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1970 World Cup - Mexico

By Mark Buckingham

Brazil celebrate the rebirth of the beautiful game
Brazil celebrate the rebirth of the beautiful game

Did you know?

  • Yellow cards and substitutions were introduced to the World Cup finals for the first time.
  • Jairzinho became the only player to score in every round of the competition.

The 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico are noted in football's annals as the best in the tournament's history as Brazil won the Jules Rimet Trophy for keeps.

It had been decreed since 1930 that the first country to win the World Cup three times would permanently retain the Jules Rimet Trophy and it was fitting that the final was between dual winners Brazil and Italy.

Mexico were a contentious choice to host the tournament due to concerns about the altitude and some kick-off times being in the middle of the day to suit television schedules.

But Mexico City had staged the 1968 Olympic Games and these worries were quickly cast aside once the tournament started to produce a fitting spectacle.

England, as holders, qualified automatically and they were once again left to fly the Home Nations flag, although big names like Spain and France missed out.

El Salvador's qualifying play-off win over Honduras was the spark for a Civil War between the two countries, while their first round meeting with Mexico was bizarre for the hosts grabbing the lead when they took a free kick which had been awarded to their opponents.

Mexico qualified from Group 1 as runners-up behind the Soviet Union, who had opened the tournament against the home team with a 0-0 draw.

In Group 2, Italy scored just once in three games, but still topped the section as Uruguay pipped Sweden and Israel to second.

Group 3 was the most eagerly awaited as England were drawn alongside Brazil, with those two finishing ahead of Romania and Czechoslovakia.

The meeting between England and Brazil was a World Cup classic settled by Jairzinho's goal, also witnessing a magnificent save from Gordon Banks, and a touching embrace between Pele and Bobby Moore at the final whistle.

Prior to the tournament, Moore had been arrested on suspicion of theft in Colombia, while Pele's glorious skill illuminated the competition.

West Germany, led by Franz Beckenbauer and propelled by the goals of Gerd Muller, won all three games in Group 4, with Peru taking the runners-up spot.

The quarter finals were all played on the same day, with Uruguay beating the Soviet Union in extra time and Italy, inspired by the half time introduction of Gianni Rivera, thrashing Mexico 4-1.

Brazil beat Peru 4-2, while England threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 in extra time against a revenge seeking West Germany.

Pele's genius was not rewarded with a goal in Brazil's 3-1 semi-final victory over Uruguay, while Beckenbauer finished the game with his arm strapped to his side as West Germany were sunk 4-3 by Italy in a see-saw encounter.

And so, the final pitted two-time winners Brazil and Italy against each other, with the Jules Rimet Trophy up for grabs.

After a goal apiece in the first half, Brazil were awesome in the second as Jairzinho became the first player to score in every game, including the final, before Carlos Alberto rounded off the 4-1 success with a truly outstanding goal.

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