The making and breaking of heroes

Over the line or not? Geoff Hurst (not in picture) scores England's third goal in the 4-2 defeat of West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley. German goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski fails to stop the ball from hitting the underside of the bar and bouncing down in extra-time as England striker Roger Hunt (centre) begins to celebrate.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY Over the line or not? Geoff Hurst (not in picture) scores England's third goal in the 4-2 defeat of West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley. German goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski fails to stop the ball from hitting the underside of the bar and bouncing down in extra-time as England striker Roger Hunt (centre) begins to celebrate.

For the sheer pleasure and excitement it offers, very few sporting events in the world can match the FIFA World Cup. Though it is a fact that not all matches have lived up to their billing in the quadrennial event, there have been quite a few superb, exhilarating games that help define the tournament as one of the greatest spectacles in the world. The veteran football writer Brian Glanville picks his 10 best matches.

1. 1950 Final (Maracana, Rio): Uruguay 2, Brazil 1

Actually, it wasn’t the Final as such, since FIFA’s Madman’s Fly Trap had decided on a so-called final pool of four teams, to be decided on points. Which meant that Brazil, the red-hot favourites, needed only a draw to triumph. It was a game I didn’t see, but have replayed in my mind on good evidence ever since.

Brazil, with the glorious inside forward trio of Zizinho, Ademir and Jair, had scored 13 goals in their previous two games. But their manager Flavio Costa warned that Uruguay had often darkened Brazil’s dreams; so they’d do again. Despite immense initial first half pressure by Brazil, the Uruguayan defence, with Maspoli performing small miracles in goal, Obdulio Varela, a superbly defiant centre back, and captain Rodriguez Andrade, a resilient defender, held out till half-time. Soon afterwards, Friaca gave Brazil the lead, but gradually the tide turned. Inspired by inside left Juan Schiaffino, with right winger Alcides Ghiggia exploiting Brazil’s weakness on left flank defence, Uruguay, with Varela now attacking twice, broke to score spectacular goals. Ghiggia set up an unmarked Schiaffino to equalise and he himself flew through to get the sensational winner. There were heart attacks among the shocked 200,000 crowd.

2. 1958 Final (Rasunda, Solna, Stockholm): Brazil 5, Sweden 2

The apotheosis of the amazing 17-year-old Pele, scorer of two superb goals, having scored three in the semi-final versus a depleted France. Brazil had introduced both 4-2-4 and Pele to the game. Yet, it was Sweden who led with Nils Liedholm picking his way through Brazil’s defence. Sweden’s manager George Raynor had forecast that “Brazil would panic all over the show,” but instead they hit back. Two jaguar-like bursts by Garrincha down the right, two crosses converted by Vava. Brazil dominated the second half with Pele scoring two super goals, one after coolly juggling in the penalty area and the other with a majestic header though he was only 5ft. 8in. “Samba Samba!” Brazil’s fans chorused. 1950 could be forgotten.

3. 1962 Semi-final (Estadio Nacional, Santiago): Brazil 4, Chile 2

“We must have the World Cup because we have nothing,” said a defiant Carlos Dittborn, President of the Chilean Football Federation, after his country had been devastated by earthquakes. The tournament went ahead with Chile reaching the semi-finals, winning en route a savagely combative Santiago game against Italy. Brazil lost Pele, injured early on, but Garrincha, emerging as a superb all-round attacker, made up for his absence. “With Pele or without Pele we shall drink the Nescafe!” read the slogans on Santiago buses. But Garrincha was too much for them even though near the end he was sent off at last, retaliating to rough treatment and hit by a bottle as he went. With Brazil dominant, he scored twice in the first half, a deadly 20-yard left-footer and a leading header at a corner. Toro’s mighty free kick gave Chile hope, but Garrincha’s corner was headed in by Vava, who headed Brazil’s fourth after Leonel Sanchez had scored a penalty for Chile. Surprisingly, Garrincha was amnestied to play in the Final.

4. 1966 Final (Wembley, London): England 4, West Germany 2 after extra time

Was England’s third goal valid? Did Geoff Hurst’s tremendous shot cannon off the German crossbar and cross the line, as the Azerbaijan linesman Bakhramov flagged to Dienst, the referee? Still so hard to know, but England were ahead again. And right at the end, Hurst would score his third goal with a tremendous long range shot to make it 4-2. West Germany had led when Ray Wilson headed straight down to the feet of Helmut Haller. Hurst equalised from a free kick by his impeccable captain Bobby Moore. A third West Ham man Martin Peters put England ahead, 2-1, but breathlessly near the end of normal time Weber scrambled a German equaliser. Ironically, Alf Ramsey’s so-called Wingless Wonders would prevail not least through the prodigies on the right flank of the little red-haired midfielder, Alan Ball.

5. 1966 Quarter-final (Goodison Park, Liverpool): Portugal 5, North Korea 3

They had twice thrashed Australia in a play-off, but little was known of the North Koreans though Middlesbrough’s fans had taken them to their hearts. They had sensationally knocked out Italy 1-0 there and swept into a dramatic, pulsating 3-0 lead in 20 minutes against powerful Portugal. After a cutting right wing move, Pak Seung-Zin drove the Koreans ahead. Their sheer adventurous brio seemed to have stunned the Portuguese and Li Dong-Woon and left winger Yang Seung-Kook made it 3-0. It was only now that the dazzling Eusebio took the game in hand with his glorious long-legged running and pulverising right-footed shot. The Koreans, geared with almost naive commitment to attack, simply couldn’t handle him. On 28 minutes, he raced on to a pass from left winger Simoes for his first goal. When the giant Torres was brought down in the box, Eusebio netted the penalty, picked up the ball and was tearing back into the middle when a Korean stopped and reproached him. A man from Pyongyang confronting one from Mozambique! On the half hour, Eusebio raced through to equalise. A coruscating solo from the left led to his being brought down and scoring the penalty. Augusto would get Portugal’s fifth. The Koreans would retreat into years of isolation.

