REVISITING A CLASSIC – ARGENTINA V ENGLAND FROM 1982 FIFA WORLD CUP
World of football has witnessed a lot of classics. These are generally the summit clashes. Seldom has a quarter-final remained in memory for years. The FIFA World Cup 1986 saw such battle. England and Argentina faced each other on 22nd June at the Estadio Azteca.
The first half remained goalless amid scorching hot conditions in the Mexican capital. In the second half, both teams ignited attacks from the beginning. In the 51st minute, Diego Armando Maradona took the ball and passed it to Jorge Valdano. Maradonna then made a quick run inside the box. Meanwhile, the ball skipped past Valdano’s foot. Hodge could not clear it and hooked it into his penalty area. Diego was now ready to cash the opportunity. Maradona and English goalkeeper Peter Shilton jumped in unison for the ball.
Peter’s right hand went in the air. Maradona stretched his left arm when he was in the air. Argentine was first to touch the ball with his outstretched hand. Maradona punched it. It dropped and rolled inside the goal. Referee Ali Bin Nasser of Tunisia allowed the goal.
No official on the pitch noticed the notorious act. Argentines started celebrating. English players appealed. It went in vain. Later in an interview, Maradona confessed his misdeed. He revealed that he urged his teammates to join his celebration. He feared that referee might disallow the goal.
Just after four minutes, the world witnessed the goal of a genius. Argentine midfielder Hector Enrique sent the ball to Diego inside their half. Maradona began his 60-yard solo dash. In his 10 seconds spellbound display, the legend went past four English players. These were Peter Reid, Peter Beardsley, Terry Butcher (twice), and Terry Fenwick. He finished the move dribbling left to legendary goalkeeper Peter Shilton. He slotted the ball inside the net. Argentina was 2-0 up.
In Spanish speaking countries, the commentary of Uruguayan journalist Victor Hugo Morales is considered immortal. Many people can still recite it word by word. In 2002 FIFA declared it as the ‘Goal of the century.’
English team made some attacking substitutions. Gary Linekar reduced the margin from Barnes cross 9 minutes from time. It was Linekar’s sixth goal of the edition. He ended as the top scorer of the tournament. Matters remained the same till the end and South Americans prevailed 2-1 over their European foes.
Argentina continued their sensational run. They lifted the trophy after defeating West Germany 3-2 in the final.
Four years later, West Germany took revenge. La Albiceleste would finish as runners up and the three lions came fourth in Italy.
The match had an ugly back script. In 1982, Argentina sent troops to capture Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas in Argentina) in the South Atlantic. Britain considered it as the intrusion on its archipelago. They send troops and recaptured its overseas territory. The battle saw 655 Argentine and 258 British casualties.
In an interview, Maradona declared the win as revenge. Humbly he admitted noble behavior of English players for his second goal.
Before the game, fans of both Argentina and England fought on the streets of Mexico City. Several of English fans were hospitalized by ‘Barrabravas’ (fanatic Latin American fans in Spanish). England’s flags were stolen and would exhibit by Boca Juniors supporters still in the Argentine league.
On 17th August 2015, Maradona visited Ali Bin Nasser’s home in Tunisia. He handed him an Argentine Jersey bearing his signature. Maradona referred referee of that game as ‘My Eternal Friend.’
The game between Argentina and England is one of the most controversial and famous matches in the history of football. The main reason for its wide popularity is both the goals scored by Diego Maradona. One is the epitome of cheating and the other is the masterpiece of a genius.
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