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The FIFA World Cup has produced some moments of joy when nations show off their skills on the pitch and moments of pain and tears when nations lose crucial matches. Then there are moments of pure magic, ecstasy and unbelievable miracles. One such moment was the 1954 World Cup final when the underdogs, West Germany walked out as champions after some of the most entertaining ninety minutes ever witnessed in football. West Germany emerged as the world champions after coming from behind to beat mighty Hungary by three goals to two.
Leading up to the game
To understand just how miraculous and significant this victory was, you have to know of a few factors that were at play. The first was Germany’s weakness on the international front leading up to this match. Following the catastrophic events of the World Wars, Germany had been severely weakened. This was not helped by the great division in the country in which some citizens supported the Nazi party while others were against it. However, the West German national team managed to shrug all these away and show great resilience to defeat the formidable Hungarian side.
The Miracle of Bern
The two sides had met earlier in the tournament with Hungary completely dominating the Germans and winning the game with a comfortable 8-3 score line. This made the Hungarians the favorites ahead of the final that was played in the Swiss city of Bern.
It was rainy in the matchday but the match kicked off as scheduled. The Hungarians surprised the Germans with an early goal from their prolific striker, Ferenc Puskas in the sixth minute from close range. Many started predicting a repeat of the demolition that Hungary had unleashed on the Germans. Barely two minutes later, the Hungarians were two goals ahead thanks to their fast-paced left-winger, Zoltán Czibor.
The tide turned very fast, however, with Max Morlock scoring the Germans’ first goal with a low cross to spark an incredible comeback for the underdogs in the tenth minute. Eight minutes later, Germany earned a corner and Germany’s captain and the focal point of Germany’s attack, Fritz Walter stepped up to take it. The corner fell to the feet of Helmut Rahn who slammed it home from close range to take Germany level, restoring their confidence and self-belief.
The second half witnessed relentless attacking from the Hungarian team, with Puskas being especially impressive. However, try as they did, they still couldn’t find the winning goal. Six minutes before the final whistle, the scorer of the equalizer, Helmut Rahn brought the 60,000 spectators in the stadium to their feet with one of the most beautiful goals in the World Cup finals. His left-footed shot from deep in the pitch couldn’t be stopped and the Germans were 3-2 ahead.
The same side that many had disregarded was just six minutes away from being crowned the world champions. Puskas wasn’t ready to give up just yet and slotted home Hungary’s third goal. The referee had already pointed to the center of the pitch indicating the goal was accepted but after consulting with the linesman, he ruled it offside. The final whistle was blown a few minutes later and West Germany was the new world champions.
This final is still remembered fondly by those who watched it and is easily considered one of the greatest World Cup finals ever played. It was the beginning of Germany’s domination of world football which they have maintained to date.