World Cup Archives: Brazil 4-1 Italy - a minute-by-minute report of the 1970 final
This is an edited extract from 'And Gazza Misses The Final', a collection of minute-by-minute reports from classic World Cup matches written by Rob Smyth and Scott Murray (Constable, £8.99).
The book includes 22 full games – starting with Brazil v Uruguay in 1950 - and a series of magic minutes involving Pele, Benjamin Massing and other greats. Below is an account of the 1970 final between Brazil and Italy, played in Mexico City before 112,000 spectators.
It’s beginning to look like Brazil will realise their dream of becoming the first country to win the World Cup three times and take home the famous Jules Rimet Trophy for keeps. They’re hot favourites to win this afternoon and little wonder: en route to the final they’ve scored 15 goals in five matches, beaten the reigning champions England and seen off the ghosts of 1950 by finally defeating Uruguay at a World Cup. They’ve raised the bar to such an extent that their two most memorable moments are misses, for goodness sake, Pelé nearly scoring from the halfway line against Czechoslovakia, and freezing the Uruguayan keeper in amber during the semi with an outrageous dummy, rounding him on one side while the ball went t’other, before finally yanking a shot inches wide. Can anyone stop this famous forward five of Pelé, Rivelino, Tostão, Gerson and Jairzinho?
If anyone can, Italy are your men, for the 1934 and 1938 champs are looking to bag Jules Rimet for good as well. The current European champions eased their way through qualification, with Luigi Riva, a newly crowned Serie A champion with Sardinian minnows Cagliari, scoring seven times. After a quiet start in the group stage, they’ve reached the final after pelting four goals past hosts Mexico and the highly fancied West Germans. The only problem has been keeping midfield maestro Gianni Rivera happy. Coach Ferruccio Valcareggi doesn’t much like the cut of the Milan star’s jib, it would seem, preferring Sandro Mazzola of Internazionale, who it was thought had been brought to Mexico merely as cover for Rivera. When he replaced Rivera at the start of the tournament, so abrasive was the Golden Boy’s response to being dropped that he was nearly sent home. But as things have panned out, Mazzola’s been playing the first half of the knockout games, with Rivera coming on for the second. What a carry-on. And to think Valcareggi is paid to make decisions! It’s a decision of sorts, I suppose, and eight goals in two games suggests it’s working, but you have to wonder how this might pan out now we’re down to the nitty-gritty.
Whoever plays, this final is being viewed as a battle for the philosophical heart of soccer, the flair and panache of the South Americans versus the wily catenaccio (the ‘door-bolt’ defensive system) of the Azzurri. Broad brushstrokes, of course, but it’s not totally unfair. Either way, it’s expected to be a close one, with Brazil fancied to edge it, much as they did against England. In fairness, the contest would be a damn sight harder to call if it wasn’t being played in this heat and altitude. Gerson, the brains of Brazil, is on 40 gaspers a day and a faster game at sea level would surely be beyond him.
Kick-off: The highest of high noons: 12 midday.
Referee: Rudi Glöckner (East Germany).
Valcareggi has made another decision! And it’s to keep that preposterous Mazzola–Rivera staffetta (relay) policy going: Enrico Albertosi, Tarcisio Burgnich, Giacinto Facchetti, Mario Bertini, Roberto Rosato, Pierluigi Cera, Angelo Domenghini, Sandro Mazzola, Roberto Boninsegna, Giancarlo De Sisti, Luigi Riva.
Brazil, a teamsheet that conjures up so many vivid images it reads like a modernist poem: Félix, Carlos Alberto, Everaldo, Clodoaldo, Brito, Piazza, Jairzinho, Gerson, Tostão, Pelé, Rivelino. So much depends on Brazil, glazed with rain water. It’s a humid, oppressive afternoon.
A heady atmosphere in the Azteca, then, which is filled to the brim, 112,000 people. Sailing off into the ether are four humongous beachball-balloons, one bedecked in the blue-and-green of Brazil, another in the Italian tricolore and therefore totally out of sync with the national team strip, and a couple with huge Mexico 70 logos stamped on them. That brazen branding’s going to give someone at FIFA ideas. They can’t rely on coin generated by pitchside ads for Mothercare for ever.
