difference. Scotland desperately needed a win, and need to win by 3-goal margin to qualify for the next round.
The Dutch team was passing through a golden period, and though they did not have too many trophies to show for it, their style of football attracted applause from every corner in the world.
Scottish team had a few stars of their own as well, including Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Archibald Gemmill. The Scots started the match with a sense of urgency of scoring goals, and Bruce Rioch hit the woodwork from a header in earlier minutes, before Dalglish shoot wide from close ranges. Dalglish missed another chance when his lobbed shot went just outside the post. The Dutch responded with a long ranger from Johan Neeskens. The Dutch took the lead via a Rob Rensenbrink penalty on 34th minute after Johny Rep was fouled inside the box.
Scotland needed to score four goals now to qualify and they bounced back before halftime. Joe Jordan headed down an Asa Hartford cross towards goalmouth and Dalglish scored from close range to go to the halftime at 1-1.
Archibald Gemmill, who would be the main topic of discussion in this “World Cup moment” appeared in action from the beginning of the second half. Captain Ruud Krol brought down Souness in front of the Dutch goal in 47th minute and Archi Gemmill converted the penalty to make it 2-1 for Holland. Archie Gemmill was a midfield stalwart in Derby County in their golden period in 70s. He played in Derby for 7 seasons winning two league championships for them when Derby was a premier force in England. He scored one of the most memorable goals in World Cup history on 68th minute of this match to make it 3-1 for Scotland and take them within one goal of qualification.
Captain Stuart Kennedy passed the ball to Kenny Dalglish towards the right corner of the field where Dalglish, after receiving the ball, tried to go past Dutch defenders Ruud Krol, Jan Poortvliet and Wim Jansen. Krol managed to clear the ball only to Gemmill, who was patiently waiting near the touchline.
As soon as he received the ball, he sprung into action, first going past Jansen and then dodged past an onrushing Krul outside penalty area. There were a host of Dutch defenders towards his left, and Poortvliet charged towards Gemmill. By this time Dalglish also came towards the ball, and in the milieu, Gemmill dodged past both Poortvliet and Dalglish to enter inside the penalty area. Sensing danger, medio Rene van de Kerkhof was rushing towards Gemmill but by that time Gemmill got the sniff of goal. He kept his calm and placed the ball past Dutch keeper Jongbloed with his left foot. Gemmill celebrated briefly on the way towards going back to the centre line, as Scotland needed one more goal without reply to qualify.
Unfortunately, the heroics of Gemmill would go in vain as Johnny Rep reduced the margin to 2-3 with a long range shot in the 72nd minute. Scotland needed two more goals again and the Dutch did not allow any more goals. Archibald Gemmill’s goal took place in World Cup’s memorable moments, but Scotland failed to take place in the next round of the World Cup and bowed out of the tournament. The Dutch went on to play the final of 1978 World Cup, only to lose to host Argentina 1-3, and becoming runners up in successive tournaments.

Match: Northern Ireland vs Brazil
Round: Group Stage
Venue and Date: Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara, 12th June, 1986


In 1986 World Cup, Northern Ireland faced the almighty Brazil in their last group match. Everything so far was as per the script. Northern Ireland could be a bit disappointed having failed to defeat Algeria in their group opener but put up a brave show in a narrow defeat to Spain in their next match. Brazil, the perennial favourites, had won their first two matches, albeit by a single goal margin.
Brazil, the spiritual homeland of the beautiful game, has produced so many great players that it sometimes become very difficult to break into national recognition. 24-year-old, the tall, sinewy, stunningly athletic right-back, Josimar Higino Pereira, better known as Josimar, might have thought he would never got a chance when luck smiled on him. First choice right-back, Edson, got injured and Josimar was handed his international debut against Northern Ireland.
In front of 50,000 odd spectators, Josimar just lit up the stage in the 42nd minute. Brazil was leading by one goal thanks to Careca but were finding it tough to break down a robust Irish defence. All their dribbling were restricted to the edge of the box. This is when Josimar received a ball some 40 yards away from goal and started his determined run. The Irish were not really pushing out rather crowding around their penalty box and hence there was no pressure as such. Josimar held everyone by surprise when he struck a fierce “Thor-like” shot 25 yards from goal under the outstretched leg of a defender. It simply arced upwards to the left and entered the goal just below the crossbar and just inside the post.
Experienced Northern Irish keeper, Pat Jennings, playing his last match, stood awestruck. He could not decide what was more surprising – that someone even tried a shot so much far from, or such a ferocious shot can be struck. It was a goal, the most brutally struck powerful goal in World Cup history, which, by the way, happened to be Josimar’s debut goal in his debut match.
He scored another wonder goal in the next game against Poland to make it to the official team of the year. In fact Josimar had two stunners in his first two appearances. That too being a player designated to marshal his defence. that too not being the first choice player. Truly, a star was born.

