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Paul McLoone

WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN - 1986


by Michael McMullan  03rd Jun 2014  08:00
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The 1986 World Cup was originally due to go to Colombia

When they found themselves unable to go ahead, Mexico were named to become the first country ever to stage it on two occasions.

Despite the success of the new format in 1982, FIFA changed it so that instead of a 12-team second group stage, there would be 16 teams going through to a straight knockout phase, which led to 36 group matches being played to eliminate just eight of the 24 teams.

Morocco surprised everyone by topping a group which also included England, Poland and Portugal; war-torn Iraq qualified for the first time despite being unable to play any qualifiers at home, but lost all three matches at the finals; and Northern Ireland were there again but couldn’t repeat the heroics of 1982, going out with only one point from three matches.

Italy arrived as unfancied holders and duly exited in the last 16 against France, who went on to beat Brazil on penalties before losing 2-0 to West Germany, thereby failing to avenge the events of four years earlier.

More than anything though, this is remembered as the World Cup of Diego Maradona. He got both goals in their 2-1 quarter final win over England, the first of them blatantly punched in with his hand, the second probably the greatest solo effort in the tournament’s history.

Maradona again scored twice as Belgium were beaten 2-0, taking his team into a final in which the Germans twice came from behind to draw level, before Jorge Burruchaga got Argentina’s winner with seven minutes to go.


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