Last Updated 30 | 05 | 2014 at 09:14

Sport

Mexico 1986 - The 13th Edition

Article By:
Pierre Sciberras

The 1986 FIFA World Cup, the 13th FIFA World Cup, was held in Mexico from 31 May to 29 June. The tournament was the second to feature a 24-team format. Colombia had been originally chosen to host the competition by FIFA but, largely due to economic reasons, was not able to do so and officially resigned in 1982. Mexico was selected as the new host in May 1983. 

It was won by Argentina (their second title, after winning in 1978). Argentina was captained by Diego Maradona who scored the infamous "Hand of God" goal, as well as another voted "Goal of the Century", in the same quarter-final against England. These were two of the five goals that Maradona scored during the tournament, and he also created another five for his team-mates. Argentina beat West Germany 3–2 in the final at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca. Total attendance was 2,393,031, an average per match of 46,019. The 1986 World Cup saw the appearance of the phenomenon dubbed the Mexican wave, which was popularised world-wide after featuring during the tournament.

The format of the competition changed from 1982, with the second round being played on a knock-out basis rather than groups. The 24 teams qualified were divided into six groups of four (A to F). The top two teams and the four best third place finishers from the six groups advanced to the knockout round of 16 teams. It was the last FIFA World Cup where teams from the same continent were not fully separated from each other in the draw for the first round. Under new rules after this competition, each World Cup group had either two or three European teams. In 1986, Group B only had one European team (Belgium).

Colombia was originally chosen as hosts by FIFA in June 1974. However, the Colombian authorities eventually declared in November 1982 that they could not afford to host the World Cup under the terms that FIFA demanded because of economic concerns. Mexico was selected on 20 May 1983 as the replacement hosts, beating the bids of Canada and the United States (who eventually hosted the 1994 World Cup), and thereby became the first nation to host two World Cups. This second World Cup in Mexico came 16 years after the first one in 1970. A severe earthquake in September 1985, eight months before the tournament, cast doubt over Mexico's ability to organize the event, but the stadia were not affected and it was decided to go ahead with the preparations.

As 1986 had been declared the International Year of Peace by the United Nations, the advertising boards of all the stadia displayed the FIFA and United Nations logos along with the legend "Football for Peace - Peace Year".
For the design of the logo an unofficial motto was adopted: "El Mundo Unido por Un Balón" ("The World United by a Ball").

Three teams qualified for the World Cup for the first time: Canada, Denmark and Iraq. Canada clinched its spot after winning the final match against Honduras 2–1 in St. John's, Newfoundland. Iraq played all their home matches on neutral ground because of the Iran–Iraq War. South Korea qualified for the first time since 1954, Paraguay for the first time since 1958, and Portugal for the first time since 1966. As of 2014, this was the last time either of Hungary, Canada, Iraq, or Northern Irelandqualified for the finals.

The official mascot of this World Cup was Pique, a jalapeño pepper, characteristic of Mexican cuisine, with a moustache, a Colimote sombrero, and Mexican football team colours. Its name comes from picante, Spanish for spicy peppers and sauces

The first round of the finals began in Group A, where Italy were held 1–1 by Bulgaria. Meanwhile, Argentina beat South Korea 3–1, with Diego Maradona playing a major part. Italy and Argentina drew 1–1, Maradona and Alessandro Altobelli scoring. South Korea and Bulgaria also drew 1–1 in a downpour. The final set of matches saw Argentina beating Bulgaria 2–0, and Italy narrowly defeating South Korea 3–2. In Group B Mexico beat Belgium 2–1, and despite being held 1–1 by Paraguay, they won the group after a further win over Iraq, 1–0. Paraguay and Belgium also progressed after both beating Iraq and drawing with each other.

 

Group C pitted a strong Soviet Union side against the reigning European champions France. They drew with each other 1–1, with a goal scored by Vasili Rats. France beat Canada 1–0 and finished in 2nd place in the group after beating Hungary, 3–0. Hungary had earlier lost 6–0 against the Soviet Union, which won the group due to goal differential.

Group D saw Brazil start against Spain, winning 1–0 after the referee failed to validate a legal goal scored by Míchel. Northern Ireland began their campaign with a draw against Algeria. Northern Ireland were then narrowly beaten by Spain before losing to Brazil 3–0 in their final match. This match saw a goal from Josimar on his debut and was also the final time Pat Jennings played for Northern Ireland. Spain qualified along with Brazil after defeating Algeria 3–0.

Denmark, stormed through Group E, dubbed the group of death with a 100 per cent record. They beat Scotland 1–0 in their first game, then hammered Uruguay 6–1, with Preben Elkjær Larsen hitting a hat-trick. Denmark beat one of the favourites to win the tournament, West Germany, 2–0 thanks to a Jesper Olsen penalty and a goal from John Eriksen. After losing to Denmark, Scotland took the lead against West Germany thanks to a Gordon Strachan goal, but the West Germans fought back to win 2–1. After a violent 0–0 draw against Uruguay, the Scots were eliminated from the tournament. During that game José Batista of Uruguay was sent off after less than one minute of play for a foul on Strachan, a World Cup record that still stands. West Germany went through to the second round despite a loss against Denmark.

