First Round
Hungary 3 Brazil 1

There could be no question of a game of attrition between two sides that laid such a premium upon attacking football, thus it was vital for Hungary to strike first and strike quickly. In the fourth minute Bene swept in from the right wing squeezing past his markers, his quick powerful shot leaving Gylmar, who was in goal for the champions, no chance. It was a warning of things to come, Bene proving a thorn in the Brazilian team for the entire match. Indeed the gritty determination of the Hungarians meant that Brazil were never able to impose themselves for sustained periods. Great champions are not felled easily, and Brazil kept attacking, Tostao in the centre and Garrincha on the wing proving especially threatening, indeed Tostao equalised for the champions after fifteen minutes. Hungary refused to panic, Sipos and Meszöly in midfield proving very redoubtable as their tackling considerably reduced the pressure on the Hungarian defence. At half time both teams left the pitch with the match level at one-one. If the match had ended then the fifty thousand plus spectators at Goodison Park, home to Everton football club, would have had their money’s worth, but it could better for the neutral. Hungary, almost incredibly, slowly began to get the better of their mighty opponents, Sipos and Meszöly provided a platform for Albert to show his distribution skills: indeed the next goal came courtesy of this great performer who pass the ball, quick as a flash, to Brazil’s nemesis Bene who was storming down the right wing; at the same time Farkas was rushing towards the penalty area and received a beautifully placed pass just in front of him, such superb timing deserved something, and it came from a powerful shot taken without having to chest down or trap the ball: two-one to the Magyars who looked full value for the lead. This, the finest match of the 1966 World Cup, was far from over with Brazil constantly menacing the Hungarian goal; even when Bene rushed in to very nearly score, a run that was ended by a pedestrian foul that sent Bene tumbling. Meszöly took the resultant penalty in the seventy-third minute, which would surely finish Brazil. But no, Brazil kept attacking, opening themselves up for Rakosi to score a fourth, save that one of the linesman, almost certainly wrongly, ruled that the player was offside. This non-goal finally caused Brazil to subside.

Quarter - final
Portugal 5 (2) North Korea 3 (3)
Attendance 51,780

Fifty thousand people witnessed what looked like a miracle in the quarterfinal between Portugal and North Korea; for Asia’s representatives raced to an amazing three-nil lead after twenty-two minutes. Before the tournament began North Korea had been quoted at 1000-1 by bookmakers, many a heart must have been racing by this stage. But one couldn’t ever discount the “Black Panther” as Eusebio scored four in little over half an hour, two of them from penalties. Portugal winning eventually by five goals to three. There would be no miracles that day, but the crowd warmed to the plucky underdogs, who had carried on attacking when prudence might have been advisable.

Semi-final results

Half time scores in brackets.

England 2 (1) Portugal 1 (0)
Attendance 94,493
The semi-finals were contested by four European teams, a decisive termination of the Latin American supremacy, albeit, a rather harsh one. For the home fans it was a relief when England finally started to play at a level that befitted potential champions; a necessary precondition as their opponents Portugal had scored more goals than anyone else left in the competition. Ramsey assigned to Nobby Stiles the difficult task of marking Eusebio; Stiles had a formidable reputation as a tackler, as hinted at above in the comments about the England-France first round match, yet the match was a relatively clean affair, the referee did not blow his whistle to signal a foul until the fifty-eighth minute; and Stiles largely kept Eusebio quiet. Indeed only three fouls were noted by the referee for the entire match. For half an hour the match patterns were determined by England, with several chances being fluffed by Geoff Hurst; many an England fan was ruing the absence of the injured Grieves. Then fortune smiled on England when Pereira, in goal for Portugal, unaccountably kicked an incoming ball away instead of trying to grab it with his hands; the ball headed straight for Bobby Charlton who instantly sent it past the goalkeeper. England had now played roughly for and a half matches in the World Cup without conceding a goal, had the best goalkeeper in the competition and the best defence. Portugal’s prospects looked bleak. Eusebio was not willing to give up, forcing an outstanding save from the flexible Banks in goal for England very soon afterwards. The second half followed largely the one script, wave after wave of Portuguese attacks without resulting in any meaningful product. The margin of the lead was so slender that it appeared possible that Portugal could alter the course of the contest; even though there was always a hint of menace in the England counterattacks. Moore, with his great ability to turn defence into attack, passed the ball in the eighty-first minute from the left side of central defence to George Cohen on the right wing. The fullback raced forward until he had the opportunity to pass the ball to Geoff Hurst who was just ahead of him. Hurst carried on the run wrong-footing Portugal’s Hilario; suddenly Hurst stopped; he quickly slid the ball to Charlton who was on the edge of the penalty area near the marked semicircle. Charlton through everything he had into an incredibly hard shot that gave Pereira no chance; it was such a spectacular shot, with Charlton still in the air as he scored, that several of the Portuguese players applauded him. A two-nil score line would have been hard on the team from the Iberian Peninsular, thus there was an element of justice when a rare Banks error, resulting from misjudging a cross, pressured Jack Charlton into handling the ball in the area. Eusebio scored from the penalty that was awarded; but there would be no more goals. England were through to the final of a World Cup for the first time.

