Historic Matches – Italy 4 West Germany 3 (Mexico ’70)

Italy and West Germany line up before their semi final in 1970. Picture courtesy of CricketSoccer

This ‘Historic Match’ was between West Germany and Italy in the 1970 World Cup Semi Final in Mexico. It is known as ‘The Game of the Century’ and is widely considered one of the greatest World Cup matches of all time.

The match really came to life in Extra Time. It was only then that the 102,444 fans in the Azteca Stadium were treated to a great footballing spectacle, with five goals scored in a frantic half-hour. This is the record amount of goals scored in Extra Time in a World Cup match.

Roberto Boninsegna opened the scoring after eight minutes, hitting a shot from 20 yards after getting a bit of luck when the ball bounced into his path after hitting a West German defender.

West Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer disclocated his shoulder late in the second half, but decided to play on as the Germans had used both of their allocated substitutes. The legendary defender put his arm in a sling and played out the rest of the match!

Italy held on to their narrow lead until deep into injury time, when blonde defender Karl-Heinz Schnellinger latched on to a cross from Jurgen Grabowski. Schnellinger was left completely unmarked in the middle of the penalty area and side-footed the ball past Italian goalkeeper Enrico Albertosi.

The first half of Extra Time saw three goals go in. Gerd Muller put West Germany ahead for the only time of the match after 94 minutes, prodding the ball slowly over the line after confusion between Fabrizio Poletti and Albertosi.
Tarcisio Burgnich smashed in Italy’s equaliser four minutes later from close range after West Germany didn’t clear their lines from a free-kick. Gigi Riva then gave Italy the lead a minute before half time after turning past defender Bernd Patzke and firing across Sepp Maier into the far corner.

In the second period of Extra Time, Gerd Muller scored his second of the match with a diving header in the six yard box to level the scores at 3-3.
Just 21 seconds after the restart, Gianni Rivera hit a low shot into the back of the net from 12 yards for the seventh, and final goal of an exhilarating match.

Italy faced Brazil in the Final and lost 4-1. Fans of The Azzurri would have to wait until 1982 until they reached their next World Cup Final. They would go one better than in Mexico and won that Final 3-1. Their opponents? West Germany, of course!

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