World Cup 2022 countdown: Most memorable matches IV - Maradona shines in 1986, France upsets Brazil in 1998

Leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which begins on November 20, this series takes you through 25 memorable matches across the previous 21 editions.

FILE PHOTO: Argentina’s Diego Maradona punches the ball with his left hand to score a controversial first goal against England during the quarterfinal of the 1986 World Cup at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

FILE PHOTO: Argentina’s Diego Maradona punches the ball with his left hand to score a controversial first goal against England during the quarterfinal of the 1986 World Cup at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which begins on November 20, this series takes you through 25 memorable matches across the previous 21 editions.

Leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which begins on November 20, this series takes you through 25 memorable matches across the previous 21 editions.

FIFA World Cup 1986, Quarterfinals (Mexico City) - Argentina 2-1 England

Diego Maradona, villain and hero.

Punching a farcically permitted goal, scored with what he called “The Hand of God.” Scoring a second with a sublime solo, past man after English man. An Italian reporter opined that England then was in a state of shock, like a man who has just had his wallet stolen.

But Maradona would do it again, at the same end of the Azteca Stadium, against Belgium in the semis.

England revived in the second half when John Barnes came on at left wing, stretching Argentina’s defense. Gary Linekar scored from his cross, but just failed to convert another.

FIFA World Cup 1986, Final (Mexico City) - Argentina 3-2 West Germany

Diego Maradona shows the 1986 FIFA World Cup trophy to the then Argentine President Raul Alfonsin at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 3, 1986.

Diego Maradona shows the 1986 FIFA World Cup trophy to the then Argentine President Raul Alfonsin at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 3, 1986. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Diego Maradona, supremely gifted and elusive, had punched a goal against England and scored another with a dynamic solo.

To show that this was no fluke, he scored another such solo masterpiece in the subsequent game against Belgium.

However, in the Azteca final, the German opponents surprisingly fought back from behind. Inspired by Voeller, the German team packed with defenders somehow managed to cancel its two-goal deficit. Rummenigge scored after a corner, another corner enabled Voeller himself to score a stunning equaliser.

But in the 84th minute, Maradona, somewhat below his best on the day, cleverly sent Jorge Burruchaga through for a merited winner.

FIFA World Cup 1994, Round of 16 (Pasadena) - Romania 3-2 Argentina

Romanian Midfielder Ilie Dumitrescu runs over Argentina’s Goalkeeper Luis Islas on a scoring attempt during the Round of 16 World Cup game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on July 4, 1994.

Romanian Midfielder Ilie Dumitrescu runs over Argentina’s Goalkeeper Luis Islas on a scoring attempt during the Round of 16 World Cup game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on July 4, 1994. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

It was the first World Cup where three points were awarded for a win in the group stage instead of two which made it far more exciting than the 1990 edition of the tournament in Italy.

But arguably, the best game of the competition came in the round of 16 in front of over 90,000 fans in the Rose Bowl, Pasadena.

Three days before the fixture, Diego Maradona was expelled from the tournament after testing positive for banned stimulants. 

Ilie Dumitrescu and Gheorghe Hagi provided Romania’s inspiration, the former sealing a move to Tottenham on the strength of his displays at USA ‘94 which included a first-half brace against the South Americans.

FIFA World Cup 1998, Final (Saint-Denis) - France 3-0 Brazil

France’s Zinedine Zidane sports a smile as he holds the FIFA World Cup Trophy after beating Brazil 3-0 in the final at the Stade De France in Saint Denis, North of Paris, France on July 12, 1998.

France’s Zinedine Zidane sports a smile as he holds the FIFA World Cup Trophy after beating Brazil 3-0 in the final at the Stade De France in Saint Denis, North of Paris, France on July 12, 1998. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

France was the host. Brazil was the reigning champion.

France topped Group C while Brazil finished at the top of Group A which meant both could not face each other before the summit clash.

Brazil rode on Ronaldo’s shoulders, looking qualified to defend its title. The burly striker lived up to his top billing ahead of the tournament, leading the attack from the front with four strikes before the final.

Ahead of the summit clash against the host at the Stade de France, he was believed to have suffered a fit, brought on by physical exhaustion and mental stress.

Replaced by Edmundo in the team list ahead of the match, Ronaldo, miraculously, was there in the starting line-up, rumours running amuck about sponsor Nike’s ultimatum to the team management on his selection.

Ronaldo was obviously out of sorts, and Zidane and Emanuel Petit had no problem in giving France its first World Cup title.

FIFA World Cup 2010, Round of 16 (Johannesburg) - Germany 4-1 England

German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer watches the ball bounce over the line from a shot that hit the crossbar from England’s Frank Lampard but referee Jorge Larrionda judges the ball did not cross the line during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match at Free State Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer watches the ball bounce over the line from a shot that hit the crossbar from England’s Frank Lampard but referee Jorge Larrionda judges the ball did not cross the line during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match at Free State Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. | Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Germany’s thrilling strike force shredded old rival England into bits to reach the quarterfinals in a 4-1 win marked by a major blunder from the match officials who ruled out a good goal.

Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski took advantage of some pathetic defending by the Three Lions to put Germany 2-0 up after 32 minutes before Matthew Upson headed one back.

Minutes later, a shot by England’s Frank Lampard went over the goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, hit the bar and bounced behind the goal-line.

However, neither Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda nor his assistants saw the goal, and waved play on.

The sense of injustice burning among England’s legions of passionate fans dimmed, however, when Thomas Mueller scored twice in the second half.

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 Episode 13: David Gower
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