England’s opponents were West Germany, who had benefited from the sending off of a Soviet player and the injury to another. In view of these advantages the two-one winning margin was hardly convincing.

Final result
Wembley 30 July 1966

England: Banks, Cohen, Wilson, Stiles, Charlton J, Moore,
Ball, Hurst, Hunt, Charlton R, Peters.

West Germany: Tilkowski, Hottges, Schnellinger, Beckenbauer,
Schulz, Weber, Held, Haller, Seeler, Overath, Emmerich.

Referee: Gottfried Dienst (Switzerland).

Half time scores in brackets.

England 4 (1) West Germany 2 (1) after extra time.

Attendance: 96,924

Hurst (3), Peters (1),
Haller, Weber.

On 30 July 1966 ninety-six thousand nine hundred and ninety four, largely English, fans crowded into Wembley stadium. Up until then England had never lost to Germany, they had home advantage, and had only conceded one goal throughout the entire competition. Unsurprisingly, England were firm favourites. Yet rain would be a factor in this game, making the pitch muddy and slippery, so there would be goals, for there would be more errors than the norm.

It was an error that produced the first goal, Ray Wilson of England headed the ball out of defence straight into the path of West Germany’s Helmut Haller, there was no reprieve, and only thirteen minutes had elapsed. Fortunately for England, parity was restored in a little over five minutes when a quickly taken free kick found an unmarked Geoff Hurst at the near post of the German goal; the West Ham connection had been established and the score was one-one. However, the well-marshalled Germans refused to buckle; and England, despite enjoying much possession, were unable to break through. At half time both teams departed for the dressing rooms with the decision being very much in doubt. More rain did not greatly influence the pattern of the match when it resumed, England’s marginal superiority not translating into anything quantifiable. Team terrier Alan Ball just would not give up; a shot at goal forcing Tilkowski, in goal for Germany, to concede a corner after seventy-eight minutes. Ball picked up the ball and eagerly took the corner, which reached Geoff Hurst, Hurst shot, the shot fortuitously spinning off the foot of Germany’s Hottges towards Martin Peters; the ghost had arrived, and as was to happen many times in his career, the calmly taken shot defeated the opponent’s goalkeeper. Eight minutes later Bobby Charlton had the chance to end the game, but he was off-target. Then right at the death the referee decided that Jack Charlton, Bobby’s brother, had fouled Held of Germany. Emmerich took the free kick, his shot cannoned off Schnellinger’s back, who had infiltrated the England wall, which enabled Held to chaotically pass to Weber, courtesy of George Cohen’s knee, at the far post and send the ball goal wards.

Extra time, a potentially deflating moment for the England players who had thought the game was won. Happily, Ramsey found the right words to summon the spirits to renew the battle: “You’ve beaten them once, now you’ve got to do it again. Look at them, they’re finished!” Two exhausted teams rose to continue the contest. After ten minutes the indefatigable Alan Ball chased a long ball punted upfield by Nobby Stiles, catching it just before the right hand corner flag, Ball turned and passed to Geoff Hurst, who was on the corner of the six yard box; Hurst swivelled with the ball and shot, with Schulz of West Germany in attendance attempting to tackle him, the ball struck the upright and headed straight down. The ball span out of the goal which enabled Weber to head it away. Instantly England’s Roger Hunt raised his hand to claim the goal, several West German players raised theirs to protest that the ball had not crossed the line, but what had happened? Gottfried Dienst of Switzerland, who had commendably refereed the final, was rightly close to the action, but he was genuinely uncertain. A position that is readily comprehensible to anyone who has seen this incident. Dienst turned to linesman Bakhramov from the Soviet Union; Bakhramov, too, was admirably placed, being positioned level with the goal. An exhausted Geoff Hurst had his hands on his knees, he had visibly wilted. Pandemonium broke out when Bakhramov pointed to the centre circle. The serried ranks of England fans felt there was no way back for West Germany. However, had the ball crossed the line? There was a motor camera placed in line with the goal line, this shows conclusively that the ball did not wholly cross the line, thus the referee was wrong. At the end of the match an expectant joyous crowd started to come on the pitch, yet the referee had not blown the whistle: “they think it’s all over”, remarked BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, as Bobby Moore sped an accurate pass upfield to Geoff Hurst; “it is now!”, continued Wolstenholme as Moore’s pass was smashed into the German net by Hurst.

The final was memorable as a well played game with an unfortunate, but easily comprehensible refereeing error, and a fine send-off from Wolstenholme. The dream of England fans, that the much coveted World Cup would be won by the country that had invented football, was now a reality. The pain of the astonishing (England were later to beat the USA ten-nil) loss to the United States in the 1950 World Cup had been forgotten, the roastings from the Hungarians in 1953 were in the past. England had won in the middle of the exciting decade that was the sixties, in 1968 an English club side was to win the European Cup, there was an optimism abroad in an era after the more or less complete dismantling of the British Empire and the decline in the value of the pound.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.