A selection of key games from perhaps the greatest ever international tournament
Qualifying group one: England 3-0 Czechoslovakia (October 1974)
New manager, new kit, new dawn. England were recovering from the monumental balls they’d made of qualifying for the 1974 World Cup, Poland, the clown Tomaszewski, Hunter’s non-tackle on the touchline, all that. In the interim, Alf Ramsey had been put out to pasture, and the caretaker Joe Mercer had taken the lads on a beano around eastern Europe. The avuncular Mercer restored spirit in the squad. The team, smiled Uncle Joe, were “happy and healthy”, save perhaps Kevin Keegan, who got himself beaten up by goons at Belgrade airport while sitting quietly on a luggage carousel. A nice earthenware coffee set, freshly purchased from the airport shop, was ground to dust in the melee. Still, Keegan’s wobbly bottom lip apart, England were in good spirits as they embarked on a new campaign.
Keegan had subsequently managed to get himself sent off in the Charity Shield for reacting to being harassed in playground style by Leeds United. However, his six-week FA suspension was up by the time England faced Czechoslovakia at Wembley in the first qualifier for the European Championships. It was Don Revie’s first match, too, though the new man didn’t do too much tinkering to the team bequeathed to him by Mercer. New cap Gerry Francis came in for Trevor Brooking and Dave Thomas would later make his debut from the bench – QPR 2 West Ham 0 – but that was that. The main changes were cosmetic, courtesy of Revie and Admiral; England ran out with tradition-tweaking blue and red stripes down the arms of their previously pristine white shirts. The Osmonds would have thought twice about the collars.
Czechoslovakia were clearly a disciplined and talented side. The right-back Ján Pivarník grazed the crossbar from the best part of 40 yards with a riser that had Ray Clemence puffing out his cheeks in ostentatious relief. And for 70 minutes, they held England, who had buzzed around entertainingly, Keegan, Mick Channon and Frank Worthington coming at the Czechoslovaks from all angles, Worthington hitting a post.
Then the dam burst and England scored three late crackers in a 12-minute flurry of creativity. Channon broke the deadlock, Paul Madeley taking a quick free-kick out on the right, Thomas whipping in a cross, the striker planting a header past a static keeper. It was the sort of goal Geoff Hurst had specialised in at the World Cup eight years earlier, not entirely dissimilar in style to his quarter-final winner against Argentina. The crowd struck up a chorus of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. The past is a foreign country, all right, and within its harmonious boundaries lay Merseyside. Good luck trying to get that one going in these more polarised times.
Channon – whose place had been questioned as he was plying his trade in the Second Division, Southampton having been relegated the previous season – proved a few more people wrong by following up his goal with an assist. He glided in from the left to roll an exquisite curling pass towards Colin Bell, who ran through a big hole in the centre created by Keegan’s dummy run and poked past Ivo Viktor into the bottom right. Finally Channon pitched a cross in from the left, allowing Bell to guide a header into the top right. A good team had been routed, and in some style too. It augured well for the championship.
Qualifying group one: Czechoslovakia 2-1 England (October 1975)
England didn’t take long to become a shadow of the team that sashayed their way past Czechoslovakia. So much for Revie’s honeymoon. A cynical Portugal ground out a goalless draw at Wembley against increasingly frantic and clueless hosts. Then there followed a couple of matches against a hilariously timid Cyprus, the first a one-sided rout against a team so bereft of ambition that they spent most of the match with all 11 players in or around their own penalty area. “Peter Shilton,” noted David Lacey in the Guardian, “could have demanded, reasonably, a brazier.”
England were far from impressive. A five-goal victory had been considered the bare minimum requirement before the match, in an era when minnows were routinely swallowed up by the bigger fish. And 5-0 was how it ended. Bog average. But the game was salvaged by the exploits of Malcolm Macdonald. The Newcastle striker scored all five, becoming the first England player to achieve that in a competitive game. Four headers and a shot, and he hit a post as well. Nobody’s matched it since.
