Mexico 1986 World Cup

In 1986 for the second time in sixteen years FIFA awarded the World Cup to Mexico after a successful tournament in 1970. Originally Colombia were selected but had to withdraw from the right to host the finals due to a lack of funds. Mexico then beat off competition from the United States and Canada. Three teams Canada, Denmark and Iraq qualified for the first time. The format of the competition changed once again. The twenty four teams that qualified were split up into six groups of four from which the top two teams would qualify for the second round knock out phase along with the four best placed third placed teams.

Brazil was drawn in group D along with Spain, Northern Ireland and Algeria. As in Spain in 1982 Brazil, began the tournament in style by winning their opening three group games. In their opening game a solitary goal from “The Dr” Socrates, gave the South Americans a win over European power Spain. In their second match another victory by a goal to nil was enough to see the Brazilians past Algeria and put them in prime position to reach the second round. Despite winning their opening two matches, Brazil hadn’t found the style and panache that they were famous for but in the final game of the group the Brazilians found their flair and put three unanswered goals past Northern Ireland with goals from Careca (two) and Eloy to finish with a one hundred percent record.

In the other groups there were a couple of surprises. Morocco topped a group containing England, Poland and Portugal. Morocco drew their first two games and then defeated Portugal by three goals to one. England looked to be on their way out until a Gary Lineker hat trick in their final group game against Poland was enough to send all three teams through. Denmark, in their first ever World Cup, came through a group of death with an hundred percent record. The Danes beat Scotland in their opening match and then hammered two time winners Uruguay by six goals to one. In their final group game they toppled one of the tournament favourites West Germany two nil. A Diego Maradona led Argentina topped a group containing reigning champions Italy whilst France and the Soviet Union also were confirmed in the second round.

In the second round Brazil were drawn against Poland and having hit their stride in their final group game against Northern Ireland dispatched Poland by four goals to nil. At half time Brazil were one goal to the good after a Socrates penalty. In the second half, Brazil cut loose and were rampant scoring three times with goals from Josimar, Edinho and a final penalty from Careca rounding off the scoring.

In other second round matches Belgium and the Soviet Union fought out one of the all time World Cup classics. The score was tied at two goals a piece at full time after the USSR had twice gone in front only to be pegged back. In extra time, it was the Belgians who went ahead in the first period of extra time and then went two goals in front only for the Russians to peg them back a minute later with a goal from Belanov to complete his hat trick. Belgium managed to hold out until the final whistle to seal a memorable victory. England recorded their second successive three nil victory after two goals from Lineker and a third from Beardsley sent Paraguay back to South America. Surprise package Denmark took the lead against Spain, only to capitulate as they conceded four second half goals to be crushed five one by Spain. Spanish star Emiliano Butragueno scored four goals in the match. In other matches, Argentina, West Germany and host nation Mexico all progressed to the quarter finals and were joined by France who eliminated defending champions Italy by two goals to nil, with Platini and Stopyra.

In the quarter finals, three of the four fixtures were settled by way of a penalty shoot out. In the first quarter final, Brazil was teamed up against France, the conquerors of the previous winners Italy. Brazil took the lead after seventeen minutes with a goal from Careca, his fifth of the tournament, only for Platini to respond with an equalizer five minutes before half time. The scores remained tied after thirty minutes of extra time and the match went to penalties. Socrates missed the Brazilian’s first penalty and although Platini missed France’s fourth, Julio Cesar missed Brazil’s next penalty and Fernandez put France through in front of a crowd of 65,000 and send Brazil home early once again.

Elsewhere, West Germany beat the host nation Mexico, 4 – 1 on penalties after an one hundred and twenty minute stalemate and Belgium eliminated Spain five penalties to four after a one all draw after extra time. In the most captivating match, old rivals England and Argentina faced off. This match would become famous for two moments from Diego Maradona. The first was one of the most controversial goals in World Cup history as Maradona ran onto a failed England clearance and poked the ball past ‘keeper Peter Shilton with his fist. After the game he said it was “The Hand of God.” His second goal was as brilliant as the first was controversial. Picking the ball up inside his own half, the Argentine genius turned away from two English players and began a slalom ride through the heart of the England team leaving players floundering in his wake. As he burst into the penalty area he rounded goalkeeper Shilton and slotted the ball into an empty net under pressure from Terry Butcher. It was football at its very best and this World Cup saw Maradona single handedly carry the hopes of a nation as he inspired an average side to greatness. Gary Lineker added his sixth goal of the tournament, a figure that would win him the golden boot, to pull a goal back for England and then missed a great late chance that would have leveled the game and taken it into extra time.

In the semi finals, both games finished two goals to nil. West Germany beat France in their second successive World Cup semi final meeting. This game was far more routine that the match four years ago. Andy Brehme put the German’s a goal to the good within the first ten minutes. A tense eighty minutes followed and the game wasn’t finally resolved until Rudi Voller struck a eighty ninth minute second to put the two times champions through to their second successive final. In the other semifinal, a Diego Maradona inspired Argentina, put paid to Belgium as the diminutive number ten scored twice in the second half to set up a final meeting with the European powerhouses.

In the final an attendance of over 114,000 saw a classic match between two determined sides. Argentina took a single goal lead into half time thanks to an opener from Jose Brown. In the second half, Argentina extended their lead with a goal from Jorge Valdano. Germany struck back in the 74th minute and then leveled the scores at two apiece following strikes from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller. Maradona, however, wasn’t to be denied and laid on a beautiful pass for Jose Burruchaga to run onto and make it three and win Argentina their second crown in eight years.

Matches: 52
Goals: 132 (average 2.5 per match)
Attendance: 2 393 331 (average 46 025)
Golden Boot Winner: Gary Lineker (England) 6
Golden Ball Winner: Diego Maradona (Argentina)
Fair Play Award: Brazil

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