FIFA World Cup Finals: Part 1 (1930 - 1970)

1930: Uruguay 4 Argentina 2
The 1930 World Cup final began with an argument about whose ball should be used. The host nation felt it should use a Uruguayan ball, but Argentina insisted on using theirs. The debate was resolved by using a different ball in each half. There was no argument about the winner of the game though. Despite coming back from an early Uruguayan goal to lead 2-1 at half-time, Argentina once more lost to the side that had beaten it two years previously in the Olympic final in Amsterdam. Uruguay's second-half spree goal was completed by Héctor Castro, who played with a disability having lost his right arm in an accident at the age of 13. The forward’s last minute strike sealed a 4-2 victory and Uruguay became the very first winners of the World Cup.

1934: Italy 2 Czechoslovakia 1
The 1934 World Cup final was a distasteful promotion of Benito Mussolini’s Italy, as the tournament’s host nation put on a celebration of fascist pomp and spectacle at Rome’s Stadium of the National Fascist Party. A hostile Italian crowd was outraged when Czechoslovakia took the lead after 76 minutes, but Italy’s Argentinean winger Raimundo Orsi scored a lucky equalizer five minutes later. The game went to extra-time, where Italy fulfilled its dictator’s demand for victory with a goal from Angelo Schiavio, who was playing his last game for the national team. The following day, Orsi, who claimed he had meant the freak swerving shot that had deceived the Czech goalkeeper, tried to recreate his feat. Twenty attempts later, Orsi gave up in disgust, much to the amusement of the specially assembled journalists and photographers.

1938: Italy 4 Hungary 2
1938 was a triumph for fascism as Italy claimed its second successive world title in front of an uninterested French crowd. The Azzurri had become very unpopular with the local crowd after Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had insisted the team wear provocative black shirts during its quarterfinal win against France. Despite six goals being scored, the French did not miss much of a game as Italy raced to a 3-1 lead by halftime. Though Hungary pulled a goal back on 70 minutes, Italian striker Silvio Piola sealed the win eight minutes from time with his second of the match.

1950: Uruguay 2 Brazil 1
The 1950 World Cup was unique in being decided by a mini-league of four teams rather than a knockout competition. Strictly speaking, the tournament did not have a final, but as the last game between Uruguay and Brazil was decisive in deciding the winner, this game is generally regarded as the unofficial final. Host nation Brazil were overwhelming favorites going into the game and only needed a point to secure the world title. Over 200,000 people poured into Rio de Janeiro’s half-finished Maracana Stadium and all seemed to be going according to plan when Friaca gave Brazil the lead just after halftime. However, inspired by its captain Obdulio Varela, Uruguay fought back. Prior to the game, Varela had contested his coach Juan López’s plan to sit back and defend against Brazil’s highly regarded forward line. Now a goal down, the Celeste captain urged his team to attack. The brilliant Juan Alberto Schiaffino grabbed an equalizer after 66 minutes and the huge crowd suddenly became nervous. With 11 minutes to go, Alcides Ghiggia silenced the masses with a brilliant winner that shocked the world and earned Uruguay its second world title.

1954: West Germany 3 Hungary
The 1954 final produced one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history as West Germany triumphed in a match that would become known as the miracle of Berne. Hungary was the heavy favorite to win the World Cup in Switzerland, and the Magnificent Magyars boasted a team featuring some of the world’s best players such as Ferenc Puskas, Zoltan Csibor, and Sandor Kocsis. The two teams had already met in the group stage in a game easily won by Hungary. However, West Germany’s coach Sepp Herberger had realized that the winner of that match would have had to face Brazil in the quarterfinals and so fielded a reserve side that lost 8-3. As Hungary raced to a 2-0 lead within the first eight minutes of the final, it must have thought another rout was on the card. But West Germany struck back quickly, with forward Helmut Rahn leveling the match after 18 minutes. The scoring then stopped and the final looked to be heading for extra-time until the 84th minute, when Rahn raced through the Hungarian defense to score the winner. A controversial offside decision ruled out an 87th minute Puskas equalizer and West Germany went on to win its first World Cup.