Match: Turkey vs. South Korea
Round: 3rd place play-off match
Venue & date: Daegu World Cup Stadium, Daegu, South Korea, 29th June, 2002


The third Place match up of any World Cup tournament is considered most inconsequential match in the whole tournament. Both the teams missed the bus for final, and are generally pretty much dejected due to their loss. No one generally remember the third placed team, so there is not a lot of pride that goes into this match. But historically, all the third place match ups generally produced a great number of goals and open football, as both the competing teams have nothing to lose.
The scenario on 2002 was a bit different. Turkey lost to Brazil 0-1 and Germany defeated South Korea by the same margin. No one expected Germany and Brazil to lose in the semi-final, so the third place match up between Turkey and South Korea became a matter of pride for both the teams. South Korea was having a dream run in the tournament, defeating Portugal, Italy and Spain in the same tournament, albeit amidst controversial situations.
The “world cup moment” of the match actually came right at the beginning of the match, only after 11 seconds to be precise. South Korea kicked off the match with Lee Chun Soo passing the ball to Yoo Sang Chul near the right-back position who gently stroked the ball to captain and centre back Hong Myung Bo who was positioned just outside the centre of the penalty area. When Myung Bo was receiving the ball, he was facing towards the goalkeeper and did not realise that both Ilhan Mansiz and Hakan Sukur were tracking down the ball. Myung Bo failed to trap the pass from Sang Chul cleanly, and the wobbling ball was immediately contested by Ilhan Mansiz. Mansiz managed to deflect the ball towards onrushing Hakan Sukur, who dribbled past Myung Bo and entered the penalty area. Sang Chul sensed danger and was desperately running towards the penalty area. Goalkeeper Lee Woon Jae also left goalline by the time and was advancing towards Sukur. Galatasaray legend and 112-times national cap winner Hakan Sukur did not miss this golden opportunity and calmly placed the ball on the right side of the advancing goalkeeper into the net. The clock read only 11 seconds (10.89 seconds if one is too perfectionist) when the score was 1-0 in favour of Turkey. This was and still is the fastest goal ever scored in the final round of a World Crup, breaking the previous record by former Czechoslovakia’s Vaclav Masek in an opening round game against Mexico in the 1962 finals in Chile.
Turkey went on to win the match 3-2 with 2 goals from Ilhan Mansiz, and secured third place in the match. Hakan Sukur etched his name in history with the fastest goal in World Cup finals. Brazil 2014 awaits a new name in that record.

Match: England vs. USA
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg, South Africa, 12th June, 2010


