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The World Cup had got off to a slow start, but exploded into life with Hungary hitting ten.. Scotland had seen off the potentially tricky New Zealand. Now we had three big nations on show. The West Germans, up against new boys, Algeria. England and France battling it out for control of Group Four. Then the hosts, Spain would take their bow in the evening. Another of the new boys, Honduras, were their opponents. The nation awaited, nervously.

DAY FOUR

Wednesday 16th June 1982

GROUP TWO, Estadio El Molinon, Gijon. (17:15)

ALGERIA   (0)   2   (Madjer 54, Belloumi 69)

WEST GERMANY   (0)   1   (Rummenigge 68)

Algeria: Cerbah; Guendouz, Merzekane, Mansouri, Kourichi; Fergani, Belloumi, Dahleb; Assad, Madjer (Larbes), Zidane (Bensaoula)

West Germany: Schumacher; Kaltz, K-H. Forster, Stielike, Briegel; Littbarski, Dremmler, Breitner, Magath (Fischer); Rummenigge, Hrubesch

Algeria were making their debut appearance in the finals and their first task was up against the mighty Germans. West Germany were reigning European Champions, with the pedigree of having been World and European Champions in the mid-70’s. This game was definitely a case of the Germans underestimating their opponents as they had done four years previously when Tunisia held them to a 0-0 draw in Cordoba. The Germans were so confident, they had already predicted scoring so many goals. They were dedicating them to their gran, their next-door neighbour and various pets. After a goalless first half, the Africans grew in confidence and within 10 minutes of the turnaround, had gone in front. They broke quickly from the back when Zidane slid a ball through to Belloumi, whose shot was partially stopped by Schumacher, and bounced kindly for Madjer to hook it over the line for the opening goal.

But the Germans didn’t panic and gradually regained control.  In the 68th minute, Felix Magath attacked down the left and his ball into the 6-yard box was turned in by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. But if it was expected for the Germans to run riot, the Algerians hadn’t read the script. Almost from the re-start Salah Assad was put away down the left and his low cross was turned in by Belloumi. The crowd, and the Algerians, went mad. They’d pulled off the shock of the tournament, to outdo the Belgians on the first day.


 

GROUP FOUR, Estadio San Mames, Bilbao. (17:15)

ENGLAND   (1)   3   (Robson 1, 67, Mariner 83)

FRANCE   (1)   1   (Soler 24)

England: Shilton; Mills, Thompson, Butcher, Sansom (Neal); Coppell, Robson, Wilkins, Rix; Francis, Mariner

France: Ettori; Bossis, Tresor, Lopez, Battiston; Larios (Tigana), Girard, Platini, Giresse; Soler, Rocheteau (Six)

Both these countries only just qualified for this tournament, and for England it was their first appearance at the finals since they were defending champions in 1970. They couldn’t have asked for a better start when Bryan Robson scored the fastest goal in World Cup history at the time, when he ran onto Butcher’s near post flick, to hook the ball past Ettori. For many of us kids who were still at school, we missed the goal as we were making our way home thinking nothing would happen in first couple of minutes.

The French were stunned, but gradually came back into it. England were without their two star players, Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking and England’s midfield struggled to deal with Platini, Giresse and Larios. It was Larios who provided the ball over the top of the defence for Soler to fire a left foot shot past Shilton to equalise in the 24th minute. Level at half-time, the two teams appeared well matched as Platini tried his luck with a couple of free-kicks and Francis, Coppell and Wilkins went close for England. But then midway through the second period, Francis crossed from the right and Robson again arrived late and unmarked to head past Ettori for his, and his team’s 2nd goal.

This time the French didn’t come back and with seven minutes to go Francis shot was half-stopped by Tresor but fell kindly for Paul Mariner, and he fired in England’s third, for a wonderful start to the tournament.


 

GROUP FIVE, Estadio Luis Casanova, Valencia. (21:00)

SPAIN   (0)   1   (Lopez-Ufarte, pen 65)

HONDURAS   (1)   1   (Zelaya 7)

Spain: Arconada; Camacho, Tendillo, Alexanco, Gordillo; Alonso, Joaquin (Sanchez), Zamora; Juanito (Saura), Satrustegui, Lopez-Ufarte

Honduras: Arzu; Gutierrez, Bulnes, Costly, Villegas; Maradiaga, Zelaya, Yearwood; Betancourt, Figueroa, Norales (Caballero)

That evening saw the first appearance of the hosts, as Spain took on Honduras in Valencia.  Honduras were playing their first ever World Cup match and were off to a tremendous start. The Spanish defence was caught asleep as Zelaya held off Tendillo and beat Arconada for an astonishing start after only seven minutes. The home crowd was shocked but determined to roar their team on.

Honduras still lead at half-time as Spain missed chance after chance, although they were denied several fouls as the referee seemed to have little sympathy for the hosts. It took until twenty minutes into the second half for Spain to finally get on level terms. Gordillo ran down the left and his cross saw Satrustegui brought down in the area and this time the referee gave the decision Spain’s way.  Lopez Ufarte stepped up and tucked it in the corner for the equaliser. The expected avalanche didn’t materialise from Spain as Honduras continued to offer a threat. In the end it was a poor result for the home side, under severe pressure, but they only had themselves to blame as they missed a whole host of chances. For Honduras they had matched Algeria for the result of the tournament so far.

After the goal-fest of yesterday, today was a day of shocks. First timers Algeria and Honduras had joined Cameroon in putting in great performances in their World Cup debuts.

Follow the rest of this series on @Taleof2_halves and my own twitter page @Irishpete67