Morocco topped Group F after holding both Poland and England to goalless draws, and beating Portugal 3–1. By doing so, they became the first African team, and only the second nation from outside Europe and the Americas (after North Korea in 1966), to reach the second round. England lost 1–0 to Portugal, followed by a 0-0 draw against Morocco in which they lost captain Bryan Robson to injury (for the remainder of the tournament) and vice-captain Ray Wilkins to a red card (he was never to be selected for England again, even after having served his obligatory one-match ban). In their last first-round game, with the captaincy taken over by Peter Shilton in goal, a first-half Gary Lineker hat-trick helped the reshaped side beat Poland 3–0 - although losing yet another player to a ban for the next round, Terry Fenwick receiving his second booking of the tournament. Poland had previously beaten Portugal, and in the end the Portuguese were the only team from Group F to be eliminated in the first round. Portugal, making their first appearance in 20 years, went on strike (in the Saltillo Affair) during the competition. Players refused to train between their first and second games (against England and Poland) and were eliminated after a loss to Morocco in the final group match.

Belgium beat the Soviet Union 4-3, despite a hat-trick by the Soviets' Igor Belanov. The game was level at 2–2 after 90 minutes, and in extra time Stephane Demol and Nico Claesen put Belgium 4–2 up. Belanov scored from the penalty spot with nine minutes remaining, but neither he nor any of his team-mates could find a fourth goal for the Soviet Union. In Mexico City, France, the European champions, ended Italy's reign as world champions with a 2–0 victory thanks to goals from Michel Platini and Yannick Stopyra. In the rematch of the 1930 FIFA World Cup Final, Argentina just edged out South American champions Uruguay in Puebla thanks to a 42nd minute strike from Pedro Pasculli. The all-South American affair had a Diego Maradona's goal disallowed.

In Querétaro, Denmark were eliminated as they went from a 1–0 lead to a 5–1 battering against Spain; key player Frank Arnesen was suspended for the game after being sent off against West Germany in their last group match, for taking a swipe at German playmaker Lothar Matthäus. The Danes scored first, with a Jesper Olsen penalty, but they were then taken apart by a devastating performance from Butragueño of Spain, who scored four of his team's five goals. England progressed to the quarter-finals comfortably when they saw off Paraguay 3–0 while Brazil brushed aside Poland 4–0. West Germany had a much harder time getting past Morocco, for whom goalkeeper Badou Zaki had an outstanding game. Morocco held out until the 87th minute, when Lothar Matthäus scored the only goal of the match. Mexico won 2–0 against Bulgaria with an outstanding scissor-kick goal by Manuel Negrete which is honored by a remembrance plaque at Estadio Azteca.

In the quarter-finals, France faced three-time world champion Brazil in Guadalajara. Brazil were well on top in the early stages, and Careca put them one up after 18 minutes. Five minutes before half-time, France drew level when Michel Platini scored his 41st goal after converting a cross from Dominique Rocheteau. Brazil had a chance to regain the lead in the second half when Branco was fouled by French keeper Joël Bats in the penalty area. Zico got up to take the kick, but Bats saved Zico's penalty.

The match went to extra time, and France finished slightly the stronger of the two sides. No more goals were scored, and so it was time for a penalty shoot-out. Socrates, who had earlier missed an open goal and headed an easy chance straight into the French keeper's arms, failed with the first kick for Brazil. The next six penalties were all converted, and then Platini fired over the bar. Brazil were back on level terms – but not for long. Julio Cesar struck the post with his penalty, and Luis Fernández then scored to put France through 4–3 on penalties.

Two other quarter-finals were also decided on penalties. Jan Ceulemans put Belgium ahead against Spain in the 35th minute, but Spanish substitute Senor equalised with five minutes to go. No more goals were scored in extra time, and Belgium won the shoot-out 5–4. West Germany and Mexico drew 0–0 after extra time, and the West Germans eliminated the hosts 4–1 on penalties. As a curiosity, the German goal-keeper Harald Schumacher jumped to the right in the three Mexican penalties (stopping two of them).

The quarter-final between Argentina and England was featured two very different goals by Diego Maradona: the first was scored illegally, as he punched the ball into the goal past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. The referee did not see the handball and the goal was given as valid. After the game, Maradona claimed the goal was scored "A bit with the head of Maradona and another bit with the hand of God"; it became known as the "Hand of God" goal. For his second goal, voted "Goal of the Century" in 2002 on the FIFA website, Maradona dribbled half the length of the field past five English players before scoring. In Argentina, the game was seen as revenge for the Falklands War.

In the semi-finals, Andreas Brehme put West Germany 1–0 ahead against France in the ninth minute, but the outcome remained in doubt until two minutes from time when Rudi Völler made it 2–0, and West Germany were in the final for the second World Cup in succession. In the other semi-final, Maradona struck twice in the second half as Argentina beat Belgium 2–0. France went on to defeat Belgium in the third-place match, 4-2.

Jose Brown put Argentina one up midway through the first half of the final, and when Jorge Valdano scored a second for the South Americans in the 55th minute, Argentina looked to be strolling to victory. West Germany then staged a spirited comeback. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge pulled one back in the 74th minute, and six minutes later Rudi Völler hit the equaliser. With seven minutes remaining, a pass from Maradona gave Jorge Burruchaga the chance to score the winner for Argentina. Eight years on from their home triumph, Argentina regained the world title and 30 million people in Argentina celebrated in the streets after the final victory. Maradona was the Golden Ball winner as the best player of the tournament, while Gary Lineker of England won the Golden Boot as the leading scorer of the World Cup with six goals.

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