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.
Wednesday 10th June 1970
Three days off from the second round of matches and we now reached the conclusion of the group stages. Only the Group Four qualifiers were known, but we didn’t know who would top the group so the shootout between West Germany and Peru was going to be fascinating.
This was 12 years before West Germany and Austria conspired to exploit the loophole in the scheduling so the final matches in each group were played on different days.
It’s also important to remember back in those days all the matches kicked off at the same time each day. None of this staggering the schedules to satisfy the watching public.
Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, 89,979
USSR (0) 2 (Byshovets 51, 74)
EL SALVADOR (0) 0
USSR: Kavazashvili; Afonin, Shesternyov, Dzodzuashvili, Khurtsilava; Serebryanikov, Muntyan, Kiselyov (Asatiani); Byshovets, Puzach (Yevriuzhikin), Khmelnytskyi
EL SALVADOR: Magaña; Rivas, Mariona, Osorio, Castro; Monge, Portillo, Vásquez, Cabezas (Aparicio); Rodriguez (Sermeño), Méndez
In the hosts’ group USSR and El Salvador took the pitch at the Azteca. El Salvador were already out but the Soviets could top the group with a win. If they won by a decent margin they could force Mexico to move to Toluca for the knockout stages. That’s assuming they beat Belgium the next day.
Soviet coach, Gavril Kachalin made two changes from the team which beat Belgium. Both were players who’d played in the opening game. Kachalin had been in charge of the side since 1956 when he led the team to the Olympic Gold Medal. He also oversaw their Euro ’60 triumph and this was the third World Cup he’d managed.
The Soviets were unbeaten in their last thirteen matches and largely approached this game in the manner of a team very difficult to beat.
They kept the Central Americans at arm’s length like a boxer just letting their opponent wear themselves out.
Six minutes into the second half they pounced. Five of the team played their club football at Dinamo Kyiv, and two of them combined to give them the lead.
Vladimir Muntyan picked up the ball in the centre circle and just waited for Anatoliy Byshovets to make a run as he did for Kiev. He played him in and the striker took one touch before firing a shot passed Magaña.
Byshovets scored twice against the Belgians and with 16 minutes to go in this one, he repeated the feat. Muntyan was again the provider. He skipped past a couple of challenges in midfield before playing Byshovets in. Again the striker took one touch and with his right foot, this time, passed it to the same side to put them 2-0 up.
If you want an idea of the finish think Lineker or Butragueño.
It was the USSR’s 14th match unbeaten and 14 was Byshovets’ tally for his country. The game was also a personal triumph for the Soviet skipper, Albert Shesternyov whose 77 caps made him his country’s most capped player.
The Soviets had done as much as they could, and it was now over to the hosts. Mexico needed to win by a couple of goals to top the group and ensure they stayed at the Azteca. But Belgium could knock them out with a win.
10th June Mexico v Belgium
Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Puebla, 18,163
SWEDEN (0) 1 (Grahn 90)
URUGUAY (0) 0
SWEDEN: SG Larsson; Selander, Axelsson, Nordqvist, Grip; Svensson, B Larsson, Nicklasson (Grahn); Eriksson, Kindvall (Turesson), Persson
URUGUAY: Mazurkiewicz; Ubiña, Mujica, Castillo, Ancheta; Matosas, Espárrago (Fontes), Maneiro, Cortés; Zubia, Losada
This group had already seen the two favourites, Italy and Uruguay, emerge as the two expected to qualify. Sweden arrived in Puebla in a mess. There was anger back home after a goalkeeping error handed Italy a win in their first game. Then came a hugely disappointing draw with Israel. They hated their training camp and hotel and morale was not good.
They were up against Uruguay. Quarter-Finalists in England four years earlier and a year later they won the Copa America. Uruguay could afford to lose but only by a one goal margin.
There was controversy on the eve of the match as Brazilian referee, Airton Vieira de Moraes was removed at the last minute by FIFA. A press officer said;
“Because of very malicious rumours that were circulating in Puebla and also Mexico City, it was decided that he should be removed from the game.”
The rumours were there had been ‘an intention to bribe’ the official. Something Moraes denied. Instead of taking charge of this game, he ran the line in the Azteca in the USSR v El Salvador game.
The Swedes pressed from the start and there was controversy in the first half. Ove Kindvall put the ball in the net but American referee, Henry Landauer had already blown for an infringement. The Swedes were incensed but Landauer was having none of it.
As the game moved towards a conclusion the Swedes became more desperate but also more despondent. With six minutes to go Orvar Bergmark threw on Ove Grahn for Göran Nicklasson. Grahn was one of five players in the side plying their trade outside Sweden. He was playing in Switzerland with Grasshoppers.
Finally into the last minute of normal time a ball into the box found Grahn in between two defenders. His header flew in past Mazurkiewicz, as he became the first man to beat the Uruguay keeper in the tournament.
All of a sudden, for a brief moment the reality of the situation dawned on both teams. If Sweden scored a second they would qualify for the knockout stages at the expense of Uruguay.
There wasn’t enough time for Uruguay to come back, but crucially there wasn’t enough time for Sweden to score a second.
It was a result which left both sides disappointed. Uruguay fans couldn’t believe their team had lost to Sweden. Swedish fans and players couldn’t believe they hadn’t pushed forward more to get that extra goal which would’ve sent them through. It had been a really frustrating tournament for the Swedes, both on and off the pitch. Uruguay now waited to see whether they’d finish top of the group and move to Toluca. Second place would mean a trip to the Azteca.
