This is the story of a tournament which was held in the summer of 1972, to celebrate 150 years of Brazilian independence. 20 teams took part. The largest collection of nations at a football tournament before 1982. Five teams had a bye to the second phase, so the other 15 contested in three groups to find out who would join them. We’ve had five days of matches so far.
In Salvador, the two representative sides, CONCACAF and Africa, played out a goalless draw in Group A. Both were still without a win in the tournament, which perhaps reflected how their respective regions still had some growing to do in world football.
Later that day in the same stadium, Argentina moved to the top of Group A on goal difference. Carlos Bianchi hit a hat-trick. He scored the only goal of the first half and then another early in the second. There were then three goals in eight minutes as Argentina ran out 4-1 winners, putting paid to any hopes Colombia might have of making the next round.
Bianchi was a prolific goalscorer throughout his playing days before carving out a successful coaching career. He is the only coach to win four Copa Libertadores and three Intercontinential Cups.
This left the competition with an intriguing final game between France and Argentina to determine who went through.
Group C was getting interesting as Yugoslavia took on leaders Paraguay in Manaus. Paraguay could go a long way to booking their place in the next round if they won. When Alberto Escobar gave them a first-half lead things were looking good.
Dušan Bajević, who’d scored five against Venezuela, then hit two goals in six minutes to give Yugoslavia the lead. They held it to the end and moved to the top of the group.
All three groups were concluded on the same day.
In Group A Argentina and France met in Manaus. Whichever team won would top the group, but a draw would be enough for Argentina to go through on goal difference. The game ended goalless.
Earlier in the day Africa and Colombia finished their tournament schedules. Africa had yet to score so far but within eight minutes Laurent Pokou changed all that. Jean-Pierre Tokoto, who would later play in Cameroon’s debut World Cup appearance in 1982, scored either side of the break and Africa won comfortably, 3-0.
|Pos||GROUP A – FINAL TABLE||Pld||W||D||L||F||A||Pts|
Realistically, Group B was all over. Portugal’s substantial goal difference advantage was going to be nigh on impossible to overhaul. They were up against the Irish, who needed to overturn an 8-goal deficit. They needed to win by at least five goals to go win the group. But they still couldn’t rule out Chile getting there. Chile were two goals worse off than the Irish, and needed a swing of 10 goals in their favour to beat the Portuguese.
But a 3-0 win for Ireland, for example, would mean Chile could sneak in if they beat Iran 6-0.
Both matches were played at the Estadio do Arruda, Recife. Chile and Iran were up first and a goalless first half hardly helped the South Americans’ plight. Caszely kept his record of scoring in every match when he put Chile in front soon after the break. It took 11 minutes from the end for him to improve on this with his fifth of the tournament. Majid Halvaei got one back for Iran just before the end and Chile knew a 2-1 win just wasn’t enough.
Portugal and Ireland lined up for the group decider. This was their first meeting for 23 years after the Irish picked up their only-ever win against the Portuguese.
The game was goalless going into the final 10 minutes of the first half, then it exploded. Fernando Peres picked up a loose ball just outside the area. With a deft shimmy onto his right foot, he fired it past Preston’s Alan Kelly in the Irish goal.
Barely three minutes later Kelly made a horrendous mistake and Nené passed the ball into the empty net for 2-0. Sixty seconds later the Irish were back in it. Mick Leech turned in a cross from the right and they had the belief they might be able to turn things around.
But try as they might there were no more goals, and the Irish, after winning their first two matches, were out. Portugal won the group, looking by far the best team in it. One moment of note came in the 84th minute when goalkeeper, José Henrique was replaced by Félix Mourinho for his one and only cap. Mourinho is the father of José.
|Pos||GROUP B – FINAL TABLE||Pld||W||D||L||F||A||Pts|
|3||Republic of Ireland||4||2||0||1||7||7||4|
Group C was the closest of the three groups. Yugoslavia, Peru and Paraguay were all in with a shout of winning the group. The Yugoslavs were a point in front, although their goal difference was probably worth another point. This meant Peru had to beat them to stand a chance of winning the group.
But up first was Paraguay. They were in Manaus to take on Bolivia, who were yet to win a game. Paraguay had an identical goal difference to Peru, so even a win over Bolivia wouldn’t guarantee their progress. If Peru could beat their margin of victory they would still end up on top.
Maldonado, who’d scored twice against Venezuela, opened the scoring inside the first 10 minutes. But they were unable to improve on this lead in the first half. 12 minutes into the second period suddenly it rained goals. Saturnino Arrúa increased their lead and two minutes later scored another. Pedro Molinas put through his own net to reduce the arrears for Bolivia, but it didn’t deter Paraguay. Maldonado scored his second four minutes later and within a minute, Arrúa had completed his hat-trick (in just 10 minutes) to make it 5-1. Five goals in just 10 minutes. Emigdio dos Santos rounded off the scoring just before the end and a 6-1 victory really put them in the running to go through to the next round.
When Yugoslavia and Peru lined up against each other, Paraguay were top of the group. But a draw would see Yugoslavia go through on goal difference. The pressure was really on Peru as Paraguay’s result earlier in the day meant they had to win by at least six goals.
Bajević put Yugoslavia in front after just four minutes. It was his eighth goal of the tournament. It took just seven minutes for Peru to level things when Oswaldo Ramirez scored.
Then as half-time approached Bajević found the net again to put Yugoslavia back in front. Peru now needed seven. As the game went on the Peruvians were resigned to their fate and motivation clearly seeped away. Yugoslavia controlled the game to win 2-1 and claim top spot in the group.
|Pos||GROUP C – FINAL TABLE||Pld||W||D||L||F||A||Pts|
We now had our three qualifiers to join the five teams who’d received a bye to the next stage. The eight teams were drawn into two groups. Yugoslavia went into Group One. They were joined by the hosts, Brazil, Scotland and Czechoslovakia.
