Tuesday, June 15, 2010

15 June 1986 - Belgium Shreds The Iron Curtain

On 15 June 1986, the Soviet Union fell to Belgium 3-4 (a.e.t.), despite a hat-trick from Dynamo Kyiv striker Ihor Belanov, that year's Ballon d'Or winner.

The two teams met in the World Cup's first knockout round, the Round of 16. Belanov (pictured), who had scored only one goal in the tournament's group stage, put the Soviets ahead in the 27th minute with a powerful blast from the right edge of the box. They held their lead through the first half, but in the 56th minute, Belgian midfielder Enzo Scifo slipped behind the Soviet back line to receive a well-timed pass and prodded it past the keeper for the equalizer.

They traded goals again later in the half; an unmarked Belanov received a pass in the box and slotted it home in the 70th minute, then seven minutes later Belgian midfielder Jan Ceulemans again caught the Soviet defense napping to take a high arcing lob on his shoulder and knock it into the goal. The second half ended at 2-2 to send the match into extra time.

In the 102nd minute, center back Stéphane Demol gave Belgium their first lead with a powerful header, then striker Nico Claesen extended it eight minutes later. A 111th-minute Belanov penalty kick gave the Soviets a lifeline, but they were unable to find another.

The Belgians continued their run with a quarterfinal win over Spain on penalty kicks, 1-1 (5-4), before losing 2-0 to eventual champions Argentina in the semifinal, then to France, 4-2 (a.e.t.), in the third place match.

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