England travelled to Limassol for the return fixture and scraped through 1-0 courtesy of an early Keegan goal. During the half-time break, England’s mascot, resplendent in a buffoon’s uniform of John Bull Union-Jack waistcoat, top hat and tails, disappeared under a shower of oranges dispatched by irate locals. But while those supporters were happy to play fast and loose with their vitamin intake, they were less blasé about the galoot who made a grand show of ripping up a Cypriot flag. England’s half-cut answer to Henry Kissinger was set upon in the old-fashioned style and had to be winched off to the nearest emergency ward by a helicopter which landed on the pitch.
England required a result against Czechoslovakia in Bratislava. A win would have seen them through to the quarter-finals but despite raising their game, it couldn’t be achieved. The Czechoslovaks were too good. England had taken the lead: Channon, released by Keegan down the inside-right channel and looking suspiciously offside, lobbed deliciously over Viktor and into the top-left corner. But Zdeněk Nehoda equalised on the stroke of half-time, and in the second half Marián Masný turned on the burners down the right to cut back for Dušan Galis, who Keith Houchěned a header home.
The tabloids cried foul, the Express whining over “blatant, calculated intimidation, wilful tripping, holding and shoving” by the Czechoslovaks as they saw the game out. In the Guardian, though, Lacey reported that “an extremely tough game was generally good tempered” and that England had been “beaten on skill”. A draw in Portugal, followed by an easy win in Cyprus, sent Czechoslovakia through to the last eight. Revie was left to contemplate the qualifying draw for the upcoming World Cup: Italy, Finland and Luxembourg. “This is the good news England badly needed just now,” he said. “I am optimistic!” Oh Don.
Qualifying group three: Spain 1-1 Scotland (February 1975)
The former Scotland manager Willie Ormond is generally considered to have been a stand-up chap, a proper gent. A legend at Hibernian as one of the Famous Five in the 1940s and 1950s, he was nevertheless capable of winning over the fans at Heart of Midlothian upon taking over as manager in the late 1970s, despite results never being very good. Takes some doing. When he died in 1984, the Glasgow Herald argued that he was “too nice” to have got involved in the grubby business of managing an international team.
So here follows quite a rant, the reaction to the Belgian referee Alfred Delcourt awarding Spain a goal when Martin Buchan handled on the line, a decision that effectively knocked Scotland out of these championships. “He must have come from the home dressing-room. The ball was two feet clear of the line. I admit it was a penalty. Buchan definitely handled. But it was never a goal. I do not often criticise referees, but he was a real homer. Even when we scored, he was looking round to see if he could possibly do something else.” And they say modern managers can be too trenchant at times. If José Mourinho ever made an accusation like that, with even one hundredth of the vehemence, every social media in existence would shear off the internet and spin away into space.
Spanish football was a complete non-event during the seventies, at both club and international level. Spain went on to meet the world champions West Germany in the quarter-finals. Santillana gave the Spanish a first-minute lead at the Vicente Calderón in Madrid, but otherwise it was no fair match. Erich Beer grabbed an equaliser and away goal for the Germans, and in the second leg at the Olympiastadion in Munich, Uli Hoeness and Klaus Toppmöller wrapped things up without too much fuss.
There was plenty of managerial talent on show in that match, incidentally. Franz Beckenbauer and Vicente del Bosque both went on to win the World Cup; Toppmöller took Bayer Leverkusen to the Champions League final in 2002, that year being peak time for cigarettes and booze; while Berti Vogts won Euro 96 and also inspired the Scotland to a two-goal comeback in the Euro 2004 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands. The Scots never have enjoyed themselves much in the Euros.
Quarter-final: Wales 1-1 Yugoslavia (May 1976)
The Welsh performance in the qualifying group stage was a bizarre facsimile of England’s: a turgid start followed by a series of increasingly impressive displays. Mike Smith’s side lost their first game, 2-1 in Austria, then won the other five, seeing off Hungary and Luxembourg home and away, then repaying Austria in the group decider. Star man of the campaign was the veteran Wrexham striker Arfon Griffiths, enjoying a late flowering on the international stage at the age of 34. Griffiths scored four goals in the group, the last the winner against Austria at his home ground, Wrexham’s Racecourse.
