Friday 13th June 1986
This was the conclusion of the group stage. By the end of the day, we would know all the ties for the Second Round. So far the final round of matches in each group had largely gone as expected. All except Group F, England’s group. Every other group saw no change in the standings, but Group F was completely different as the top two and the bottom two changed places. Now for Group E and with Northern Ireland going out yesterday, Scotland were hoping to join England in the knockout stage. They would have to overcome Uruguay first. The other game was the tremendously exciting Danes against the West Germans. Quite a prospect.
Estadio La Corregidora, Querétaro, 36,000
DENMARK (1) 2 (J Olsen 43 pen, Eriksen 62)
WEST GERMANY (0) 0
DENMARK: Høgh; Sivebaek, Busk, M Olsen, Andersen; Arnesen, Mølby, J Olsen (Simonse), Lerby; Laudrup, Elkjaer (Eriksen)
WEST GERMANY: Schumacher; Berthold, Förster (Rumenigge), Herget, Eder, Jakobs; Matthäus, Rolff (Littbarski), Brehme; Allofs, Völler
After the Italy v Argentina game, this was the most anticipated match of the group stages. The Danes had built a reputation for exciting attacking football. They were up against the West Germans, with all their efficiency and strength.
The Danes had burst onto the scene during Euro ’84 and were unlucky not to make the Final. Now they were at a World Cup for the first time. Heady days. After beating Scotland in their opening game, they produced the performance of the competition thus far when they completely ripped Uruguay apart. Some of the attacking play for many teams had been a bit ponderous and cautious. Denmark were a breath of fresh air.
They were managed by Sepp Piontek. Born in Breslau which was part of Nazi Germany, but now known as Wroclaw part of Poland. He made four changes from the Uruguay game. First-choice keeper Troels Rasmussen was out for the rest of the tournament, so Lars Høgh came in. It was only his fourth cap, three years after his first and his first appearance for his country for a year. Ivan Nielsen, Jens Jorn Bertelsen and Klaus Berggreen made way for John Sivebaek, Jan Molby and Jesper Olsen. Molby and Olsen were both playing their football in England at the time at Liverpool and Manchester United, respectively.
West German manager, Franz Beckenbauer made four changes from the side which came from behind to beat Scotland. Hans-Peter Briegel, Pierre Littbarski, Felix Magath and Klaus Augenthaler were the ones left out. Matthias Herget, Ditmar Jakobs, Wolfgang Rolff and Andy Brehme came in. Brehme played against Uruguay, but the others were making their first World Cup appearances.
They’d conceded first in both games so far and had yet to hit their stride. Both teams were already through to the next round, and for the Germans to drop to third in the group they’d need a swing of 6 goals in Uruguay’s favour over the two matches.
Denmark had the first real chance as Sivebaek joined the attack and went round Schumacher only to see Förster deflect it for a corner.
Lerby then had a shot from long range which Schumacher couldn’t hold onto, but Förster was again there to help out his keeper.
The Danes were rampant by now. Arnesen surged forward and found Lerby, who tried to hook it back to him. The ball ran behind him and Laudrup picked it up and was clear on goal to slide it under Schumacher. But the linesman raised his flag. What for, no one knows. Arnesen would’ve been offside had he touched the ball but Laudrup was clearly onside when he took it on.
Then Allofs forced a good save from Høgh as the Germans beat the offside trap. Within minutes he was called into action again as Berthold had a chance.
This was the Germans’ best period. Brehme hit a stunning strike from about 30 yards out which beat the keeper but rattled against the bar.
Arnesen was a constant threat with his running at the defence. At one point he was away down the right and slipped the ball past Förster. The German went to ground and Arnesen fell over him. It was just inside the area but unbelievably the Belgian referee awarded a free-kick to the Germans. Förster’s challenge meant Arnesen had to jump over him. It was hardly the Danes’ fault if he couldn’t manage that, but perhaps the ref thought he should’ve made more of an effort.
The game was all-action as the Germans again had another opportunity through Matthäus but his shot went just wide, at the second attempt.
