Monday 5th July 1982
GROUP C, Estadio Sarria, Barcelona. (17:15)
BRAZIL (1) 2 (Socrates 12, Falcao 68)
ITALY (2) 3 (Rossi 5, 25, 75)
Brazil: Waldir; Leandro, Luizinho, Oscar, Junior; Socrates, Cerezo, Falcao, Eder; Zico, Serginho (Paulo Isidoro)
Italy: Zoff; Gentile, Scirea, Collovati (Bergomi), Cabrini; Tardelli (Marini), Oriali, Antognoni; Conti, Rossi, Graziani
Some have called this the ‘game of the century’, others the ‘greatest game in World Cup history’. Whichever, this match had repercussions for both sides for years to come, and is often referred to for many future tournaments. Brazil had been playing some of the finest football seen at a World Cup, certainly on a par with the 1970 team. Italy, had been abysmal for the first three matches yet had put together a cohesive performance to stun Argentina the week before. Brazil had eased past the same opponents to leave them simply needing a draw to go through to the Semi-Finals. They already knew they would be playing Poland if they did.
Five minutes into the game, Tardelli played a cross-field pass to bring Cabrini into play on the left and his curling cross into the area was met by the head of Paolo Rossi. Rossi had left his marker and had a free header and remarkably the Italians were 1-0 up. It was redemption for Italy’s star striker who had looked horribly off the pace up to now. In fact just a few minutes earlier the ball came to him on the edge of the area. But his embarrassing air-shot was simply shrugged off by the fans watching. So much had they become used to this over the past few weeks. Within minutes Brazil came forward and Socrates played Serginho in, and after the ball bobbled around, the Brazilian no. 9 found himself free just inside the area. But he scuffed his shot wide, when he really should’ve left it for Zico. Brazil kept on and Socrates in midfield found Zico, who turned his man superbly. He played Socrates in, as the captain had continued his run. Socrates had one touch and as he reached the right-hand edge of the six-yard box he beat Dino Zoff at his near post for a beautiful goal. 1-1. The move was clinical in its simplicity and showed the effectiveness of the threat the Brazilians posed.
But if that goal summed up the attacking instincts of this team, the goal on twenty five minutes summed up their vulnerability in defence. Waldir threw the ball out to Leandro on the right and he played it across the back to Cerezo, who in turn played it to his left without looking. Rossi intercepted the pass, strode on to the edge of the area and then fired a shot past Waldir to put Italy back in front. 2-1.
It had been a blistering first half, yet Brazil still carried the menace of being able to score at will. Early in the second period, Falcao played a one-two with Junior yet put his shot just wide of the far post. Brazil were rampant now as Cerezo was put through by Zico only to see Zoff come quickly off his line to clear. Serginho tried to backheel from close range but Zoff was again in the way. Italy went straight up the other end and Graziani found Rossi free in the area, but the no. 20 miscued his shot wide from just eight yards out. Then on sixty eight minutes Brazil started another attack down the left with Junior, who cut inside and found Falcao on the right-hand edge of the area. Falcao waited for Cerezo to make a run outside him, taking the defence with him, he turned back onto his left foot and fired an unstoppable shot past Zoff. 2-2.
Brazil were now in pole position, but with fifteen minutes to go Conti took a corner on the right for Italy. He swung it in left-footed to the edge of the area, where Bergomi won a header. The ball dropped to Tardelli whose shot was turned in at the far post by Rossi for his hat-trick. It had been an amazing return for Rossi, having spent two years out through match-fixing allegations and looked horribly out of form in the group matches. Yet now he had scored a famous hat-trick against one of the best sides to grace the world game. 3-2.
Antognoni then had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside. Almost immediately, Brazil had a free-kick just outside Italy’s area on the left, which Eder took and floated it in where Oscar got up first to head the ball down. Zoff just got his hands to it to save it on the line. Things were frantic now as Brazil pushed for that all important equaliser. In the end they were unable to break through and, against all the odds, Italy had won to make it through to the Semi-Final. For Brazil, they’d left the 1982 World Cup with memories of some gorgeous football, and had given the world a great match despite ultimately it ending in disappointment.
GROUP B, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid. (21:00)
SPAIN (0) 0
ENGLAND (0) 0
Spain: Arconada; Camacho, Alexanco, Tendillo (Maceda), Gordillo; Alonso, Urquiaga, Zamora, Saura (Uralde); Satrustegui, Santillana
England: Shilton; Mills, Thompson, Butcher, Sansom; Robson, Wilkins, Rix (Brooking); Francis, Mariner, Woodcock (Keegan)
After the thrills of the earlier match, attention now turned to the final match of the second phase. England needed to beat Spain by two goals to go through to their first Semi-Final since they won the trophy in 1966. Spain, the hosts, were already out and had little except pride, to play for. England manager, Ron Greenwood, had decided to keep Keegan and Brooking on the bench, despite both maintaining they were fit. In the qualifiers, England had never lost when both were on the pitch.
Alonso scared England early on when firing just wide. Woodcock then did the same for England before Mills drove a shot over after a free-kick in a promising position. Another free-kick and another attempt to fool the opposition found Kenny Sansom firing his shot just over. England were now the more inventive as Robson had a couple of headers go just wide. As they pushed forward, England were caught at the back when Santillana inexplicably failed to put the ball in from a few yards out as it trickled wide. Arconada then started to make some important saves which further thwarted England. Woodcock went close, Mariner went close but still the goal wouldn’t come.
In the second half, Satrustegui created a chance for Alonso who once again shot wide. Wilkins then dragged a shot wide from outside the area. Then on sixty-four minutes, Greenwood shuffled his pack and brought on both Brooking and Keegan. Brooking was soon involved in the build-up as Mills crossed for Robson to head just wide. Brooking then had a chance on the right of the area where he cut inside but found Arconada again in the way. The clock was ticking and England still needed to score twice. Mariner played Robson in on the left of the area and his ball to the far post found Keegan in space, but he couldn’t hit the target as his header went agonisingly wide with the keeper beaten.
The game ended goalless with England ruing many missed opportunities and the fact they left the tournament unbeaten, provided little comfort. West Germany had won the group to go through to meet France in the Semi-Finals.
So we had our four Semi-Finalists and it would be an all-European affair. This despite FIFA expanding the tournament to offer more qualifying places to elsewhere in the world. No Brazil, no Argentina, no Spain, no England.
Italy were up against Poland. The two sides had met in the first round and were both unbeaten. West Germany would meet France. Both these sides lost their opening matches, but improved as the tournament wore on and probably deserved to be at this stage. France certainly looked the more attractive of the quartet.
For Brazil, they’d won every game except the one that mattered. England went out despite never being beaten. Belgium began well and finished poorly. The Irish couldn’t progress yet still had their win against the hosts to remember. As for the hosts, they were poor in almost every match. It was yet another tournament where they came into it with some good players, but ultimately didn’t have the confidence or cohesion to progress.