Wales had made the quarter-finals of a major championship for the first time since the 1958 World Cup, but there’s where the fairytale ended. For they proceeded to come unstuck in spectacular fashion. Wales didn’t really turn up for the first leg of their quarter-final against Yugoslavia – who had seen off Northern Ireland at the group stage – in Zagreb. They fell behind in the second minute to a Moca Vukotić goal and eventually lost 2-0. The return, at Cardiff’s Ninian Park, proved to be an egregious shambles of an altogether different stripe. Malcolm Page clumsily lunged at Danilo Popivoda, a dyspraxic disaster of a tackle, as the striker raced into the Welsh box on 19 minutes. There wasn’t a whole lot of contact, but the challenge was daft enough to present Popivoda with the option to go down. He went down. The East German referee Rudi Glöckner was forced into a decision. Penalty. Which was dispatched without much fuss by Josip Katalinski. Yugoslavia were disappearing into the distance.
Amid a febrile atmosphere, Wales lost the run of themselves completely. Leighton Phillips tap-danced on Dražen Mužinić and was fortunate to avoid a red card. He escaped with a booking, as did Brian Flynn, who had set about Džemal Hadžiabdić – a future Swansea City star – in a hot-headed hwyl. Terry Yorath would also find his way into the book - and cautions were no small thing in these more laissez-faire days. The Yugoslavs were no saints themselves: Jure Jerković was cautioned for an attack on Flynn. But with a large lead they could afford to engage in battle – there were 50 free-kicks in the game – with cool detachment. As Geoffrey Green noted in the Times, “the fiery Welsh dragon became its own worst enemy in the end, as discipline and rhythm were lost and chances went begging.”
Ian Evans made it 1-1 on the day just before the break, giving Wales a glimmer of a chance. But the hope proved too much to bear. Midway through the second half, John Toshack scored. But Glöckner disallowed the strike, penalising John Mahoney for nearly knocking Hadžiabdić’s head clean off his shoulders with a devil-may-care scissor kick. Welsh supporters flooded the field, one punter giving it the full “hold me back” routine as he faux-threatened several of the Yugoslav team while fortuitously being escorted off the pitch by a number of his pals. Beer cans and other mind-altering missiles flew hither and yon. Glöckner pocketed a stone “the size of a man’s fist” which hit one of his linesmen on the neck. When the game finally restarted, Toshack had another goal disallowed for offside, Yorath missed a pea-roller of a penalty and the referee had to endure weak satire in the form of “Sieg Heil!” chants from a (slightly) calmer crowd.
At the final whistle, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, there was another pitch invasion. As the players jostled their way through the crowd and down the tunnel, one garrulous punter leaning out of the stand attempted to engage Jerković in Socratic dialectic. Jerković turned and – remember, Éric Cantona was still in primary school – whacked the mouthy fan upside the head. When you think about it, football’s pretty much like jazz, rock’n’roll and pseudo-intellectual football quarterlies: everything’s already been done, years and years and years ago.
Semi-final: Czechoslovakia 3-1 Netherlands aet; 1-1 after 90 mins (16 June 1976)
Even by their own lofty standards, this Dutch campaign proved a risible farce. A 5-0 win over Belgium in the quarter-finals had, according to David Lacey in the Guardian, “reasserted their claim to be the world’s most effective attacking side” in the wake of their no-show in the World Cup final. All well and good. But sure enough, behind the scenes, the players, manager and assorted KNVB apparatchiks were busy at work, loading up the guns, pointing them at their own tootsies, preparing for yet another round of masochistic skeet.
