Group 3
Brazil 1 England 0

It was no surprise when the second game clash between these two formidable sides, played on 7 June 1970, was dubbed the “real final”. Unfortunately for England, the temperature in Guadalajara reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit, a figure significantly in excess of what could be considered prudent: the England players took sodium tablets to ameliorate the effects of dehydration. The one-nil score line was in no way indicative of how exciting that match was; for the seventy thousand plus spectators saw treats such as the goal that never was, and this after only ten minutes. Jairzinho, who was in top form for this game, picked up the ball on the extreme right, once he had shaken off his marker Tommy Cooper; his angle was such that it was impossible to gauge whether he would shoot at the near or far post, moreover Pelé was superbly situated to head the ball should Jairzinho pick him out. Gordon Banks, still rated the world’s number one goalkeeper, moved to cover the near post, which was the most likely destination of any ball released by Jairzinho, while there was every expectation that the England defenders would prevent the ball ever reaching the far post. In the event, Jairzinho chipped the ball very high in the air, no England defender could reach it, surely it would pass harmlessly by? But no, Pelé jumped, he rose so high that it seemed impossible; furthermore, the timings of the pass and the jump were perfectly synchronised, almost as if they had been choreographed; Pelé had time to divine where Banks was, and directed a powerful header towards the far post, furthermore the ball was directed downwards, for it would be impossible for a goalkeeper to rush the length of the goal, dive and prevent the ball going in. Banks did the impossible, knocking the ball upwards with one hand over the bar. A stunned Pelé later recalled his thoughts: “At that time I hated Banks more than any man in football. I just couldn’t believe it. But when I cooled down I had to applaud him with all my heart. It was the greatest save I have ever seen”. Later on Geoff Hurst is presented with a chance to put England ahead, unfortunately he was never to possess the goal scoring instinct of Jimmy Grieves, he paused and then shot weakly. He should have taken the opportunity, and left the problem of whether he was offside to the match officials. It was a costly error. The match was goal less at half time, but it was an evenly contested affair with which both sides could be satisfied. The contest between the giants resumed in the second half, could the strongest attack in the competition, Brazil’s, break through against the most formidable defence available, that of England? Fourteen minutes into the second half the answer came back in the affirmative, although not before Francis Lee had headed a cross straight at Felix, who was in goal for Brazil: one needed more than that to win such a match.. Tostao was running down the left touchline in possession of the ball, Moore moved out of central defence to support England right back Newton, he was followed by Labone. Moore decided that this support, and the danger presented by Tostao, was such that the best option was to try and tackle the Brazilian genius. It was a fatal error for Tostao recovered quicker than Moore, the Brazilian swept in a quick pass towards Pelé who was entering the penalty area, shadowed, as he had been throughout the match, by the superb Alan Mullery. The danger of a shot from this position forced Terry Cooper to move towards Pelé to block. Quick as a flash Pelé passed to his right where Jairzinho was rushing in towards the exposed England left; Martin Peters stormed back in an attempt to fill the hole, while Banks rushed out of goal to reduce the angle, but it was too late. Jairzinho found the gap that Banks could not cover and sent the ball thundering into the far corner. A stunned Banks kneeled on the ground, it was a body blow. Yet the game was not over as a contest, England substitute Astle fluffs a chance to equalise when his shot skids past the wrong side of a post. Later on a header from Astle puts Ball into a position to score, yet the Everton player, who was soon to join the Arsenal, was unable to do anything. Later on Ball partly redeemed himself when his shot skimmed over the bar. But it was not to be. Brazil had won the game that should have been the final by the narrowest of margins. Luckily, however, both teams were still in the competition.


Half time scores in brackets.

