Mexico 70: Saturday 6th June 1970 and a stalemate between two World Cup heavyweights

Mexico 70 1970 World Cup Italy Uruguay

Welcome back to our day-by-day account of Mexico 70, the 1970 World Cup. If you have missed any of this fantastic series so far you can catch up here. Every single day, Pete Spencer will be telling you the story of the Greatest Show on Earth.


Saturday 6th June 1970

All teams had played yet there weren’t really any real shocks. Brazil was by far the most impressive, despite going a goal down. Defending champions, England had been comfortable in winning their first game. Italy had scored early then defended for the rest of the game. Peru were the most exciting, coming from two goals down to beat Bulgaria. After a break for three days we were back to the action. There was a sense around the World Cup everyone was waiting for the following day when England took on Brazil. But for now, there were still some fascinating games to see.


Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, 95,261

USSR (1) 4 (Byshovets 14, 63, Asatiani 57, Khmelnytskyi 76)

BELGIUM (0) 1 (Lambert 86)

USSR: Kavazashvili; Kaplichny (Lovchev), Afonin, Shesternyov; Asatiani, Muntyan, Dzodzuashvili (Kiselyov), Khurtsilava; Byshovets, Yevriuzhikin, Khmelnytskyi

BELGIUM: Piot; Heylens, Dewalque, Dockx, Thissen; Semmeling, van Moer, Jeck, van Himst; Lambert, Puis

Belgium could’ve confirmed their place in the knockout stages with a win in this game. They’d beaten El Salvador, 3-0 in their opening game. The Soviets had drawn 0-0 with Mexico so were keen to get their first victory.

Belgium started the brighter and in the tenth minute few could believe how they didn’t score. A cross from the right found van Moer free in the six-yard box. He headed it straight at the keeper, who failed to collect it and it bounced straight back to the Standard Liége man. With the goal at his mercy, the keeper helpless on the ground, van Moer just had to tap it in. But for some reason, he chose power and from about three yards out he hit the bar! The ball bounced back to safety and the chance had gone.

It took the Soviets just four minutes to make him pay. Byshovets was found down the right in loads of space. He was able to run, unchallenged, to the edge of the Belgium area. He twisted and turned, beat two defenders, cut inside and fired a left-foot shot into the top corner. It was a great goal and already Belgium looked tired.

USSR lead to the break. They seemed to be benefiting from all the preparation as their superior fitness levels gave them a huge advantage in the second period. Asatiani soon increased their lead. As with Byshovets, he twisted and turned his man before firing a left-foot shot across the keeper inside the far post. Six minutes later it was all over as a contest. Byshovets produced a carbon copy of his first goal and now Belgium found all their hard work against El Salvador had unravelled.

In their defence the Soviets had the advantage of a full three days extra rest, and in the heat of the Azteca, it showed. With 14 minutes remaining Khmelnytskyi ran down the left, cut inside then found Yevriuzhikin in space on the right. He beat his man, crossed to where Khmelnytskyi was now on the penalty spot and he headed in USSR’s fourth.

Embed from Getty Images

With four minutes remaining, Belgium got a consolation goal when van Moer hit a long-range shot against the post. Lambert was first to react and at least they’d avoided a negative goal difference. But now Belgium knew they were likely to need to beat Mexico in their final game to progress.


Estadio Cuauhtemoc, Puebla, 29.968


ITALY (0) 0

URUGUAY: Mazurkiewicz; Ubiña, Ancheta, Mastosas, Mujica; Cubilla, Castillo, Maneiro, Cortés; Bareño (Zubia), Espárrago

ITALY: Albertosi; Burgnich, Cera, Rosato, Facchetti; Domenghini (Furino), Bertini, Mazzola, De Sisti; Boninsegna, Riva

In Puebla both teams had won their opening games. This contributed to a rather drab game, although the best two players on the pitch were probably the goalkeepers. That’s not to say there weren’t chances, and Riva especially, was heavily involved. What the draw did was give them both an excellent chance of getting through to the next round.

Embed from Getty Images

Sandro Mazzola reckoned both teams looked at each other at the start of the game and knew they weren’t going to risk anything. This put pressure back on Israel and Sweden, who would’ve preferred one of them to have won.


Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara, 56,818

ROMANIA (0) 2 (Neagu 52, Dumitrache 75 pen)

CZECHOSLOVAKIA (1) 1 (Petras 5)

ROMANIA: Adamache; Satmareanu, Lupescu, Dinu, Mocanu; Neagu, Dumitru (Gergely), Nunweiller, Lucescu (Tataru); Dembrovschi, Dumitrache

CZECHOSLOVAKIA: Vencel; Dobias, Migas, Horváth, Zlocha; B Vesely, Kvasnak, Kuna; Petras, Jurkanin (Adamec), Jokl (F Vesely)

All the talk around was of the big clash the next day between Brazil and England, but for now, the other two battled it out in Guadalajara, in the hope that a result tomorrow would give them a sniff of overhauling the loser.

Romania went in unchanged, feeling they’d given a good account of themselves against England in their first game. The Czechs rung the changes. Viktor could consider himself a little unlucky to be ditched as keeper. Wouldn’t be the first, or last to be helpless as Brazil scored four glorious goals past him.