The players line up to get their photos taken, Brazil looking grim-faced, the weight of expectation pressing heavily. The scene quickly descends into mayhem. Bedlam bedlam bedlam. The pitch fills with some official-looking folk and very many unofficial-looking folk. An awful lot of photographers and assorted hangers-on. The World Cup final’s going to kick off in less than 60 seconds, for goodness sake, will you all please bugger off?!
Amid the madness, Pelé swooshes around, warming up, completing several little circles to make one big, baroque, semi-circular swoop of the field, a one-man whirling waltzer. Attempt to avoid clichés all you like but just try watching him move without picking up a samba earworm. Speaking of stereotypes, up the other end of the field the Italians are huddled around several severe gentlemen in trenchcoats, looking for all the world like they’re striking an import–export agreement that won’t necessarily involve passing through any of the major designated ports.
Kick-off: Handshakes between captains Giacinto Facchetti and Carlos Alberto, the latter winning the toss and insisting the teams switch direction. And with the field quickly swept of clingers-on, we’re off! Boninsegna gets the ball rolling. It’s not long before Italy lose the ball and Jairzinho is skittering down the right. Pelé goes down looking for a free-kick but he’s full of sauce.
2 min: Pelé’s full of energy, too, and speedily exchanges passes with Tostão down the inside-left channel. For a second it looks like he’ll break clear, but Bertini is covering and passes back to the keeper. Italy waste no time in tearing down the right themselves, the ball eventually being shuttled inside to Riva, who unleashes a rising heatseeker towards goal. What a shot! Félix tips over magnificently. The corner is an easy one for the keeper. What a start, though.
4 min: Bertini hacks down Pelé as the latter chases after a sliderule Carlos Alberto pass down the right. What glorious hoodlummery. Free-kick. Gerson looks to bend it, but slips as he takes, and his low left-to-right curler is easily gathered by Albertosi.
5 min: This is a high-octane start. Brazil are coming down the middle at pace after Jairzinho picks up a loose Domenghini pass from the right wing. He’s clattered to the floor on the edge of the D by Facchetti. Another free-kick.
6 min: Pelé dummies. Rivelino blooters the setpiece on to the roof. Haw.
7 min: Mazzola exchanges passes with Riva to advance down the inside left, but his eventual shot is weak and wafts into the arms of Félix.
8 min: Carlos Alberto floats a cross into the Italian area from the right. At the far post, Albertosi should let it fly out for a goal-kick but panics and punches behind. He’s not the only one not quite on his game; Rivelino, after that free-kick, now hits a corner miles into the sky and straight out of play on the other side.
9 min: Rivelino slips on the turf and skitters across it on his arse. An undignified climax to an undistinguished start.
15 min: Italy have settled into this a little bit now. Domenghini tries to score from the best part of 40 yards while out on the touchline, some respect please, for the love of God. The shot pings off poor Wilson Piazza’s coupon and out for a corner on the left.
16 min: De Sisti is clattered by Pelé. Free-kick, 35 yards out, just to the left of goal. Brazil line up a wall but there’s a laughably large gap in their defence to its right. Mazzola floats the ball over the head of the lurking Boninsegna and right on to the forehead of the onrushing Riva, who really should score from a slight angle, 12 yards out. Instead his effort loops over the bar. That’s an appalling miss, really, and nearly as bad as Brazil’s defending.
18 min: GOAL!!! Brazil 1–0 Italy (Pelé). Tostão drops a shoulder down the left and whips a cross towards Pelé, but it’s headed out for a throw by the stooping Facchetti. The Italians do not heed the warning. Receiving Tostão’s throw, Rivelino leans back and loops a high cross into the box, Pelé getting the jump on Burgnich and clattering a majestic header into the bottom right, Albertosi late to react. That’s Brazil’s 100th goal in World Cups. Not bad timing, eh? Pelé is lifted into the air by Jairzinho’s bearhug and punches the sky three times. You’ll see that celebration again.
19 min: Hilariously, and preposterously, Brazil make no effort whatsoever to regroup for the kick-off, and are all buggering around deep in their own half when Italy get the ball moving again. The ball’s flicked out to Domenghini, who powers down the wing, cuts inside and hammers a low shot towards the bottom right, Félix doing well to claim. That was staggeringly inept.
20 min: Gerson sends a crossfield ball to the right for Carlos Alberto who, ten yards from the touchline and with the angle preposterous, decides to go for the spectacular. He achieves it: a spectacularly awful slice off the side of his boot straight behind and into the crowd. He has the chutzpah to look down and blame his footwear. At least there’s plenty of time left in which to showcase better technique, Carlos.