England 2 (1) West Germany 3 (0) After extra time.
Attendance 24,000

The game of the round was between the finalists of 1966, England and West Germany. For England there was a disaster when goalkeeper Gordon Banks suffered from food poisoning. He had to be replaced at a late stage by Chelsea’s Peter Bonetti, who was not remotely in the same class. England were therefore already without their best player before a ball had been kicked. West Germany would have been further encouraged that the venue was León where they had played and won all their group games. West Germany were popular with the locals, who took to hooting the horns of their cars outside the hotel where England were staying on the night before the match; indeed Banks was of the opinion that the food poisoning was not accidental: “the more I look back, the more I believe my food could have been tampered with”. Notwithstanding this, the start of the match was a disaster for West Germany with Alan Mullery and Bobby Moore in fine fettle and dictating events. This dominance being converted into a goal for Mullery after just over half an hour. This supremacy was maintained all the way to half time and the beginning of the second half. Five minutes after the interval the match seemed to be over as a contest when Martin Peters scored from a Newton cross. West Germany had forty minutes to do something, so with just over half an hour left they brought on Grabowski. In the appalling heat of that day this fresh pair of legs lent new impetus to West Germany, but still they could not score. Then with twenty-two minutes left, a catastrophic blunder from Bonetti, who dived too late to save a shot from Beckenbauer, resulted in the ball ending up in the right hand corner. West Germany were undeservedly back in the game. Nonetheless, the match should still have been won by England; however, England manager Ramsey panicked, taking off two world class players, Bobby Charlton and Martin Peters, in the matter of a few minutes, when it was obvious that the struggling Terry Cooper should have been replaced. England’s organisation disintegrated, thus enabling Uwe Seeler to score from a back header after a slip by the tired Brian Labone. The score was level now with eight minutes of normal time left. The exhausted players fought on until the game reached extra time. Stamina would now be more important that footballing skill. The fates then dealt a cruel blow to England; four years previously in the World Cup final Geoff Hurst scored a goal that should not have been allowed, he now scored a perfectly legitimate goal that was disallowed, a form of delayed justice. Finally Gerd Müller volleyed a tremendous shot home from mid-air that signalled the end for England, their exhaustion and loss of two of their most creative players making any hope of a fight back just a pipe dream. England were left to rue what might have been, for they thrown away a won game.

Semi Finals
West Germany 3 (0) Italy 4 (1)
Attendance 80,000

The match between Italy and West Germany, however, was a much more absorbing contest, in stark contrast to all of Italy’s previous games in the competition. At first the game started in a manner highly suited to Italian tastes, for Boninsegna had struck home in the ninth minutes of play after two fortunate rebounds. Entirely predictably this served as the cue for the Italian players to withdraw and attempt to play the remainder of the match without another goal. This was something in which they were peerless, having done this very thing in three of their matches of the World Cup to date. This enabled West Germany to dominate the field, they were able to gather a surprisingly large number of chances, with Beckenbauer, in particular, unlucky not to win a penalty. Nonetheless the Italian luck held, the longer the match went on, the more desperate the West Germans became. A cynical tackle on Beckenbauer, with half an hour left to play, sent the West German talisman tumbling. Such was the force of the fall that Beckenbauer dislocated his shoulder. Schön the West German manager had already used one of his permitted two substitutions, the obvious thing to do would have been to replace the injured Beckenbauer; yet there was a genuine dilemma, Beckenbauer was the one truly great player in this German team, he had served as the fulcrum of most West German attacks, to replace him would almost have been tantamount to capitulation. The clincher for Schön was the willingness of Beckenbauer to continue, notwithstanding his quite useless right arm; so Patzke was removed from the West German defence and replaced by Held. The gamble appeared to be in vain when a powerfully struck shot from Held was cleared off the line, then Albertosi in goal for Italy brilliantly saved a Seeler effort. Ninety minutes had been played, the increasingly frantic Germans threw every available player into the attack, losing two-nil would have been no different to one-nil. Finally the Italian game plan was busted when a fast low cross from Grabowski on the left was met by Schnellinger, who put the ball home. West Germany would have to play their second extra-time game in as many matches. This was much worse in the hellishly hot conditions of the Azteca stadium in Mexico City in front of an ecstatic crowd of eighty thousands, than it would have been in Europe; for the venue was at a very high altitude, and midsummer in Mexico is far more challenging that in Europe. At least Beckenbauer’s right arm was now strapped, but the odds still favoured the Italians in a game now likely to be determined by blunders. Incredibly the first error came from an Italian substitute, Poletti, from which Müller was able to capitalise after just four minutes of extra time. West Germany were now two-one up in a match that was now both entertaining and farcical; within minutes Italy had scored twice, courtesy of Burgnich and Riva, three - two, what else could happen? Surely the drama was over? But no, just over five minutes later Müller scored again, literally throwing his head towards the ball. West Germany learnt that a minute can be a long time, for that was all Boninsegna needed to cross to Rivera from the goal line on the left, Rivera made no mistake. West Germany had lost, but they had given their all, they had displayed bravery and determination when it would have been all to easy to have sunk to an ignominious one-nil defeat.