With just two minutes of the half to go Morten Olsen went on a run from the back. He made it all the way into the German area. Brehme had tracked him back from midfield, stride for stride. Then in an incident reminiscent of Bertie Vogts challenge on Kevin Keegan in the 1977 European Cup Final, the German just couldn’t resist a challenge in the area. Olsen went down and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. At last, Denmark had a penalty.
Jesper Olsen was given the responsibility of taking it. For some reason, he started his run from outside the ‘D’ yet trotted up to the ball and slid it to Schumacher’s right as the keeper went left. 1-0.
Early in the second half, the Germans had a good chance when Littbarski hooked the ball just past the post from the tight angle at the far post.
Matthäus then should’ve done better when presented with a golden opportunity. He was free in the area but his shot was well saved by the Danish keeper. Høgh had come into the tournament as the third-choice keeper in the squad, yet was playing well enough to deserve to keep his place.
At the start of the second half, John Eriksen, who was playing his football for Feyenoord at the time, replaced Elkjaer in attack. Just after the hour, he doubled his side’s lead. It was another clinical attack which saw Molby put Arnesen clear down the right. He crossed into the six-yard box and Eriksen got ahead of the defence to turn it in. 2-0.
Denmark last beat the Germans back in the ’20s, and here they were confirming their presence in the ‘ones-to-watch’ category.
Beckenbauer sent on Rummenigge and he had a good chance, turning Busk in the area but again the Danish keeper was equal to it.
On a day when everything went right for Denmark, there was a moment when it went sour. With just two minutes to go Arnesen and Matthäus clashed in midfield. Matthäus tried to take the Dane down with a scissor challenge, and as Arnesen got up he stood on the German who made quite a meal of it. The ref bought the German’s theatrics and Arnesen received a second yellow card and would now miss their Second Round match. It was the correct decision, although how Matthäus escaped unpunished seemed odd. But for Arnesen to do that, when already on a yellow card and two minutes away from a place in the knockout stage, was silly. Had Ray Wilkins not taught him anything?
It was a disappointing end for Denmark who were good value for their 2-0 win. They’d won their group and along with Brazil, went through with maximum points.
Estadio Neza 86, Nezahúalcóyotl, 20,000
URUGUAY (0) 0
SCOTLAND (0) 0
URUGUAY: Álvez; Gutiérrez, Acevedo, Diogo, Batista, Pereyra; Francescoli (Alzamendi), Santin, Barrios; Cabrera, Ramos (Saralegui)
SCOTLAND: Leighton; Gough, Miller, Narey, Albiston; Strachan, Aitken, McStay, Nicol (Nicholas); Sharp, Sturrock (Cooper)
Scotland took the field having lost both their matches so far. This was their fourth successive World Cup yet none of their predecessors had made it past the first stage. It would take a big performance for them to change the sequence.
Manager Alex Ferguson had, had to contend with illness in the camp while they’d been in Mexico. Many of the changes he’d made had been forced on him. But for this game, he made the huge decision to drop the captain, Graeme Souness. Not only was he not in the first 11, he wasn’t on the bench either. In 1978 manager Ally McLeod was criticised for not picking Souness until the Dutch game and the difference he made to their performance in that match was obvious. Now here was a Scotland manager deciding they could do without the one player who was a born winner. A man whose tough tackling and big-game experience should be vital for a match such as this. For a match they simply had to win it seemed a strange decision. Paul McStay replaced him. Ferguson reverted to two up front, having employed Steve Archibald as the lone striker against the Germans. Paul Sturrock and Graeme Sharp were partnered in attack. Paul McStay replaced Eamonn Bannon in midfield with Arthur Albiston coming in for Maurice Malpas at left-back.
Uruguay had been thumped by Denmark, which surprised many as they’d given West Germany a good game in their opening match. Manager Omar Borrás made three changes with Miguel Bossio, Jorge da Silva and Antonio Alzamendi left out, and Dario Pereyra, Wilmar Cabrera and Venancio Ramos replacing them. Bossio was missing having been sent off against the Danes.