In an earlier segment of this countdown series, we have covered THE “upset” of World Cup history-USA defeating England 1-0 in the 1950 edition. 60 years later, the same two nations faced off each other at the World Cup group stage, in the opening match of Group C. England always boast of a strong team but do not exactly produce the result that lives up to the media hype which creates a false expectation among their countrymen.
A team boasting of Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, John Terry and other Barclays Premier League stars looked solid and strong “on paper”. Skipper Steven Gerrard was hopeful about England’s chances in the WorldC up. USA, on the other hand was no pushover, with Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard in their line up.
The match started in a whirlwind fashion for England, as captain Gerrard put the Englishmen forward within four minutes of the match. England continued to attack and US was lucky to be just behind 0-1 after initial 20 minutes of the match. The world cup moment arrived in the 40th minute of the match. England was still leading 1-0. Clint Dempsey, who was playing his club football in EPL club Fulham at that time, was advancing towards English goal and was confronted by Gerrard about 10 yards outside penalty area. He tried to dodge past Gerrard, and after couple of back and forth steps, Dempsey got some space in front of Gerrard, and decided to take an attempt to the goal. His left-footed grounder went past Ledley King and took two-three bounce before reaching goalkeeper Rob Green. It was to be a routine collection for the goalkeeper and English defenders was preparing to launch another attack. When Green was about to collect the ball in kneel-down position, his right hand was too close to his knee. The ball brushed the side of his hand, and reflected of the knee and slowly rolled inside the goal line into the back of the net. Robert Green made a desperate last attempt to catch the ball, but it was too late by then. Coach Fabio Capello was shocked in the sideline. The whole England team could not believe what just happened.
The media termed it as “Hand of Cold”. Robert Green apologized to his teammates after the goal, putting up his hand up in the air. Both the teams missed chances in the second half and the match ended 1-1. England replaced Green in the next game with David James. These two lost points against USA came back to haunt England as USA became group champion and faced Ghana in the next round , while England came runners up in the group ahead of Algeria and Slovenia, and faced Germany in the second round. England lost 1-4 to Germany and bowed out of the World Cup.
This incident sidelined Green from English national squad for two years, only to return in a friendly match against Norway ahead of Euro 2012.

Match: West Germany vs. Argentina
Round: Final
Venue & Date: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy, 8th July, 1990


It was the first such occasion when the same set of finalists were playing in two consecutive World Cup Finals. Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 in the Final of Mexico ’86, and these two countries faced off again in the Final of Italia ’90. Argentina knocked out Italy and West Germany got the better of England in the semi-finals. Argentina did not have a great team but under the leadership of Diego Maradona, and penalty saving ability of Sergio Goycochea, they had valiantly cleared one obstacle after another en route to the Final.
West Germany had a great team, with the likes of Lothar Matthäus, Juergen Klinsmann, Andreas Brehme, Thomas Haessler and Rudi Völler in their ranks. The whole of Italy was still recovering from their shock defeat in the hands of the Argentines, and wanted West Germans to win. Diego Maradona’s Argentina received a lot of flack during the national anthem, and Diego Maradona also reacted back with a lot of expletives towards the crowd.
The match started in hostile fashion with Germans pouring numerous attacks towards the Argentine goal. Haessler, Matthäus were taking long range shots at the goal and missed the target narrowly several times. At half time, the match remained at 0-0, but a West German goal seemed imminent.
Pedro Monzon replaced Oscar Ruggeri at the beginning of the second half for Argentina. In 65th minute, Klinsmann received a ball near the right wing outside the penalty area and was advancing towards the corner to release a cross. Monzon was tracking down Klinsmann and made a sideways tackle at the ball. Monzon’s leg missed both the ball and Klinsmann’s leg. However, Klinsmann did not miss the chance to do some play-acting, and did an extravagant dive with a little gymnast-like acrobat push with both legs. The stunt was good enough for Mexican referee Edgardo Codesal Mendez to show a red card to Monzon. Pedro Monzon thus became the first player to receive a red card in a World Cup Final. Nevertheless, Argentina stood firm in defence and Goycochea kept making saves to keep the score sheet blank.
Codesal came to the rescue of the West Germans in the final minutes of the match. In the 84th minute, Matthäus was advancing down the pitch with Jose Basualdo and Pedro Troglio running with him. Matthäus saw Rudi Völler making a run inside the penalty area and released a through-pass towards Völler. Roberto Sensini intercepted the pass, and cleared the ball in front of Rudi Völler. Völler did not miss the chance of taking false advantage again, and took a dive inside the penalty area. Codesal was at least 15 yards away from the incident and he could only have seen the backside of the players.
As soon as Völler fell down, Codesal ran towards the penalty spot and without so much as a glance at the linesman awarded a penalty to West Germany. He literally shoved off the Argentine protest with shoulder push, and collected the ball himself from the goal line to place in the penalty spot. It appeared that Codesal was more eager for a German victory than the Germans themselves! Andreas Brehme stepped up to take the penalty instead of Matthäus. Matthäus generally took his shots towards the left of the goalkeeper, and Goycochea had saved all the penalties towards his left in the World Cup. Goycochea guessed correctly – Brehme took the shot towards the right bottom corner. It was a grounder from Brehme and Goycochea had almost saved it. West Germany took the lead 1-0, yet Codesal was not done for the match. He showed another red card in the 87th minute to Dezotti for snatching a ball away, thus making sure 9-man-Argentina did not even have a chance at equalising the match. A weeping Maradona after the match became the symbol of the Final match in years to come.
West German coach Franz Beckenbauer admitted that they wanted to win, but did not want to win in such controversial fashion via a disputed penalty. Awarding penalties had become a habit for referee Codesal during Italia 90. He had officiated in the Italy vs USA Group A match and had awarded a penalty. He had awarded 3 penalties in the England vs Cameroon quarter-final match.
FIFA prevented Codesal from officiating in any further matches and he was forced to retire soon after the 1990 World Cup.