Group Two saw Portugal and Argentina meet up with Soviet Union and Uruguay.
Brazil took their bow. Coach, Mário Zagallo chose a team which included six of the side which had seduced the world in the Azteca Stadium two years earlier. Games so far had struggled to attract the crowds but this one, predictably for the Maracanã drew in more than 100,000. But for all the talent of Rivellino, Tostão and Gerson, they couldn’t find the net and the game ended goalless.
Scotland manager Tommy Docherty had named a 15-strong squad, eight of whom plied their trade south of the border. The game came a month after an Alan Ball goal had beaten them to win the British Home International Championship for England at Hampden Park.
Their opening game was against free-scoring Yugoslavia. In his first eleven only two players had amassed double figures in appearances, with Partick’s Alex Forsyth making his debut. He was replaced at half-time by John Hansen, Alan’s brother.
The Scots were captained by Leeds United’s Billy Bremner, who had George Graham and Asa Hartford alongside him in midfield. Up front Manchester United legend Denis Law was partnered by a promising young Celtic striker, Lou Macari. Six months after this tournament Macari joined Law at Old Trafford, although they parted ways in summer ’73 when Law was given a free transfer to Manchester City.
It was Macari who opened the scoring six minutes before half-time. His first international goal having made his debut in the recent Home International Championship.
They held the lead until the hour mark when, who else, but Bajević scored for the Yugoslavs. It was his tenth goal of the tournament. The Scots were level for just three minutes before Macari struck again. This time it looked like they might be able to hold onto the lead but three minutes from time, another Manchester United player, Martin Buchan, put through his own net and the game ended 2-2.
In Group 2 the Soviet Union ran out in São Paulo just 11 days after losing the European Championships Final to West Germany. In reality, most of the Euro ’72 squad stayed at home. Manager, Aleksandr Ponomarev named 14 players from Ukrainian club, Zorya Luhansk, in his squad. Ten of them made the starting line-up against Uruguay, nine of them making their international debuts.
The only player who played in both this game and the Euro Final, Vladimir Onishenko, scored the only goal of the game to give the Europeans a great start.
In the Maracanã, Argentina met Portugal, the in-form team of the tournament so far. The Portuguese had won every match but it was the Argentinians who went in front. Brindisi giving them the lead on the half-hour.
It was short-lived as Portugal hit back within seven minutes when Adolfo Calisto equalised, with his first goal for his country. Calisto was one of nine Benfica players in the team and his more famous club team-mate, Eusébio then gave them the lead right on half-time. The two non-Benfica players in the starting eleven were from Sporting and one of them, Dinis, increased their lead soon after the break.
3-1 was how it ended and Portugal now had won five out of five.
The hosts were in action again, this time in São Paulo. Another crowd of 100,000 filled the ground to see them make a much better fist of things than they did against the Czechs four days before. Mario Zagallo named an unchanged side, but 20 minutes in he had to make an adjustment. Paulo Cesar went off and on came Leivinha, a tall midfielder from Palmeiras.
Within minutes the sub was in the action. Brazil had a free-kick on the left which Brito took. It was floated to the far post. Yugoslavia clearly hadn’t worked out how to deal with the new man, as they left him completely unmarked and he headed Brazil in front.
Three minutes later the new lad had done it again. Jairzinho was brought down on the right wing. He got up and fired in the free-kick low into the area. Inexplicably, Enver Maric dived straight over the ball and there was Leivinha to turn it in for his, and Brazil’s, second goal
A remarkable introduction for Leivinha, who is Uncle to former Liverpool midfielder, Lucas Leiva, as he scored his first goals for his country in just his second match.
The Yugoslavs struggled to get back into the game and it was put beyond them midway through the second half. Jairzinho went on a surging run from midfield towards the area. He combined with Clodoaldo and fired a stinging left-foot shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the area. 3-0 was how it finished and now the hosts were up and running.
In Porto Alegre, Scotland manager Tommy Docherty made just one change from the side which drew 2-2 with Yugoslavia. He decided the keeper needed changing and in came Aberdeen’s Bobby Clark.
The Czechs failed to find the net against Brazil in their first game and managed the same this time round. Two draws for both countries put the hosts in charge in the group.
In the Maracanã Portugal lined up looking for their sixth straight win in Brazil and seventh in all matches. But it was Uruguay who took the lead. In the 20th minute a high ball into the Portuguese box was met by Maneiro, who rose highest to beat the keeper. His looping header was going wide of the post before Ricardo Pavoni arrived to head it in.
Portugal continued to look dangerous and were by far the better team. Right on half-time they got their reward when Jaime Graça hit a fierce shot from outside the area which fizzed past the keeper into the roof of the net.
Graça was the guy who scored Benfica’s equaliser when they lost 1-4 to Manchester United in the 1968 European Cup Final. He played every game of Portugal’s 1966 World Cup campaign.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this match was the Portuguese didn’t go onto win it. The game ended 1-1.
Meanwhile in Belo Horizonte, Argentina were looking to pick themselves up after their defeat to Portugal. They were up against the USSR, who would be in complete control of the group if they won again.
A tightly fought game was decided with just 15 minutes to go. Argentina Footballer of the Year in 1971, José Omar Pastoriza, known as El Pato, capped a relatively brief international career with his first goal for this country. Once the tournament ended he moved from Independiente to Monaco in Ligue 1 and his international career was over.
This was the Soviet’s tenth international of the year and previously the only team to beat them was West Germany. Now the group was back in the balance as both South American teams both picked up points. Uruguay were effectively out of it, but Argentina were very much back in with a shout.