6. 1970 Semi-final (Azteca Stadium, Mexico City): Italy 4, West Germany 3

“Pallacanestro!” (“Basketball”) jeered an Italian journalist after this cascade of goals. And had not the surging attacking libero Franz Beckenbauer been cynically chopped down and badly hurt on the edge of the Italian box, surely his team might have won. But manager Helmut Schoen had used up his substitutes. There was just one goal in the first half — Roberto Boninsegna exploiting two rebounds to score left-footed for Italy — when Germany looked tired after a hard quarter-final against England. Italy dropped back typically into defence. Continuing their so-called staffetta, or relay policy, they brought on playmaker Gianni Rivera in place of Sandro Mazzola. Exploiting the extra space, Germany pressed and the arrival of attacker Held for defender Patzke proved crucial. Yet, it was only in the third minute of injury time that defender Karl-Heinz Schnellinger swept home the equaliser. But by now, in extra time, Beckenbauer, previously supreme, was playing with an arm strapped to his side. Poletti’s blunder enabled Gerd Muller to score for Germany, defender Tarcisio Burgnich scored for Italy, whose icon, Luigi Riva, put them ahead with his famed left foot. Muller got his 10th goal of the tournament, plunging to equalise, but on 111 minutes, Rivera scored the winner against a weary Germany.

Portugal's Eusebio (left) scores one of his four goals against North Korea in the 1966 World Cup quarter-final at Goodison Park, Liverpool.PortugaldefeatedNorth Korea5-3.-AP

7. 1974 Final (Olympiastadion, Munich): West Germany 2, Holland 1

Holland couldn’t capitalise on their devastating beginning. They had a first minute goal after Johan Cruyff’s astounding solo had ended with Uli Hoeness tripping him and his essential cohort Johan Neeskens scored the penalty. Total Football on both sides, Cruyff for Holland, Franz Beckenbauer for the hosts. Did Holland, mindful of German war guilt, play cat and mouse rather than get more goals? For 25 minutes, they dominated but didn’t score again. So, when overlapping Paul Breitner surged into the box and was tripped by Jansen, he equalised from the spot. Now Germany awoke, though Johnny Rep wasted a marvellous chance fashioned by Cruyff. So on 43 minutes, when Rainer Bonhof roared up the right and crossed, Gerd Muller dragged the ball back with one foot, scored the winner with the other. He would have a further goal ruled out for a dubious offside. Holland had paid for their self-indulgence.

8. 1978 Final (Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires): Argentina 3, Holland 1 after extra time

No Cruyff this time; he had refused to play for Holland in the finals. An ill-tempered, fouls-littered game won by Argentina, who came suddenly and surprisingly to life in extra-time. Omitting the teen-aged Maradona, Argentina, under ‘El Flaco’, the chain-smoking Menotti, made few friends outside their own supporters. They had been favoured by some dubious refereeing and a strange 6-0 surrender by Peru in a decisive second group game, thus eliminating Brazil, in second place. Holland, no innocents, committed 50 fouls in a Final in which home captain Passarella would knock out Johan Neeskens with an elbow, while Gonella was an inept referee. The game turned in the end on a couple of fine saves by Fillol in Argentina’s goal and three super slaloms by Mario Kempes, who, in a previous game versus Poland, had punched off the goal-line with impunity. The Argentine defence did better than expected. On 38 minutes, Kempes roared past Haan to beat goalkeeper Jongbloed with that lethal left foot. Tall sub Dick Nanninga headed Holland’s equaliser; almost on full time Rob Rensenbrink, quite clear, could only hit the Argentine left hand post. A resuscitated Argentina scored twice in extra-time when Kempes made it 2-1 and, with a dynamic burst, Bertoni scored the third.

9. 1982 Second Round Group Match (Estadio Sarria, Barcelona): Italy 3, Brazil 2

The vindication of Paolo Rossi. Suspended for his role in a betting scandal, amnestied from suspension just in time for the Finals, the little centre forward looked rusty at first. But by this game he was in full flight and would end the tournament as top scorer. It was a brilliant Brazilian team, formidable in midfield. Brazil were strong favourites but their defence and attack didn’t match a superb midfield with Falcao — outstanding here — Socrates, Cerezo and Zico, ruthlessly marked by Claudio Gentile, who ripped his shirt off. Italy were ahead in five minutes, Rossi gliding in Cabrini’s ideal cross from the left. Eluding Gentile, Zico set up Socrates for a rocket between goalkeeper Dino Zoff and his near post. Cerezo’s careless pass enabled Rossi to make it 2-1 for Italy. Falcao’s fulminating right-footer equalised for Brazil. But when Tardelli drove a ball back into the Brazilian box, Rossi pounced again for the winner.

10. 1986 Quarter-final (Azteca Stadium, Mexico City): Argentina 2, England 1

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 England man. An Italian reporter opined that England then were 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 defence. Gary Lineker scored from his cross, but just failed to convert another.