Final result
Mexico City 21 June 1970

Brazil: Felix, Carlos Alberto, Brito, Piaza, Everaldo,
Gerson, Clodoaldo, Jairzinho, Pelé, Tostao, Rivelino.

Italy: Albertosi, Burgnich, Cera, Rosato, Fachetti, Bertino (74 Juliano),
Riva, Domenghini, Mazzola, De Sisti, Boninsegna (85 Rivera).

Referee: Rudi Glockner (East Germany).

Half time scores in brackets.

Brazil 4 (1) Italy 1 (1)
Attendance: 107,000

Pelé (17), Gerson (65), Jairzinho (70), Carlos Alberto (86);
Boninsegna (37).

Brazil were to face their antithesis on 20 June 1970, extravagant attacking would be met by stonewalling and blanket defence. Exuberant ambition would challenge cynicism. Two Latin sides would fight, one from Europe, the other from the Americas; two countries, who had two wins each, would battle to win the Jules Rimet Trophy for the third time and be entitled to keep it. Probably nearly everyone who had an interest in the game but no Italian ties wanted the South Americans to win. More than one hundred thousand people crowded into the Azteca stadium on 21 June 1970. They were rewarded with some spectacular passing and movement from the Brazilians who dominated right from the beginning. In the eighteenth minute Italy’s hopes of a successful dour defence, and a solitary successful strike, were ended when Rivelino crossed from the left; Pelé rose majestically to meet it and headed downwards, this time there was no Gordon Banks to make a stupendous, impossible save. Italy had conceded, they would have to come out and play, which might expose them to further damage. Yet the pattern did not alter all that much, the Italians knew just how dangerous Brazil could be, their hopes still rested on a lucky break, which was precisely what happened. In the thirty-eighth minute Clodoaldo casually back-heeled the ball. He had not being paying attention and the Brazilian defenders were a fraction too slow to react, instead Boninsegna slipped in and raced for goal, the onrushing Brazilian goalkeeper Felix tried to do what he could, however, he was easily side-stepped; Italy were suddenly, and completely against the run of play, level. Brazil just carried on as they had been, yet there were no further goals in the first half. The pattern did not alter in the second, it took Brazil all of twenty minutes to break through this time; Gerson sending a thunderously powerful shot towards the Italian goal after he had successfully wrong footed his markers by pivoting just outside the penalty box. This time there would be no gift from the boys from Brazil, five minutes later a Gerson free kick was headed by Pelé into the path of Jairzinho, Jairzinho simply guided himself and the ball between the goal posts past the goal line. There could be no doubt as to the result, one met with approval by the crowd as Brazil continued to press. The performance was capped by yet another goal, four minutes from the end Alberto’s charge towards the Italian penalty area from the right was anticipated by Pelé who expertly placed the ball in his path, all Alberto had to do was shoot, shoot accurately and shoot hard, he did so, the ball accelerating towards the far post past a beaten goalkeeper. Brazil had won, they had won possibly the finest finals ever despite all the organisational difficulties, the high altitude and the obscene temperatures, they had won with one player Jairzinho becoming the first ever to score in every game, they had won with perhaps the finest footballing team ever assembled by a nation contesting the World Cup finals. Zagalo Brazil’s manager had himself played for the successful 1958 and 1962 sides.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.