Romania had problems in the camp. Goalkeeper Necula Raducanu was considered first choice going into the tournament, but was dropped for ill-discipline in ignoring curfew rules. But the big news was of one of the country’s finest talents, Nicolae Dobrin, was missing from the first game and obviously left out for this one too.

Nicolae Lupescu explained in Andrew Downie’s book “The Greatest Show in Earth: The Inside Story of the Legendary 1970 World Cup”

“Dobrin didn’t play in this tournament because he loved beer too much. He used to drink one, but because of the heat he would ask for a second, then a third and so on. That was it. Dobrin was saying the weather is too warm, so he’s not training. In the night, he was out in the bars”

Embed from Getty Images

Czechoslovakia drew first blood early on after Veselý won the ball back on the right. He looked up and crossed into the box where Petrás beat his man to fire a header into the corner of the net. He’d scored his first goal for his country against Brazil and now he had his second. The game was only five minutes old.

The rest of the half was dominated by Romania as Dumitrache and Dembrovski went close. The pressure finally showed seven minutes after the break. Nunweiller found Neagu in the area, he turned his man and slid it in wide of the keeper for the equaliser.

The Czechs should’ve gone back in front when Petrás put it wide from a tight angle with the goal at his mercy. But then with 15 minutes to go Neagu, the most adventurous of the Romanians, turned his marker and enduced the foul.

The ref had little hesitation in pointing to the spot. Dumitrache stepped up and calmly placed it in the top left corner.

Czechoslovakia were staring elimination in the face and had to press forward. Left-back, Jan Zlocha hit the bar with a shot from 25 yards out.

In the end, the Romanians held on and had proved quite impressive in both matches, but now had the prospect of needing to see off Brazil to get through. Czechoslovakia were all but out of it.


Estadio Nou Camp, León, 13,537

PERU (0) 3 (Cubillas 65, 75, Challe 67)


PERU: Rubiños; González, de la Torre, Chumpitaz, Fuentes; Mifflin, Challe; Sotil, León, Gallardo, Cubillas

MOROCCO: Bem Kassou; Lamrani, Khanousi, Slimani, Benkhrif (Fadili); Mahroufi, Bamous, El Filali, Ghandi (Alaoui); Ghazouani, Jarir

Peru had captured the hearts of many when they came from two goals down to beat Bulgaria. The match was played just a couple of days after an earthquake had caused devastation back home. But their attacking play had been impressive.

Morocco had taken a surprise lead against the West Germans in their first match. They were unlucky to lose and certainly had their opponents rattled. Being the first African nation to qualify for a World Cup they had the hopes of a whole continent in their hands.

Peru were managed by former Brazilian international, Didi. A double World Cup winner, he had transformed a fascinatingly talented side into an exciting attacking team. They just attacked in packs, always with a man spare to take things on if a teammate was tackled. Names such as Cubillas, Sotil, Gallardo, Léon and Challe became well-known through their exposure during this tournament.

Captain Hector Chumpitaz led the team with style and panache. Think Beckenbauer or Passarella and you get the idea of his influence not only in defence but in attack. One move in the first half of this game showcased his skills. He intercepted a ball forward from the Moroccans and played a one-two with de la Torre. Rampaging forward he beat two defenders and even pirouetted to get past the last defender before his shot was saved.

Embed from Getty Images

Despite their dominance, the game was still goalless at the break. Morocco then had the best chance early in the second period when Ghandi headed just wide from a corner.

15 minutes into the half Peru should really have gone ahead. Sotil was put through and rounded the keeper only to find the angle was too tight for a shot. So he turned back to find Gallardo but he couldn’t get a shot in and the Africans cleared.

It only seemed a matter of time before Peru scored and so it proved. Their incisive passing found Sotil unmarked on the edge of the area. His shot was saved by Ben Kassou but Cubillas was on hand to put it into the empty net.

The Moroccans barely had time to compose themselves as the South Americans attacked again. Cubillas produced an impudent back-heel to find Challe unmarked. He skipped past a couple of challenges before firing a shot past the keeper to double the lead.

Then 10 minutes after opening the scoring, Cubillas scored his second to make the game safe. Sotil was played in with another slide-rule pass. He turned the defender then laid it off for Cubillas who fired it in first time from the edge of the area. Three goals in 10 minutes and Peru had got one foot in the knockout round.

Morocco were well beaten. They’d been unlucky against the West Germans and had held Peru at bay for over an hour. But in the end they just couldn’t compete. Ghandi explained in Andrew Downie’s book;

“Peru had an earthquake in their country and their players initially decided to leave the tournament and return home. This would have meant that we would have been awarded the match. Our coach gave us a break from training but the Peruvians decided they would play after all. We had a day off from training and lost the psychological edge. The team lost focus and were completely thrown off balance.”

Chumpitaz expressed what it meant to him and the players;

“After all that had happened, and because we had never played in a World Cup before, the joy of singing the national anthem was fabulous. Because of that and because of the earthquake in Huaraz, I cried some tears. It was very emotional.”

Join us tomorrow for the biggest clash of the tournament so far…