Sunday, June 22, 2014

22 June 1986 - The Hand Of God And The Goal Of The Century

On 22 June 1986, Argentina defeated England 2-1 in a World Cup quarterfinal match before a crowd of 114,580 at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca.

The Falklands War between the two countries had ended just over four years prior, which added to an already intense rivalry between the national sides and raised the emotional stakes of the match. The Argentinians, managed by Carlos Bilardo, had the better of the first half, with most of the opportunities created by midfielder Diego Maradona. England keeper Peter Shilton held firm, however, and the teams reached halftime with a scoreless draw.

Six minutes after the break, English left midfielder Steve Hodge bobbled a clearance attempt, sending the ball into his own penalty area. Both Shilton and Maradona raced to meet it, with Shilton having an apparent advantage due to his 6' 1" (1.85 m) height, as compared to the 5' 5" (1.65 m) Maradona. Maradona got to the ball first, however, and punched it into the goal with his left hand. The referee, believing that Maradona had headed the ball into the net, allowed the goal to stand. After the match, Maradona told reporters that the goal was scored "un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios" (a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God). The goal thus became famous as the "Hand of God" goal.

Just four minutes later, Maradona scored an even more famous goal. He received the ball just inside his own half and proceeded to dribble through the English side, getting the shot off right before being tackled. The display of individual skill earned the title of "Goal of the Century" in a FIFA poll prior to the 2002 World Cup.

England striker Gary Lineker scored in the 80th minute, but Barry Robson's side was unable to produce an equalizer and Argentina won, 2-1. 

The Argentinians went on to win the tournament with a 3-2 victory of West Germany in the Final.

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