Pull! During the group stage, a simmering row between Johan Cruyff and the team’s best goalkeeper, Jan van Beveren of PSV Eindhoven, boiled over. The pair had fallen out over the allocation of sponsorship money before the 1974 World Cup, causing the keeper to miss the entire tournament. An uneasy truce was brokered, but another brouhaha erupted during the Euro 76 qualifiers when Van Beveren refused to let his business affairs be managed by Cruyff’s father-in-law. Cruyff manufactured a ludicrous row with Van Beveren in training, a bespoke spat specifically designed to coerce the manager George Knobel into siding with him and lining up against the proud and stubborn keeper. Van Beveren effectively had no option but to walk from the international scene before getting the push.
Pull! Ahead of the semi-final against the Czechoslovaks, another long-running feud reached its tatty denouement. Knobel had long been disliked with a trademark Dutch passion by the KNVB head honcho Jacques Hogewoning, presumably over who had first go on the swings. Knobel agreed to end his tenure after the Euro finals in Yugoslavia, but the KNVB decided to leak the story to the press just before the showdown with Czechoslovakia. The reason for this manoeuvring has never been made clear; perhaps Knobel broke the lid off Hogewoning’s sippy cup. It’s almost as though the Dutch enjoy blazing arguments just for the sake of it and get their rocks off on any resulting social awkwardness (which may or may not last several decades).
Sure enough, the semi-final did not go according to plan. Many put this down to the uncertainty regarding the manager. Knobel himself maintained that his revenge-crazy players were so obsessed with the possibility of a final against West Germany that they took their eye off the ball against a very good Czechoslovak side. Whatever the reason, one accusation can’t be levelled at Holland: they did play to win, contesting the semi in an absurd manner bordering on the manic.
With 19 minutes gone at Dinamo Zagreb’s rain-swept Maksimir stadium, Wim Jansen and Johan Neeskens needlessly teamed up to clatter Zdeněk Nehoda on the left. Antonín Panenka – 2,500 words into an article on Euro 76 and this is the first mention of Antonín Panenka; you’re welcome – floated the free-kick into the box. His captain Anton Ondruš rose highest, and planted a fine header into the top left.
The Dutch didn’t take going behind well. Minutes later, Willy van de Kerkhof went in high on Ondruš. His attempt to set up the player’s testicles as independent traders should have earned a red. But the referee Clive Thomas only showed yellow. The Czechoslovaks would further rue that non-decision when, on the hour, Jaroslav Pollák chopped Neeskens down as the Dutch star sprinted along the left wing. It was his second booking off the match. Off you go!
Never mind the Pollák, who would not be the only man to receive his marching orders. The Dutch equalised on 77 minutes, a right-wing cross from Ruud Geels dispatched spectacularly into the top right of his own net by Ondruš. The volley was an astonishing act of unintentional genius, Ondruš leaping high, corkscrewing his body to sidefoot into the corner, an ersatz call-back to the famous “phantom” mid-air backheel guided home by Cruyff for Barcelona against Atlético Madrid in 1973. Oh Ondruš! His folly ensured Holland would contest extra-time, though like the Czechoslovaks they’d be doing it with 10 men: a couple of minutes after their equaliser, Neeskens got savage on Nehoda’s shins and was sent packing.
Extra time was decided in controversial circumstances. Cruyff, looking to break down the inside-left channel, was scythed down by Panenka. No foul was given. The ball was blootered upfield, allowing František Veselý to tear off down the right wing. His cross was rich and deep, and Nehoda, rushing in from the other flank, planted a gorgeous downward header into the net. Cue a full and frank exchange of views between a livid Wim van Hanegem and referee Thomas. Both men specialised in haughty self-regard, but there could only be one winner here. Van Hanegem was booked for dissent as Holland trudged back to the halfway line, then sent off for encroaching at the kick-off, the absurdly pompous Thomas having specifically warned the player to stay in his own half until the game had been restarted.
Well, that was the referee’s version, anyway. The player insists Thomas rather weirdly ordered him to kick off, then sent him off when he refused. It’s a puzzle that refuses to be solved, not least because the video suggests Thomas gave Van Hanegem his second yellow for refusing to come to the referee for his first bollocking. (There had been a long stand-off earlier in the game when Cruyff had refused to walk towards Thomas to receive a booking; the referee had eventually won that petty showdown too.) Whatever: Van Hanegem channelled his inner Antonio Rattin and refused to leave the pitch, though, unlike the wronged star of the 1966 World Cup, was persuaded to bugger off quickly enough. In the final seconds of the game, Veselý rounded the sprawling goalkeeper Pieter Schrijvers to seal the deal for Czechoslovakia.
