There have been few matches in the history of the world cup, and indeed football, that have left a more lasting impact on the sport than Argentina’s victory over England in the 1986 quarter-finals at the mexico city.
Played in the famous Aztec stadium, the match was taken by the best player on the planet at the time -and, for some, of all time- in Argentina’s captain and number 10, Diego Maradona.
But while Maradona’s second goal of the game encapsulated his brilliance perhaps better than any he scored in his career, his first was an equally perfect example of his ability to create controversy and divide opinion.
we’re talking, of course, of the ‘hand of god’, as maradona called his own opening goal after hitting an aerial ball past england goalkeeper peter shilton. It was and still is the most amazing moment in the rivalry between England and Argentina that continues to this day.
diego maradona in 1986
maradona was 25 and entering the prime of his career when the 1986 world cup came around. he had broken the world transfer record for the second time by joining napoli from barcelona for £6.9m in 1984, and helped the Series A team finish eighth and then third after narrowly avoiding relegation the season before his signing. The following season, right after the World Cup, they won the scudetto for the first time in their history and added the Coppa Italia for good measure.
After making a name for himself in Argentinian Juniors with a sensational goalscoring record, Maradona joined Boca Juniors in 1981 and won their only Argentinian league title. From there, he was quickly signed by Barcelona, where he was exceptional when he was fit, but suffered hepatitis and then a broken ankle as a result of a tackle by the notoriously vicious defender Andoni Goikoetxea. barça faced goikoetxea athletic club in the 1984 king’s cup final and, after being subjected to violent games and xenophobic insults by the public throughout the match, maradona unleashed a massive brawl that ended his career in the camp nou, although it is not that he was particularly reluctant. exit.
I was in a much better place when the world cup came around in mexico, with naples the perfect fit for maradona the person as well as the player. Having been eliminated by Italy and Brazil in the second round of the 1982 tournament after receiving a world record 23 fouls against the Italians, Maradona also had something to prove.
argentina vs england, world cup 1986
June 22, 1986
Aztec Stadium, Mexico City
See also: Road to the semi-finals
Argentina 2-1 England
the ‘hand of god’ and one of the 𝙜𝙤𝙖𝙡𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙮… today marks one year since we lost the late great Diego Maradona 💙pic.twitter.com/amcz6iwlan
England had finished second in their group and beat Paraguay in the round of 16 to qualify for the quarter-finals, while Argentina was undefeated and had beaten Uruguay to book their place in the last eight. having already built a football rivalry, four years earlier the two countries had been at war over the Falkland Islands.
That added a lot of extra tension to what would probably always be a fierce match on June 22, 1986. Maradona lined up behind Jorge Valdano in Argentina’s 3-5-1-1 formation, while England played a 4 – quite narrow. 4-2 with steve hodge and trevor steven wider in midfield.
The first half was goalless, but although Peter Beardsley had a good chance for England, it was Argentina who enjoyed the ball more and were asking more questions in the attacking box. her superiority would be noticed at the beginning of the second half in two of the most famous moments, for very different reasons, in the history of the world cup.
even the hand of god, however, started with a bit of maradona brilliance. The No. 10 sailed past Glenn Hoddle and then weaved between two more England players before slipping a pass to Valdano and working his way into the box. The ball bounced off Valdano’s foot and Hodge hooked it wildly in his own penalty area, where Maradona got up and knocked the ball past Shilton’s lunge.
none of the referees saw him, and neither did anyone else, for a while, except for the england players who were nearby and began their desperate appeals for ali bin nasser to be refereed. English commentator Barry Davies wondered why they were claiming offside when the ball had clearly been played by Hodge, not by an Argentine player. Davies noticed that Maradona’s arm was raised on a replay, but at the time there was still some question as to what had really happened.
Maradona did a good job of selling it as he walked away to celebrate, though his quick glances at the officials were revealing. Bin Nasser, standing outside the box closer to England’s left touchline, probably had his line of sight partially blocked by Shilton and the crowd of bodies, but the linesman on the opposite side, Bogdan Dotchev, should have had an unobstructed view.
England pushed forward in an attempt to respond, but a few minutes later, Maradona doubled Argentina’s lead with a goal that, as Davies said, there was no question.
Maradona received the ball just inside the Argentine field. he taking a first touch towards his own goal to evade one opponent, then found himself in front of another and rolled the ball back to move away towards the right touchline. With some room to run, he then turned away from Peter Reid in pursuit as he crossed the halfway line.
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Gradually cutting towards the England box, Terry Butcher came out to meet him, but could only swing a desperate leg in Maradona’s vague direction as he moved deeper into midfield. As he neared the edge of the box, a stationary Terry Fenwick never had a chance to stop the 5′ 5″ speedball hurtling towards him and simply tried to foul Maradona before he could advance on Shilton. no luck.
maradona had one more player to beat; Shilton himself. Anticipating a shot into the far corner, the keeper went to the ground and Maradona dragged the ball in with his left foot, exactly as he had done to Fenwick, before dispatching the goal empty despite being hit from behind by Kenny Sansom.
no look at the officers this time. “You have to say it’s magnificent,” exclaimed Davies. Gary Lineker would score a late goal for England, but they couldn’t find a second.
what happened after the ‘hand of god’ goal?
After the match, when television replays and photographs had made it clear that Maradona had handled the ball, the striker gave his first goal his famous name by commenting that it had entered “a little with Maradona’s head and a little with the hand of God”.
added later: “I was waiting for my teammates to hug me, and no one came…I told them, ‘come hug me, or the referee won’t allow it.'”
bin nasser and dotchev blamed each other. “I was waiting for Dotchev to give me a clue as to what exactly happened, but he didn’t make the handball sign,” bin Nasser said years later. “And the instructions that FIFA gave us before the game were clear: if a colleague was in a better position than me, he should respect his opinion.”
“Although I immediately felt there was something wrong, at that time FIFA did not allow assistants to discuss decisions with the referee,” said dotchev, whose account was marked xenophobic on more than one occasion. “If FIFA had put a European referee in charge of such an important match, Maradona’s first goal would have been disallowed.”
england manager bobby robson was more sure of what he saw. “I saw the ball in the air and Maradona was going for it,” Robson said. “Shilton tried too, but Maradona put the ball into the net. You don’t expect decisions like that at the world level.”
even robson, however, couldn’t complain about the latter. “A brilliant goal,” he added. “I didn’t like it, but I had to admire it.”
argentina wins the 1986 world cup
After a game like this, Argentina had to go all the way. Maradona scored twice to secure a 2-0 victory over Belgium in the semi-finals and West Germany beat France by the same margin to book their first trip to the Azteca Stadium of the tournament.
Germany coach Franz Beckenbauer put Lothar Matthaus on Man Mark Maradona and, on the surface, it seemed to work: Having scored all four of his team’s goals in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, Maradona couldn’t sheet of scores. the influence of him, however, was still felt.
first, he won the free kick from which jose luis brown headed in to give the south americans the lead. Shortly after halftime, he participated in the play that led Valdano to make it 2-0 at the end of a quick counterattack.
West Germany were a stubborn and hard-working team, however, and seemed to have saved extra time thanks to goals from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller, both from the left corner.
but maradona was not quite done. With six minutes remaining, he opened his body to receive a bouncing ball with three German players surrounding him and saw the run of Jorge Burruchaga, who raced away from Hans-Peter Briegel and past Harald Schumacher into the goal. Argentina became world champion again.