1958: Brazil 5 Sweden 2
The 1958 World Cup final will forever be remembered as the game that introduced Pelé to the world. The 17-year old had not been part of Brazil’s team at the beginning of the tournament, but his inclusion alongside the brilliant winger Garrincha for the crucial final group game against a very strong USSR team helped the South Americans to a 2-0 win and transformed Brazilian soccer forever. Host nation Sweden was a surprise finalist and despite taking an early lead, it could do little to stop the magical Brazilians from lifting their first-ever World Cup. Vava scored twice to give Brazil a 2-1 halftime lead before Pelé lit up the final with a truly magnificent goal, chipping the ball over the head of a Swedish defender then running past him and volleying the ball into the back of the net. Mário Zagallo, who went on to coach Brazil to victory at the 1970 World Cup, added a fourth on 68 minutes, after which Sweden pulled a goal back. With seconds remaining, Pelé headed in his second goal of the game and then shed tears of joy as Brazil lifted the Jules Rimet trophy.

1962: Brazil 3 Czechoslovakia 1
Brazil had lost Pelé through injury earlier in the tournament, but it was the other hero of the 1958 World Cup triumph that inspired a second successive world title. Garrincha, the Little Bird, was outstanding in his team’s semifinal win over host nation Chile, but was sent off late in the game. Faced with a possible one game suspension, the winger escaped with a warning and took his place in the starting line-up for the final. However, Brazil did not need to rely on Garrincha's dazzling dribbling skills as it was given a helping by the previously outstanding Czechoslovakia goalkeeper Viliam Schorjf. The European side took the lead on 15 minutes but an error by Schorjf, who had been the hero in the quarterfinal win over Hungary, allowed Amarildo to equalize. A close game remained deadlocked until Zito headed Brazil into a 2-1 lead on 68 minutes. Ten minutes later, another Schofjf blunder allowed Vava to seal the game and Brazil retained its world title.

1966: England 4 West Germany 2
The country that gave soccer to the world finally brought home the World Cup in this classic final encounter at London’s Wembley Stadium. As host nation of the 1966 finals, England was determined to win its first world title. All looked to be going well after goals from Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters wiped out West Germany’s early lead. The celebrations almost began in the stadium as the final minutes ticked away when West German defender Wolfgang Weber scored an equalizer with the last kick of the game. The game went into extra-time, which featured one of the most controversial moments in World Cup history. Eleven minutes into the additional period, Hurst crashed a shot off the underside of the crossbar, which bounced down onto the goal line. Despite West German protests, the linesman concluded the ball had crossed the line and awarded the goal (unlike 44 years later in South Africa with Frank Lampard’s goal against Germany that never was). With West Germany pressing for an equalizer, a counter-attack saw Hurst race clear to complete the first ever World Cup final hat-trick and win the World Cup for England.

1970: Brazil 4 Italy 1
The greatest team ever to play soccer chose the biggest stage of all on which to display its pedigree. A Brazil team featuring soccer legends such as Pelé, Rivelino, Jairzinho, and Gérson put on a wonderful display of soccer to beat an Italian team that was exhausted from its epic semifinal encounter with West Germany. Brazil took an early lead through Pelé, but Roberto Boninsega took advantage of some poor Brazilian defending to equalize shortly afterwards. The second half was all Brazil who went ahead through Gérson, before Jairzinho scored a third and set a World Cup record for scoring in every round the tournament. The coup de grace came in the 86th minute with one of the greatest goals scored at a World Cup. A wonderful passing movement that involved eight Brazilian players culminated in captain Carlos Alberto rocketing a shot past the Italian goalkeeper. Brazil won its third World Cup and was allowed to keep the Jules Rimet trophy permanently.

Related Article: FIFA World Cup Finals: Part 2 (1974 - 2006)

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