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Paul McLoone

WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN - 1978


by Michael McMullan  29th May 2014  08:00
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The 1978 World Cup was the first to attract more than 100 entries

The build-up to it happened against the backdrop of a military dictatorship taking power in the host nation Argentina.

Many nations publicly debated whether they would still play, but nobody withdrew in the end, and rumours that Johan Cruyff’s international retirement was a political stance were later denied by the player himself.

Even without Cruyff, the Dutch made it to the final for the second time in a row, and Argentina went into their last match of the second group phase needing to beat Peru by four clear goals to join them.

In the event they won 6-0 to go through at the expense of Brazil; claims of Peru being bribed or threatened into this outcome were high on speculation but low on evidence.

Argentina led the final through a first half goal from Mario Kempes, but Dutch substitute Dirk Nanninga scored late in the game to take it into extra time. Kempes scored again though, and Daniel Bertoni wrapped up a 3-1 win as Argentina became world champions for the first 


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