86: The best teams' worst shootout ever

There are games of great technical merit, there are games of high drama, and very occasionally, there are games that have both. This was one of them...

It brought some redress from the fates to France for their semi-final defeat to West Germany four years earlier. Then, they had suffered a heinous foul by a goalkeeper and had been eliminated in the a penalty shootout; here they again suffered a dreadful unpunished foul by a goalkeeper, and were taken to another penalty shootout, but this time went through.

Brazil were ageing, but had come through their group with a 100 per cent record and without conceding a goal, before thrashing Poland 4-0 in the second round (albeit after the Poles had twice struck the woodwork).

France, the European champions, had pursued a similar course, efficient rather than spectacular in the groups before beating Italy 2-0 in the second round. In Guadalajara they produced what Hugh McIlvanney called in The Observer, "perhaps the most extraordinary contest in the entire history of the World Cup".

It was Brazil who struck first as Muller twice exchanged passes with Junior, who switched the ball inside for Careca to sweep over Joel Bats. Soon after, Careca rounded Bats and cut the ball back, only for Muller to hit the post.

The suspicion was that France were struggling to deal with the heat, but gradually, they too began to flow. Four minutes before half-time, Alain Giresse released Dominique Rocheteau on the right. His deflected cross eluded Yannick Stopyra, but Michel Platini was at the back post to celebrate his 31st birthday with a World Cup goal, just as he had celebrated his 27th by scoring against Kuwait.

Socrates trudges away after missing

Careca headed against the bar, Stopyra and Jean Tigana both wasted one-on-ones, and then, with 73 minutes played, Zico, who had come off the bench only two minutes earlier, set Branco free. He tumbled over Bats' challenge, then celebrated prematurely as the referee awarded a penalty.

Against Peru in 1978, Zico had converted a penalty shortly after coming off the bench, but this time his kick was weak, and Bats saved comfortably. It was a foretaste of heroics to come, but first there came the moment that cast French minds back to Seville four years earlier.

Bruno Bellone, a substitute as Battiston had been, was sent through by Platini. Carlos came careering from his goal and, with two hands, grabbed Bellone. It was a clear and cynical foul, but Igna waved play on. Brazil broke, Careca crossed, and Socrates somehow missed what was effectively an open goal.

"We all thought back to 1982," said full-back Manuel Amoros. "But you play on, try to make it different this time."

Penalties again. Bats, leaping to his right, saved superbly from Socrates – but then West Germany had missed first in Seville. Bellone hit the post, the ball bounced back, hit Carlos and went in; it shouldn't have counted, but it did.

Luck was with France, but then Platini, the dead-ball specialist, scooped his kick over the bar; the sense of deja vu was overpowering.

"I couldn't believe that Platini, of all people, had missed," said coach Henri Michel. Julio Cesar then hit the post, leaving Luis Fernandez to convert and send France to another semi-final.

The demon of West Germany, though, couldn't be slain, and they lost 2-0.

Match-winner Fernandez gets a hug from Platini


SHARES
comments