Austria 7 (5) Switzerland 5 (4)
The match between Austria and Switzerland made
up in entertainment value for what it lost in technique.
A professional team should not lose from a three-nil
lead , which was the situation after twenty-three
minutes. Conceding five goals in ten minutes tells
a story of panic, although scoring one back shows
a sign of some fighting spirit. Thus at half-time
the score was 5-4 to Austria, with a missed penalty
making the margin finer than it should have been.
The second half could not hope to live up to this
even though there were to be three more goals. The
seven-five win for Austria proving both elevating
and enervating as the subsequent semi-final was
West Germany 6 (1) Austria 1 (0)
West Germany took on an Austrian team reeling from
their incredible quarterfinal against the hosts.
The Austrians understandably changed their goalkeeper
from one who had conceded five; yet his replacement,
Walter Zeman, had previously been dropped because
he was out of sorts. A nervous defence, an off-form
goalkeeper who then proceeded to prove he was off-form
by a series of disastrous misses set the stage for
a calamitous 6-1 defeat for a team that would ordinarily
have been expected to beat West Germany. The devil
really had the best tunes, as this stroke of luck
could be considered a reward for the questionable
tactics earlier in the tournament of the West German
Hungary 4 (1) Uruguay 2 (1) after extra time.
The other semi-final should have been the final.
Hungary, far and away the best team in the world
verses the two times and defending champions - Uruguay.
Supremely fit Hungary, far and away the most exhilarating
team on earth verses a skilful traditional side
who had two deep central defenders and two attacking
fullbacks. Puskas, injured by brutal West German
tackling in the first round games, was still unavailable
to the Hungarians; however, Uruguay’s captain Varela
was also out, hurt in the quarterfinal win against
England, thus there was a parity of sorts in terms
of missing players. At first it looked as though
Hungary would overrun Uruguay, helped, apparently,
by the heavy rain earlier in the day; for the Magyars
scored in the opening quarter of an hour as a result
of A Kocsis header to Czibor which was blasted into
the back of the net. Yet the traffic was not all
one way as Uruguay’s midfield general Schiaffino
contrived to create opportunities for the South
American side. Shortly after half time, one of the
greatest goals ever seen in a World Cup seemed to
end the match as a contest. A poor clearance from
Carballo at the back of the Uruguayan defence was
intercepted by Buzansky. Instantly Budai and Boszik
charged forward, the latter managing to lay on a
cross to Hidegkuti, who was apparently too far away
to take advantage, yet the quick thinking centre-forward
dived, just managing to head the ball into the back
of the net. Two-nil. Uruguay, with the confidence
of a team never previously beaten in any World Cup,
continued to exude self-belief, chance after chance
was fashioned by Schiaffino, Borges on the left
wing had a shot cleared off the line. Eventually
Hohburg, in the final quarter of an hour of normal
time, managed to exploit a Schiaffino pass and score.
The champion was aroused and fighting, two-one did
not appear an insurmountable deficit, thus the valiantly
rallying Uruguayans managed to repeat nearly the
identical trick in the eight-eighth minute, Hohburg
again scoring from a Schiaffino pass, the effort
of which caused him to faint. The game moved into
extra time. Yet these fantastic exertions had taken
their toll, Uruguay only had one more real chance
early on, the Schiaffino-Hohburg combination yet
again, which resulted in a shot which bounced off
a post. Thereafter the traffic streamed towards
the Uruguayan goal as the much fitter Hungarians
pressed forward. In the second period of extra time,
Kocsis scored twice with headers, body blows from
which Uruguay were too drained to recover. Thus
the two teams that had qualified from Pool Two would
meet in the final, with the additional diabolical
fillip that the West Germans would be considerably
Berne 4 July 1954
Result (half-time score in brackets)
West Germany 3 (2) Hungary 2 (2)
West Germany: Turek, Posipal, Kohlmeyer, Eckel,
Liebrich, Mai, Rahn,
Morlock, O. Walter, F. Walter, Schäfer.
Hungary: Grosics, Buzansky, Lantos, Bozsik, Lorant,
Czibor, Kocsis, Hidegkuti, Puskas, J. Toth.
Referee: Bill Ling (England).
Scorers: Morlock, Rahn (2) West Germany.
Puskas, Czibor Hungary.
The 1954 final would be between the war time allies
Hungary and (West) Germany. Hungary which when a
kingdom in the Hapsburg Empire had encompassed a
much wider area, including Transylvania, the Voivodina
(in modern day Serbia) and Slovakia. The Hungarian
capital Budapest had been completely shattered in
savage fighting in November 1944 when captured by
Malinovskii’s Second Ukrainian Front. For the first
time in a while the Hungarian nation, shackled behind
the Iron Curtain, would have something to celebrate,
for their team was the world’s finest footballing
circus. Bread would have to wait until after the
collapse of the Soviet Union. The horrific injury
inflicted by Liebrich in the first match with West
Germany had kept Puskas out, he now returned to
the Hungarian team. It was and is arguable that
it was a mistake to reinstate Hungary’s finest player,
for he was not fit and his return necessitated some
reshuffling that resulted in players playing outside
their best positions. Nor was there a possibility
to rectify this mistake as substitutions were not
On the day of the match (4 July 1954, US Independence
Day!) the heavens opened. West Germany were physically
much more robust than Uruguay, Hungary’s previous
opponents, so this would not necessarily have benefited
Hungary, particularly given Puskas’s injury; nonetheless
the “Magic Magyars” were two up after only eight
minutes. Yet even this short interval had taken
its toll, the injury Puskas was carrying meant that
Hungary had effectively only ten men, worse even
as players would naturally assume Puskas to be capable.
Thus West Germany equalised after less than ten
minutes. The impossible had become the credible.
Underdogs can produce the performance of a lifetime
which is what happened here as Toni Turek the West
German goalkeeper changed from the villain who had
conceded two goals, to the hero who saved everything.
Shot after shot rained in without breaching the
fortress. Then after eighty-three minutes play Rahn
of West Germany burst through the Hungarian defence
and scored. Game over? No, for two minutes later
Puskas equalised, save that the goal was disallowed
for offside, a questionable but final decision.
Thus it came about that one of the weaker teams
in the tournament became World Champions. The Hungarian
team of 1954 vies with the Dutch sides of the 1970s
for the status of the strongest team not to win
the World Cup.