Years later, upon viewing footage of the match for the first time in over 30 years, Thomas would admit he got the Panenka-Cruyff decision wrong, but refused to recant over Van Hanegem. Not that the player was in the mood to make any conciliatory moves either.”He’s just incredibly vain. When you see that little man walk, so pedantic! An annoying little fellow, always saying, ‘Come here.’ You don’t think he has [seen footage of the match in over 30 years]? He was the first to have one of those plasma screens, believe me, to watch that. That’s the sort of little man he is.” As we say, even by their own lofty standards, a risible farce.
Semi-final: West Germany 4-2 Yugoslavia aet; 2-2 after 90 mins (17 June 1976)
Yugoslavia had been poor at the 1974 World Cup: they made the second stage more as a result of Scotland’s lack of attacking gumption than anything else and were easily seen off in the second-phase group by West Germany, Poland and Sweden. More was expected of them here, though: they had put the Swedes back in their box during the qualifying groups, seen off Wales impressively in the quarters and now they were hosting the finals.
They didn’t disappoint in the first half. On 20 minutes, Jovan Aćimović and Branko Oblak combined down the left and Danilo Popivoda was sent racing down the middle, an arcing long ball dropping perfectly at his feet. Popivoda took a touch to step clear of Franz Beckenbauer, then scooped into the left-hand portion of the net. Thirteen minutes later, Ivan Buljan crossed from the right. Maier, confused by the presence of Berti Vogts, flapped at the ball. Dragan Džajić bundled it into the empty net.
With less than half an hour to go and Czechoslovakia already in the final, it looked like another triumph for eastern Europe was on the cards. It would have been another shock: the Germans were the reigning world and European champions. Admittedly they’d suffered a slow decline: the Euro 72 winners were a cut above the 1974 world champions, who were in turn an improvement on this lot, not least because Gerd Müller had called it a day after the World Cup final. But let›s keep the picture in proportion: the tail end of one of the great international eras is still a place to be. Also, Gerd’s namesake was about to prove himself a pretty decent replacement.
On 64 minutes, Heinz Flohe pulled a goal back, his deflected shot wrong-footing Ognjen Petrović in the Yugoslav goal. With 11 minutes remaining, Helmut Schön sent on substitute Dieter Müller for his debut. His first significant act was to meet Rainer Bonhof’s corner, planting a header into the top right. Extra time, and with five minutes of it remaining, Heinz Flohe skinned Slaviša Žungul down the left and fired low across the face of the goal towards Bonhof, who rolled it back towards Müller to roof home. With a minute to go, Bonhof hit the post and Müller followed up to complete his hat-trick. West Germany’s comeback instantly entered the pantheon, observers declaring it one of the great international matches, comparisons made with their 1970 World Cup humbling of England. Displaying the determination of champions, the Germans still had a hold on their continental crown.
Third-place play-off: Netherlands 3-2 Yugoslavia (19 June 1976)
Now why couldn’t the Dutch have played like this three days earlier?
The star quality of their team was drastically reduced in the wake of their semi-final diva fit: no Johan Neeskens, no Johnny Rep, no Johan Cruyff. Still there was plenty of strength in depth. Just before the half hour, Rob Rensenbrink, out on the left wing, teased a lovely curling pass into the middle for Ruud Geels to stride after. Geels drew the keeper Ognjen Petrović and slipped it under his body. Twelve minutes later, Jan Peters wedged a glorious ball down the right for Willy van de Kerkhof, who drilled home low and hard from the tightest of angles. Marco van Basten Country, they’d have called it, if only they’d known.