Scotland needed to win to get to the next stage, but Uruguay were in the enviable position of knowing a draw would see them overtake Hungary as the fourth-best third-place team, on goal difference.
The match began dramatically. Gordon Strachan received the ball from a throw-in on the left, but as he got to the ball José Batista came in from behind him and hacked him to the ground. The French referee gave him a straight red card as if he’d been primed to expect that sort of thing from Uruguay and was keen to stamp his authority on the game. Uruguay were 0-1 down when Bossio was sent off against Denmark and ended up losing 1-6. What would happen to them now?
It took a while to get the game back underway, what with Strachan receiving treatment and the Uruguayan players complaining to the ref. In the end, the free-kick was wasted, but Scotland had a man advantage for all but 60 seconds of the game. Surely that would be the boost they needed?
Many predicted the Uruguayans would go in hard against their opponents but few expected this. Gradually, the pattern of the game emerged. Uruguay seemed happy to defend and see if Scotland had any good ideas in attack.
Midway through the first half, Scotland should’ve gone in front. Roy Aitken made progress down the right of the area and squared it into the six-yard box. Steve Nicol was at the back post and his marker was stuck on his heels, allowing the Liverpool player a free hit. But Nicol’s attempt was far too tame and allowed Álvez to save it on the line. It was a golden opportunity but rather added to the nervousness felt by the Scotland supporters.
Francescoli then eased past McStay’s weak challenge, beat Miller but fired his shot straight at Leighton.
Half-time came with still no goals. It suited the South Americans but Scotland were becoming increasingly frantic. Gough had a chance but his effort was also tame and bounced into the ground then up into the keeper’s hands.
Not long after the Uruguayans had a free kick in a dangerous position on the right. It was curled into the area and unbelievably Cabrera was completely unmarked. His header was well saved by Leighton, but where on earth was the marking?
Narey then had a shot from long-range go just over. It was reminiscent of his glorious strike against Brazil four years earlier, but this one went the wrong side of the bar.
Eventually, the game ended in a rather scrappy manner. Scotland just didn’t have enough to beat Uruguay. They should’ve done, given the names on the pitch. But maybe they had better options off it. Ferguson has subsequently admitted leaving out his captain was one of the worst decisions he made. Within weeks of landing back home, he accepted the Manchester United job, so perhaps his mind had been elsewhere.
Uruguay were celebrating at the final whistle, knowing they’d got the draw they needed. They had been pretty physical but to battle for virtually the whole game a man down was a huge effort.
Scotland’s World Cup history is littered with what-might-have-beens. But for 1986, they were never in the hunt. They scored one goal in three matches and were only in front for seven minutes. 1978 was seen as a national disgrace, but at least they had the win over the Dutch and the Archie Gemmill wonder goal to look back on. In 1986 they just had Strachan’s celebration for his goal when he wasn’t big enough to get over the advertising hoarding.
So, Denmark won the group with maximum points. West Germany grabbed second place without looking all that convincing. Uruguay’s draw with Scotland handed them third place. This changed the third-place table as Uruguay moved ahead of Hungary on goal difference to earn a place in the next round.
GROUP E – FINAL TABLE
THIRD PLACE TABLE – FINAL
The Second Round ties were now all confirmed. Uruguay’s draw against Scotland earned them a tie with Argentina. Belgium were the best third-place team and they would be up against USSR, who they’d lost to in the second phase in 1982.
West Germany’s second place in Group E would see them line up against Morocco. For Morocco, this was a fantastic reward for Africa’s first representative in a World Cup second phase.
At one stage Poland would’ve been looking at a game against West Germany, but their defeat to England saw them finish third. This was enough to see them take on Brazil. The hosts, Mexico were due to meet Bulgaria, who qualified without winning a game.
England’s dramatic change in performance had them finish second in their group and were up against Paraguay, who’d finished second in Mexico’s group.
But the two most exciting ties were Denmark against Spain and Italy against France.
The first Second Round matches take place on 15th June, with the hosts in action. So we’ll be back then.
|17 June||Morocco||v||West Germany|