Match: North Korea vs. Italy
Round: Group stage
Venue & Date: Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough, England, 19th July, 1966


North Korea’s march towards quarter-final and a famous quarter-final match-up with Eusebio’s Portugal had already been covered in an earlier segment of this countdown series. Today’s moment will highlight the famous match between Italy and North Korea at the group stage, by virtue of which North Koreans progressed towards the quarter-final.
North Korea already faced a number of obstacles during the World Cup, and had to play matches without playing the national anthem. They were placed in the same group with Soviet Union, Chile and Italy. No one expected anything from them but to just fill up the number in the group. Soviet Union defeated North Korea 3-0, while Italy got better of Chile 2-0. In the next set of matches, Soviet Union defeated Italy 1-0, but North Korea drew with Chile 1-1 with Park Seung-Zin scoring the equaliser in 88th minute. This goal actually kept North Korea alive in the tournament. North Korea needed to defeat Italy, to have any chance of qualification to the next round, which was an almost impossible task.
Italians were attacking right from the start. Chang Myung-Lee made a brilliant save to deny a Mario Perani close ranger from going into the net. Spartaco Landini failed to score a few minutes later when his tap in one-on-one with the keeper went outside of the post. Bong Zin-Haan tried a long range shot from the midfield which was way wide of the goal. Myung-Lee denied Perani again when he saved a shot from the Italian forward diving to his left.
An Italian lead was just matter of minutes when disaster struck for the Azzuris on 41st minute. Yoon Kyung Oh lobbed a ball towards Italian penalty area from the midfield. Seoung Kook-Yang was about to receive the ball when defender Francesco Janich cleared the ball. The ball went only to midfield which was again headed towards the penalty area by Zong-Sun Lim. Defensive midfielder Pak Doo-Ik was continuing his run towards the penalty area. The header from Lim bounced awkwardly in front of the penalty area and went past two advancing Italian defender who failed to judge the bounce of the ball. Suddenly Doo-Ik was alone inside the penalty box with goalkeeper Enrico Albertosi advancing towards him. Doo-Ik kept his cool and placed the ball inside the far post with a diagonal grounder. North Korea 1-0 Italy.
Italy came out all guns blazing in the second half, with Barison and Rivera missing two chances from outside the area. Goalkeeper Myung-Lee was having game of his life, as his presence under the cross-bar was monumental. His flying saves in both left and right side denied Italy an equaliser. Barison came close to scoring in the final minutes but his left footed shot just hit outside of the right post. Pak Doo-Ik and Kook-Yang almost increased the tally for the Koreans as well, on the other side of the pitch. Italian defence cleared the ball clumsily under both occasion.
Italians failed to find an equaliser, and with Soviet Union defeating Chile in the other match, North Korea qualified for the quarter-final of 1966. They became first ever Asian nation to progress towards the last 8 of any world cup. North Koreans became very popular in the Middlesbrough, and received a lot of support from the local residents.
In 2002, seven surviving members of that famous North Korean squad of 1966, was invited to Middlesbrough. Suzannah Clarke, who would become the first British opera singer to perform in North Korea, welcomed the heroes back with a song in Korean language.
Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough is now turned into a housing estate. But there is a bronze cast of the football boot displayed on a lawn inside the estate known as Turnstile. The bronze cast is placed in exactly at the same place from where Pak Doo-Ik scored the goal, a little left side of the penalty spot in the Holgate End of the ground.
Pak Doo-Ik mentioned that he realised how football can promote peace and improve diplomatic relationship after their win against Italy. Many of the members of that North Korean team are resting in peace today, but their folklore win against Italy will remain omnipresent in the streets of Middlesbrough, for years to come.