The hosts hauled themselves back into contention. Josip Katalinski chested down and battered one past Pieter Schrijvers just before half-time. With seven minutes to go, Dragan Džajić whipped a free-kick into the top right. But for once this Dutch side found enough inner strength to bounce back from a setback. Just after the start of the second period of extra time, they went Total Route One: Kees Kist hoicked a long, high pass down the middle of the park. Geels won a foot race with Katalinski, and splatted a shot into the bottom right. Petrović might have done better at his near post, but what can you do? Geels celebrated with a good old-fashioned roly-poly and a wide smile.
Ah yes, wide smiles. So here’s the thing. Without the likes of Cruyff and Wim van Hanegem around to sour the mood with their righteous anger and miserable pusses, this great Dutch side finally delivered in a big match. Sadly for them, their only prize was the consolation of third place. But how instructive that they’d gone into the game with a carefree attitude and won, having sulked their way through a World Cup final and the Euro semi. The love beads they famously sported should have fooled nobody.
Final: Czechoslovakia 2-2 West Germany aet; Czechoslovakia win 5-4 on penalties (20 June 1976)
The greatest international final of all time. It didn’t have the sociological, historical and political resonance of the 1950 or 1954 World Cup finals; it wasn’t drenched in the celebratory, almost lysergic, haze of Mexico 70; it wasn’t decided when the greatest anti-hero in football history crushed a comeback with one insouciant flick of his boot, like Diego did in 1986. But in pure footballing terms, this was the greatest international final of all time.
All the action, naturally, has been almost totally forgotten as a result of the outrageous last kick of the match. But we’ll get to that seriatim. First, all that action.
The Czechoslovak captain Anton Ondruš set the tone early, spectacularly barrelling down the middle of the park in the style of his opposite number Franz Beckenbauer. West Germany had been rocked onto the back foot and they couldn’t recover. Ján Pivarnik, racing down the right, couldn’t find a teammate in the box, but Beckenbauer, having intercepted to the right of his own goal, played a short hospital pass to Berti Vogts, who then compounded the error by taking a heavy touch. Vogts gifted the ball to Marián Masný, who rolled a pass inside to Ján Švehlík on the penalty spot. Švehlík’s fierce shot towards the bottom right was parried by Sepp Maier, but only towards Zdeněk Nehoda to the right of the goal. Nehoda fired low and hard through the six-yard box. Ondruš, having kept on keepin’ on, swung and missed. But no matter! For Švehlík was behind him and battered the ball home. Beckenbauer, whose mistake had set off this absurd chain of events, stood helplessly on the line as the ball sailed into the net.
West Germany responded well. Rainer Bonhof strode down the inside-right channel and unleashed a riser towards the top left from distance. Ivo Viktor punched clear. Bernd Hölzenbein, dropping deep, nearly set Dieter Müller free down the inside-left channel. The striker couldn’t break clear into the area, but bustled enough to earn a free-kick. Bonhof sent a low curler inches wide of the right-hand post. Then Uli Hoeness sashayed down the right and dinked a ball towards Erich Beer, who ducked and left the ball for Hölzenbein, in space in the left-hand side of the box. He took a touch and curled majestically for the top right, only for Viktor to fingertip wide and over at full stretch.
But there was no equaliser, and Koloman Gögh romped down the Czech left, threatening to break clear towards the box. Georg Schwarzenbeck unceremoniously hooked him down, setting up a free-kick that was as good as a corner. Beckenbauer headed the set-piece clear, but only to Karol Dobiaš, just to the left of the D. The full-back stunned the ball with his right, then shot towards the bottom-right corner with his left. He didn’t connect cleanly, but the ball scampered past Maier and into the corner anyway. Just 25 minutes gone and the Germans were two down yet again.
They should have been three adrift soon after the restart. Jozef Móder, deep in his own half, lifted a glorious high ball down the left channel for Masný to chase. Bernard Dietz had a head start on Masný, but not the pace, and the striker got to the ball first, taking a touch to scoot into the area, then poking across and past Maier, who had come out to narrow the angle. The ball bobbled agonisingly wide of the right-hand post. It could have been 3-0. Then again, the Germans could have had three goals themselves and a third of the match had yet to be played.
