Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Continuing the Trivia theme of World Cup Finals, here are the best five in ascending order…

5... 1986 Argentina 3-2 Germany

With Argentine legend Diego Maradona in the form of his life and pioneering his country's charge towards World Cup glory, and with the final being played in the midday heat of Mexico City on a dreadful pitch, the odds seemed stacked against the Germans from the start. By the time the South Americans had established a comfortable 2-0 lead early in the second half it seemed all over. But one of the golden rules of international football is that Germany are at their most dangerous when you've written them off. Two goals from two corners late in the game brought the Germans level, before the watching world was reminded of another old football adage - you're at your most vulnerable when you've just scored. A minute after Rudi Voller's equalizer, Maradona steered one more defence-splitting pass through to Jorge Burruchaga to notch a late winner and seal the World Cup.

4... 1958 Brazil 5-2 Sweden

For many, Pele is the best footballer of all time, and the two goals he scored in the 1958 Final against Sweden heralded his arrival on the world stage. His second was a superb solo effort that demonstrated his truly rare talent - an innovative football brain combined with the skill to execute. Brazil’s victory against the host nation was expected, but it was achieved in great style with the South American giants coming from a goal down to establish a 4-1 lead with the flamboyant attacking football that has become their trademark. Vava also scored twice in the final, and the disappointment of losing out on home soil in 1950 – a tournament they had been fully expected to win - was forgotten as Brazil landed their first World Cup title.

3... 1966 England 4-2 Germany

A pulsating game marked by high drama, controversy and history. The curse of scoring first in the World Cup Final struck again as the Germans took the lead after 12 minutes only to find themselves 2-1 behind with a minute to go. In the aftermath of a German free kick from outside the box Wolfgang Weber steered the ball home to force extra time. Geoff Hurst – only in the team because of an injury earlier in the tournament to first choice striker Jimmy Greaves - had scored England’s equalizer in the first half of normal time but had done little else. Eleven minutes into extra-time a shot by Hurst bounced down off the underside of the crossbar and landed either on or over the line. The goal was given following the referee’s consultation with his linesman and Hurst went on to add a fourth goal in the last minute, thus creating history as the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final.

2... 1954 Germany 3-2 Hungary

Not the most popular result as football purists wanted to see this terrific Hungarian side conquer the world. Not many gave Germany a prayer before the final; the sides had met in the group stages and Hungary had won 8-3. When the “magical Magyars” stormed into a 2-0 lead after only after eight minutes another thrashing appeared to be on the cards. Heavy rain was falling though, and the Germans appeared better suited to the adverse conditions as they quickly adapted and had levelled the match by the 18th minute with goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn. Four goals in the first eighteen minutes of any professional football match is highly dramatic – and this was the World Cup Final. In a thrilling second half the Hungarians strove to regain the lead and Germany had goalkeeper Toni Turek to thank for several fine saves. In the 84th minute and against the run of play Rahn scored a third goal for Germany, and although Hungary’s star player Puskas had the ball in the net in the dying moments it was ruled out for offside, and Germany won the World Cup for the first time.

1... 1970 Brazil 4-1 Italy

The most memorable final of all for the neutral. The classic confrontation of Italian defence against Brazilian flair and the beautiful game won hands down. Brazil destroyed Italy, showing flashes of some of the finest football ever played. With the scores level at 1-1 at half-time, the Samba Stars turned on the style in the Azteca Stadium and unravelled the tightly woven Italian defence with a dazzling display. The culmination was the magnificent fourth goal, a move that involved eight members of the Brazilian team, each seeming to give an exhibition of personal skill before moving the ball on. Memories of Pele’s nonchalant final pass out to Carlos Alberto on the right side of the penalty area will live forever and a day. Alberto rounded off the flawless move with the perfect finish to complete what, in the view of many, is the greatest goal ever scored. Brazil had their hands on the World Cup for a third time, and as a result were given the Jules Rimet trophy for keeps. Few would argue that this triumphant Brazilian team was the best in the history of football.

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