Match: Uruguay vs. Brazil
Round: Last match of Final round-robin league (unofficial final)
Venue & Date: Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 16th July 1950


1950 was the first World Cup after World War II, which prevented the previous two editions in ’42 and ’46 from taking place. 1950 was the first World Cup (and the only one till date) which had no official final. The world was still coming to normal terms after the World War, and several countries withdrew from the tournament. Germany and Japan were banned, and France and India withdrew even after qualifying for the final stage of the cup. A total of 13 teams actually took part in the final event, and only 22 matches were played. The format did not have any final, as the four group winners from the first phase, Brazil, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay advanced to the final round-robin league stage, the winner of which were to be crowned World Champions.
Host Brazil was in great form during the tournament, scoring 21 goals in 5 matches prior to their last match against Uruguay. Brazil defeated Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1, while Uruguay drew 2-2 with Spain before narrowly defeating Sweden 3-2. Brazil needed only to avoid defeat to become champions whereas Uruguay needed a clear-cut victory over Brazil.
The whole of Brazil actually started celebrating their first World Cup win even days before the match. On the 16th of July, the whole city of Rio de Janeiro came alive with various activities on the streets, including an improvised carnival. Chants like “Brazil must win” filled the air. Brazilian news paper “O Mundo” published pictures of the Brazilian team captioning them as World Champions. Half a million tee shirts with the inscription “Brazil Campeon” were sold. Limousines, gold watches, parties had been arranged for the players. FIFA president Jules Rimet even had a speech prepared in Portuguese to congratulate Brazil on winning the World Cup. 173,830 fans flocked Maracanã from the start of the day. At the time of the kick off around 3 p.m. local time, more than 200,000 people were inside the stadium (which, till date stands as a record). The whole Brazil was waiting for a mere formality to start with the wild celebrations.
Uruguay noticed all these. Uruguay captain Obdulio Varela gave an emotional speech to his teammates before the match, citing the taken-for-granted nature of the whole Brazilian nation about the outcome of the match. He shunned the defensive strategy laid out by their coach Juan Lopez and urged his teammates to show some courage.
Yet, when the match started, Brazil attacked heavily and Penarol goalkeeper Roque Maspoli was making save after save, and the 0-0 score line was hanging in the balance. Uruguay was hardly able to attack, but they did not concede either, and unlike Spain and Sweden, they managed to take the match to the second half at 0-0.
Brazil was still going to be champion if the match finished 0-0 as all Brazil needed was a draw. To make it even more lopsided, Brazil scored at the beginning of the 2nd half. Friaca scored with a diagonal grounder beating the goalkeeper to his right from inside the penalty area after receiving a pass from Ademir, who drew at least three defenders away with him every time he touched the ball in the match. Brazil was now leading 1-0 and was hungry for more. Flavio Costa, the coach asked his players through Jair de Costa to play defensively. But the instructions did not reach the players, and Brazil continued to attack.
Skipper Varela instructed his players to attack as well since they had nothing to lose. Ghiggia overlapped frequently through the right wing and Brazilian left half Bigode had a hard time keeping pace with him. On 66th minute, Ghiggia dodged past Bigode in the right wing and sent a low cross inside the penalty area. Juan Schiaffino took a volley on the ball, avoiding a tackle from left back Juvenal. The ball went past a diving Moacir Barbosa and bulged the Brazilian net.
200,000 people inside the stadium went silent. The fire crackers, jubilations stopped. Though Uruguay needed one more goal, the fans sensed danger. Uruguay sensed victory. They were pouring men forward, and certainly Brazilian defence looked vulnerable.
Alcides Ghiggia continued to give trouble to Bigode and Juvenal on the left side of the pitch. In one such move on 79th minute, Ghiggia got past Bigode and ran down the right flank. Brazil’s defence expected another cross in the penalty area and left Ghiggia unmarked. Ghiggia ran down the pitch, entered the penalty area unchallenged, and with a low grounded shot, he beat Barbosa at the near post to make it 2-1 for Uruguay.
It was an improbable score line for the whole Brazil. It was an improbable score line for the whole world. When the referee blew the final whistle after 11 more minutes, the whole country was in shock. Uruguayan players were in shock as well – finding it difficult to let in the ecstasy of the impossible victory that they had achieved. Players embraced each other in the pitch. Coach Juan Lopez embraced players in the pitch. Jules Rimet alone called Varela in the field and handed the trophy out as no other organisers or members of Brazilian football federation were seen inside the ground. 22 gold medals with names of Brazilian players had to be disposed of. Many fans committed suicide after the match. Some newspapers refused to publish the reports of the Uruguay victory.
It was a monumental blow, famously known as “Maracanazo” or “The Maracana blow”. Uruguay won the World Cup for the second time, and the Brazil players all sank into oblivion after that match. This is indeed one of the most memorable moments in World Cup history.