11th June Italy v Israel
Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara, 50,804
BRAZIL (2) 3 (Pelé 19, 67, Jairzinho 22)
ROMANIA (1) 2 (Dumitrache 34, Dembrovschi 84)
BRAZIL: Félix; Carlos Alberto, Brito, Fontana, Everaldo (Marco Antonio); Jairzinho, Clodoaldo (Edu), Piazza, Paulo Cézar; Pelé, Tostão
ROMANIA: Adamache (Rãducanu); Sãtmãreanu, Lupescu, Dinu, Mocanu; Dumitru, Nunweiller; Neagu, Dembrovschi, Dumitrache (Tãtaru), Lucescu
The world was still talking about the Brazil v England game from Sunday, and with Brazil taking the two points it gave them some comfort for their final group match. Romania had given themselves a shout of going through having beaten the Czechs, but they would have to do something the world champions hadn’t managed & beat Brazil.
Rivellino was rested for this one as Gerson was still recovering from a thigh injury. Fontana came into defence with Piazza moving into midfield.
Brazil began in determined mood and seemed intent on trying to outdo each other with the range of their shooting. Paulo Cézar hit the bar from a tight angle, Everaldo the post from about 30 yards out.
Then Pelé was kicked from behind just outside the ‘d’. In Rivellino’s absence, he took it upon himself to take the free-kick. He hit it with such ferocity it was amazing it didn’t go right through the net.
Three minutes later they were two up. Paulo Cézar got to the bye-line in the area and his cross was turned it at the near post by Jairzinho for his fourth of the tournament.
With substitutions being used for the first time in this competition, there had been a number of firsts. The first sub, the first sub-subbed and then we had the first substitute goalkeeper. Rãducanu had been dropped for ill-discipline so he’d had to wait until 28 minutes into their last game to get on the pitch.
It’s not often a change of keeper galvanises a side but it did for this Romania team. Dumitrache slid in through a crowd of players to get them a goal back. They were growing in confidence by now. But went in 1-2 down at the break.
Just on the hour, Pelé had the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled out for a push on the defender. But they didn’t have to wait long for the third to come. Tostão flicked the ball on at the near post and Pelé stabbed it in from six yards.
Within 60 seconds it looked as if Romania had reduced the deficit again. Neagu was causing problems around the edge of the area, and Piazza’s poor clearance fell kindly for Dembrovski. He thundered a first time shot which looked like it had gone in, but instead it hit the stanchion at the back of the goal.
Gheorghe Tãtaru replaced Dumitrache and he was very active as soon as he got on. He brought out a good save from Félix, had a shot go just over the bar and then provided the ball into the box for their second goal. Dembrovski exposed the weakness at the heart of the Brazilian defence by heading in unmarked from close range.
Suddenly the Brazilians looked vulnerable. They hung on and right on the final whistle Tostão missed a glorious chance for their fourth. Brazil had won the group with 100% record. They were looking exciting in attack but there were signs of vulnerability in their defence.
Romania had to hope Czechoslovakia beat England two goals the next day and they would make it to the knockout stages. But a draw and England would be through.
11th June England v Czechoslovakia
Estadio Nou Camp, León, 17,875
WEST GERMANY (3) 3 (Müller 19, 26, 39)
PERU (1) 1 (Cubillas 44)
WEST GERMANY: Maier; Vogts, Schnellinger, Fichtel, Höttges (Patzke); Beckenbauer, Overath; Libuda (Grabowski), Seeler, Müller, Löhr
PERU: Rubiños; González, de la Torre, Chumpitaz, Fuentes; Mifflin, Challe (Cruzado); Sotil, León (Ramirez), Gallardo, Cubillas
We knew who the qualifiers were to be from Group Four, we just didn’t know who would win the group, and stay in León and who would travel to Guadalajara.
Peru had won the hearts of the public not only for the football they’d played, but also for the stress they must’ve been under knowing so many people back home had perished in an earthquake.
West Germany had been poor against Morocco but clinical against Bulgaria.
Both teams were unchanged for this crucial encounter. After Brazil beat England on Sunday, it was fairly obvious they would win their group and await whoever finished second in this one. The Germans were so desperate to avoid them they went off like a rocket.
Libuda, who took Bulgaria apart on Sunday, was again a thorn in the opponents’ side. His cross in the 19th minute was stabbed home by Gerd Müller. It was his fifth of the tournament.
Just seven minutes later Löhr did the same from the left wing and Müller had his second. They were rampant.
With half-time looming, Seeler went on a run down the right and crossed high to the far post. Müller was there to loop his header over Rubiños and into the net. It was his second hat-trick in successive matches and now he had seven for the tournament. It was his fourth hat-trick in a West German shirt, giving him 24 goals in just 22 appearances.
The Germans had the lead they wanted. Then right on half-time de la Torre went on a run from the back and as he reached the edge of the area, Schnellinger brought him down. The referee awarded a free-kick. Cubillas took it, it took a deflection and gave Maier no chance.
Suddenly the Germans had something to worry about. In the second half Peru came at them as they had against Bulgaria in their first match, but just couldn’t add to their tally.
In the end the Germans did what they’d turned up to do. They had three wins from three and they could stay in León where they were comfortable.
Once they reached the dressing room, news filtered through of Brazil’s win and so the Germans knew they had avoided Brazil. But then the reality hit them they’d have to get passed the defending champions instead.
For Peru they were happy they’d reached the knockout but had the prospect of having to take on the favourites, Brazil.
11th June Bulgaria v Morocco
Join us tomorrow to see if England can qualify…