Semi-final results

Half time scores in brackets.

Sweden 3 (1) West Germany 1 (1)
Attendance: 49,471.

The tournament now began to attract much more interest in Sweden, as the belief started to enthuse the home crowds that their team might actually win. Perhaps the increased liveliness was engendered by the presence of cheerleaders on the pitch in Gothenburg before the match against West Germany had begun. At first it looked as though home advantage would count for nought when Schäfer scored for West Germany; but then the Swedish crowd started to roar and chivy their side. Liedholm of Sweden illegally handled the ball when passing to Skoglund for the equaliser, an offence missed by the referee which incensed the West German players. An injury followed by a sending off would have finished all but the greatest of teams in an era without substitutes; yet the score remained at one-one until the eight-second minute, after which the Swedes quickly scored again. The match left a sour taste, so it occasioned no surprise when Fifa banned the appearance of any cheerleaders in the final.

Final result
Stockholm 29 June 1958

Sweden Svensson, Bergmark, Axborn, Boerjesson, Gustavsson, Parling, Hamrin,
Gren, Simonsson, Liedholm, Skoglund.

Brazil Gylmar, D. Santos, N. Santos, Zito, Bellini, Orlando, Garrincha, Didi,
Vava, Pelé, Zagalo.

Referee: Bill Ling (England).

Half time scores in brackets.

Sweden 2 (1) Brazil 5 (2)

Attendance 49,737

The 1958 World Cup final was to be between the oldest and slowest team, Sweden, and the most exhilarating, Brazil. The ever optimistic George Raynor, Sweden’s inspirational manager, enthused his players with the observation that Brazil had yet to go a goal down in a match in the 1958 Finals; the path to victory was simple, just score first. Then the drawbacks to Brazil’s 4-2-4 formation would lead to panic and a Swedish victory. Twenty-four hours of rain before the final only helped to encourage this optimism, as such weather traditionally helped European sides in their battles with South American teams.

On the sodden field Gunner Gren passed quickly to Nils Liedholm who threaded his way past one defender and the weak challenges of two others. One-nil to Sweden, perhaps Raynor was right? The crowd, far quieter than in the semi-final, would see. But Brazil summed to more than Pelé, Garrincha on the right wing skipped past his marker to the base line, quickly whipping in a pass that Vava is able to ease in, one each now. And the demolition of the theory that Brazil would fold after going behind. Pelé then piled on the pressure thumping the goal post with a hard shot from distance, it was clear who was on top now. After more than half an hour’s play, Garrincha links up with Vava in a reprise of the first goal. Thus the Swede’s themselves were one down, would they panic? No, there would be no more goals before half time. Cometh the second half, cometh the man; Djalma Santos passed the ball diagonally to Pelé who has his back to the goal and two defenders behind him, ten minutes of the second half had been played; the Brazilian maestro, only seventeen years of age, controlled the ball with his chest, letting it fall onto his right foot, swivelling to his right he then flicked the ball over the Swedish defenders, charging in to collect it as it dropped, he then smashed the ball past a helpless Svensson in goal for Sweden. A two goal cushion and a time for Brazil to show-off their skills, a battered Sweden were forced to chase the ball to comical effect; Zagalo of Brazil then put paid to any lingering dreams, his powerful drive increased the lead to four-one. Yet Sweden did not collapse, Simonsson’s industry finally resulting in a consolation goal, four-two. A back heel from Pelé and a quick run into the penalty area left him beautifully place to head home the last of the Brazilian goals. Perhaps for the first time the World Cup had a convincing winner, and the winner’s name was Brazil. Brazil also showed great sportsmanship and vision; after the match was over the Brazilian players saluted their hosts by doing a lap of honour with the Swedish flag.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.