And suddenly the gap was only one. Herbert Wimmer powered down the right wing, cut inside, and slid a pass down the channel for Bonhof, just inside the box. Bonhof dinked a clever cross to the far post, over the entire Czech defence, the ball dropping to Müller, eight yards out and level with the left-hand upright. Müller twisted, shaped and swept a volley into the bottom left. Gerd who?
The Germans came roaring at the Czechs. Beer and Müller one-twoed down the inside-left channel, but Viktor came out to smother at Beer’s feet. Móder battled down the middle and tried a curler around Beckenbauer and into the top right. Maier saved at full stretch. Beckenbauer sprayed long for Müller down the right. Müller’s cross was fisted clear by Viktor. Hoeness returned the ball hard from 20 yards. Jozef Čapkovič took it full on the nips. The ball, cushioned, dropped to Beer, who couldn’t squeeze a shot past a fully spread Viktor. The ball squirted to the right of a melee. Hoeness, following up, toe-poked goalwards, only for the ball to somehow clank off the inside of the post at the base, avoid the rushing Hoeness and Ondruš as a result of some vicious checkside spin – when any contact at all would have cannoned the ball into the net – and spring back into the arms of Viktor. The keeper calmly threw the ball out to the Czech left wing as though nothing had happened, a surely disingenuous show of insouciance.
Gögh burned Hoeness down the left flank and hit a deep cross for Svehlik, who chested down on the edge of the box, spun and sent Masný into space on the right. Masný clipped a chip onto the head of Nehoda, 12 yards out and level with the left-hand post. The resulting effort beat Maier but clattered off the left-hand post. In the resulting scramble, Panenka saw glory, but his shot was charged down just outside the area. His time was yet to come.
With 60 seconds to go, Ladislav Jurkemik came through the back of Flohe, who was attempting to turn down the right. Free-kick. Beckenbauer, casually flicking with the outside of his boot, sent a dipping ball screeching towards the far post. A corner was conceded in a panic. Whistles rang around the Marakana. Masný stood ludicrously close to the quadrant in an effort to put off Bonhof. No matter. Bonhof threaded high and hard past Masny’s lugs and towards the near post. Viktor rose to punch, but missed, and the ball skimmed off the top of Hölzenbein’s pate and home from a yard out. The final whistle went immediately afterwards. Displaying the determination of champions, the Germans still had a hold of their continental crown (part two).
Extra-time, and the substitute Hans Bongartz danced his way to the byline down the left and chipped across for Müller, who threw himself for a diving header but was denied by Viktor’s last-ditch scooped clearance. Gerd would have buried it. Panenka’s free-kick from 25 yards, heading into the bottom left, was turned clear by Maier. Beckenbauer chanced his arm from nearly 30 yards, but Viktor stopped it going into the top right. With a minute of extra time to go, Hoeness dug out a cross from the right, and Müller very nearly bicycled a volley into the bottom right. Inches away. Penalties it was, a first in major-championship history.
A better series of spot kicks you’d do well to see. Masný into the bottom left. Bonhof, the set-piece specialist, into the right, amid an ear-piercing din caused by a Yugoslav crowd desperate to see the Germans lose. Nehoda and Flohe slotted away to the right too. Ondruš slid a three-step penalty into the bottom left, ice in the veins. Bongartz – think Pablo Honey-era Thom Yorke – sidefooted confidently into the top right. Jurkemik nearly ripped the net off the goal frame.
But it’s the last two everyone remembers. Hoeness made the sole error, leaning back and blootering hopelessly over the bar and into space. And up stepped Panenka, who ... well, we all know what Panenka did. Spare a thought for poor Maier, though, the only man in the world to miss this act of delicate genius, rolling away to his left, his back to the ball as it sailed serenely along a parabola of perfection and landed gently into the net.
Panenka and his moustache found themselves instantly buried under a red-tracksuited pile of bodies. Also buried: the rest of this excellent final, thanks to the groundbreaking beauty of one kick.