Sunday 4th July 1982
GROUP D, Estadio Vicente Calderon, Madrid. (17:15)
FRANCE (1) 4 (Giresse 33, 80, Rocheteau 47, 68)
NORTHERN IRELAND (0) 1 (Armstrong 75)
France: Ettori; Amoros, Janvion, Tresor, Bossis; Genghini, Tigana, Platini, Giresse; Rocheteau (Couriol), Soler (Six)
Northern Ireland: Jennings; J. Nicholl, C. Nicholl, McClelland, Donaghy; M. O’Neill, McCreery (J. O’Neill), McIlroy; Hamilton, Armstrong, Whiteside (Brotherston)
You could call this a sort of Quarter-Final, although a draw would be enough for France. The French were now playing some of the best football of the tournament, after losing their opening game to England. They put the Irish under pressure from the first whistle and should’ve made more of the chances they had. But a fit again Pat Jennings was in fine form, saving from both Platini and Rocheteau. Then some great skill on the right from Whiteside found O’Neill who played a one-two with Armstrong. He fired past Ettori, only to find the linesman had his flag up. Replays seemed to suggest the Irish captain had good reason to be disappointed with that decision. Just after the half-hour and a wonderful run from Platini saw him beat two to the get to the bye-line and cut it back where Giresse was unmarked. The little cultured midfielder from Bordeaux, took a touch and then shot past Jennings for the opening goal. It was no more than the French deserved.
At the beginning of the second half, Tresor found Rocheteau on the left wing just inside his own half. A brilliant turn took out Jimmy Nicholl and the Frenchman was away and running at Chris Nicholl. As he reached the edge of the area he switched from his right to his left and fired a low shot which beat Jennings on his near post. Rocheteau could’ve had a couple more before a free-kick wide on the left was passed short to curly-haired striker and he showed a delicate touch to switch from right foot to left then back to right as he shot past Jennings to effectively put the game out of reach for the Irish. With fifteen minutes to play, Armstrong found Whiteside on the left and a great piece of wing-play saw the United forward beat Amoros and cross to the far post where Ettori flapped at the ball and Armstrong pounced for a consolation goal.
As the Irish poured forward in search of a miracle the French were able to pick them off with the counter-attack. With ten minutes to go, Giresse found Tigana wide on the right and his first-time cross was met excellently by the head of Giresse and the French were through. For the Irish, it had been a fairytale which ultimately did not have a happy ending. But they had made an impression. They had given everyone some wonderful memories.
GROUP A, Estadio Nou Camp, Barcelona. (21:00)
USSR (0) 0
POLAND (0) 0
USSR: Dasaev; Sulakvelidze, Borovsky, Baltacha, Demianenko, Chivadze; Oganesian, Gavrilov (Daraselia), Bessonov; Shengelia (Andreyev), Blokhin
Poland: Mlynarczyk; Dziuba, Janas, Zmuda, Kupcewicz (Ciolek); Matysik, Majewski, Buncol, Boniek; Lato, Smolarek
As with the earlier game, you could consider this a Quarter-Final as the winner would go through, although Poland had the added advantage of knowing a draw would be enough for them. The Soviets had the best of the opening exchanges with Sulakvelidze firing over when arriving late to get on the end of Oganesian’s cross. In the second half, 20-year-old Waldemar Matysik produced a great run through the centre, but unfortunately ,as he reached the penalty area he poked his shot straight at Dasaev. Boniek was again missing for much of the game but came into things late on, but you always felt the Poles would have more motivation to score if the USSR did.
As the game reached a conclusion, the Soviets threw everyone forward desperate to get the goal which would see them go through. This gave Smolarek the opportunity tohit them on the break but his shot went just wide and in the end, the game was drawn and Poland were through. Much like France, they’d started the competition in poor form, but had come good when it mattered. Poland had realised the fault in this format. They won ‘big’ against Belgium. Then gambled on the Soviet’s being too cautious to really go for it themselves.
So with Poland and France going through to the Semis, tomorrow we’d find out who would join them. The big one in the afternoon, Brazil v Italy. Then England v Spain!