Match: Italy vs. Austria
Round: Semi-final
Venue & Date: Stadio San Siro, Milan, Italy, 3rd June, 1934


Italy faced Austria in the semi-final of the 1934 World Cup. The political situations around the world were not normal at that time, with the world boiling over with many radical movements under various powerful leaders in Europe. Austria had been well supported by Italy at a time when their national independence was under threat from superpowers like Germany.
On the football field, these two nations were bitter rivals. Austrian team of early 1930s were named as the “Wunderteam”. Jimmy Hogan had introduced British style football of pass and run, and the players had great physical stamina. They swept aside almost all European powerhouses during the early part of the decade, including a 4-2 win over Italy in the final of Central European Championships. This team had scored nearly 100 goals in 30 matches in three years prior to the World Cup. In the 1934 World Cup, Austria defeated France 3-2 and Hungary 2-1, en route to the semi-final. Although their Wunderteam was past its prime by ’34, but they were still considered as favourites to win the World Cup. Italy had won their first round match against USA easily by 7-1, but they needed a rematch to get past Spain.
Italy started the match with their slick passing, but Austrians introduced their physical nature of the game very soon. Matthias Sindelar had an excellent chance around the 10th minute of the match when his shot went wide of the Italian goal. Italy responded back with a quick counter attack and Luigi Bertolini’s shot was saved by the Austrian goalkeeper Peter Platzer. Giuseppe Meazza’s left footer just missed the post by a few inches, and Platzer had to make another diving save to deny a Angelo Schiavio volley from going in. The wunderteam was not displaying any wonder football, and Italy’s dominance was slowly becoming evident. Austria made one attempt to go forward and Karl Zischek’s cross bounced over the crossbar and went out.
Italy took the lead in the 19th minute among chaotic circumstances. A shot from Bertolini from outside the penalty box reached Platzer. Platzer failed to collect the ball cleanly, and an onrushing Meazza rushed onto Platzer and collided with him. The ball was knocked loose from Platzer’s grasp, and rolled on to touch the side post. Enrique Guaita was running towards the goalmouth milieu, and he tapped the ball in across the goalline into the goal. Austrians were expecting a foul for Meazza’s charge on their goalkeeper, but the Swedish referee Ivan Eklind pointed towards the center to award the goal to Italy. The 60,000 strong partisan crowds inside San Siro went wild as Italy took the lead over Austria.
Being a goal down, the Austrians kept Italian goalkeeper and skipper Giampiero Combi busy for the rest of the match. Austrians attacked heavily, and combined with their physical nature meant that the Italians were having difficult time to contain them. The game got increasingly physical in the second half, which suited the Italians better. Eraldo Monzeglio and Luigi Allemandi were making rough tackles in the Italian defence, and several Austrian players were seen limping on the ground. Meazza again crashed onto Platzer deliberately after he collected a cross, and a mini scuffle broke on the pitch. A photographer had to rush to the rescue of the Austrian keeper from the sideline. The condition of the pitch was also very bad, which prevented the Austrians from playing their passing game. Meazza himself got injured for once again trying to outmuscle others inside the box while trying to connect to a high ball.
Final few minutes of the match did not see much action as both the teams were tired. The crowd were jubilant after the final whistle, but not much celebration was observed from the players. Italy went on to win the World Cup beating Czechoslovakia in the final, and Austrian wunderteam returned empty-handed from the World Cup, after dominating the continent for the past four years.

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