The World Cup Game of the Century

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Soon after the FIFA World Cup was conceived, Italy and West Germany distinguished themselves as true heavyweights of the game, dominating early versions of the tournament. In the 1970 World Cup played in Mexico, the two teams met in the semifinals and played out a game for the ages.

After finishing normal time tied at 1-1, the game went into a 30-minute extra time period. The two teams plundered a total of five goals with Italy winning the game 4-3 to advance to the final. Those five goals remain a record for most goals scored in extra time of a FIFA World Cup Match.

Buildup and Events of the Match

Italy and West Germany had cultivated a fierce rivalry as the two superpowers of European Football. West Germany had been runners up at the 1966 World Cup having lost in the final to England, and were therefore looking to go one better. Italy meanwhile had not reached the Final since 1938 and were looking to reestablish their reputation.

The humid and hot conditions inside the Aztec Stadium in Guadalajara had been a problem for many teams during previous fixtures and this match was no different. The tempo of the game was slow at the beginning but Italy skillfully went into the lead on the 8th minute through Roberto Boninsegna. The scores stayed intact till late into the match in injury time, when Kerl Heinz Schnellinger scored an equalizer.

In the fourth minute of extra time, Gerd Muller score to put West Germany ahead for the first time. Barely four minutes later, Italian Tarcisio Burgnich equalized and a goal by Luigi Riva in the 104th minute returned the Italians ahead. In the 110th minute, Muller fired West Germany back into the contest by tying the game at 3-3.

It was not to be for the West Germans however. Seconds after the celebrations had died down and the game restarted the nervy West German defense allowed Boninsegna to cross from acres of space on the left and an unmarked Gianni Rivera connected with the ball from the edge of the penalty area and scored a fine winning goal.

Aftermath of the Match

To date, no World Cup match has had as dramatic an ending in respect to the number of extra time goals. West Germany were involved in another exciting semifinal in 1982, against France, that saw four extra time goals plundered. With the win, Italy booked a final matchup with the feared Brazil side led by the legendary Pele.

In the Final, the Brazilians ran riot defeating the seemingly tired out Italians 4-1. West Germany meanwhile were placed in a third place playoff against Uruguay, who they beat 1-0. Brazil, being the first team to win the World Cup three times, were permanently awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy which was then replaced by the current cup.

A statue commemorating that iconic match was erected at the Azteca stadium. Italy would win the 1974 World Cup and then waited until the 2006 edition held in Germany to add to their haul. They are now tied with Germany on four World Cup wins, with Brazil, on five, being the only team with a superior count.