23 min: After a period of sterile Brazilian possession, a cock-up. Everaldo passes back down the left wing to Piazza, who sidefoots inside to Brito. Brito attempts to flick a casual one back to the left for Clodoaldo, but Riva nips in to block the lazy pass and hare after it down the middle. Félix comes out of his box, wallops clear and waves angrily at his defence. Don’t. Do. That. Again. Or else!
25 min: Free-kick to Brazil, 20 yards out on the left, level with the left-hand side of the area, after Bertini scythes through the back of Rivelino. The Italians line up a five-man wall. Rivelino shapes to have a shot but sprints straight past the ball. Pelé rushes in and chips a perfectly weighted ball after Rivelino. The five Italians spin and turn, then crash to the floor like pissed-up circus performers. Rivelino, on the run, shapes to whip a cross into the middle, where Gerson, Jairzinho and Tostão are lining up to belt home from six yards. But he hesitates for a fatal microsecond, allowing the ball to skid off the turf and out for a goal-kick, despite a desperate late lunge. Such a clever pass from Pelé, though, threaded along a route to the left of the wall and the right of Rivelino, inviting the cross.
26 min: Italy so nearly cleave Brazil in two. From the centre circle, Domenghini slides the ball forward to Riva, who with his back to goal 30 yards out plays a first-time flick onward to Mazzola and gets clattered by Piazza for his trouble. The referee waves play on, as Mazzola is clear of the backtracking Tostão and advancing towards the area, but on the edge of the D, Brito slides in majestically. He’s not letting that ball get past.
27 min: Pelé goes on a meander down the inside-right channel and is upended by Burgnich. He rolls over on his side once, then executes two head-first roly-polies, all in one smooth Olympic-gymnast-standard movement, a technique that comes with a difficulty tariff of 6.0. Applause. The Italian is shown the yellow card and doesn’t seem to care very much. Brazil’s trainer trots on with bucket and sponge to attend to Pelé, but is angrily told to chip off by the referee, who furiously flaps his hands in dismissive style. Pelé is still on the floor moaning, but there’s naff-all wrong with him, the big gurner.
28 min: Rivelino’s resulting free-kick finds the top-left corner. Of the stand behind the goal. That’s the worst free-kick ever taken in a World Cup final, surely. Rivelino looks down at his wet boot and the soft turf, but is fooling nobody.
32 min: Félix reverts to type, throwing an awkward ball out wide to Carlos Alberto, who sees it balloon over his head for a throw to Italy. As the sun comes out, Mazzola takes up possession from the throw and slides the ball left to De Sisti, who draws three men before twinkle-toeing the ball back inside to Mazzola. From a standing start, Mazzola turns on the burners, dances past three challenges, flicks a quick one-two off De Sisti to his left, then powers into the box and takes a shot from a tight angle. But Brito and Gerson have crowded round him, and the ball’s blocked out for a corner. From the setpiece, Félix, mopping up his own mess, sends a punch almost to the halfway line.
34 min: A mad scramble on the edge of the Italian area. Jairzinho bombs down the middle and attempts a one-two with Tostão. On receiving the return, he’s stopped mid-flight by Burgnich’s sliding tackle, but still manages to nick the ball down the inside left for Pelé, who immediately flicks one back into the middle for Tostão. The forward breaks into the box before hitting a weak cross-cum-shot in the general direction of the left-hand corner and the onrushing Jairzinho. Italy hack clear.
35 min: Rivelino drops a shoulder to glide past Bertini down the inside right. As he cuts inside, Bertini is so wrong-footed he inadvertently performs the splits across the skiddy turf. That might make a couple of bobbles on the pitch. Rivelino pokes an awful effort miles left of the target and as high as a house to boot. He gets pelters from the bench. A full and frank exchange of views ensues. His shooting has been hilariously poor so far.
37 min: FARCICAL GOAL!!! Brazil 1–1 Italy (Boninsegna). Pelé looks to turn Burgnich in the Italian area but the defender’s having none of it, banging an interception upfield with no little authority. Everaldo chases back down the Italian right flank to collect, turning the ball inside to Piazza, who floats a needlessly dangerous chip across his back line. It drops towards Brito, who has Riva nearby but still enough time to deal with the problem. He doesn’t, though. He heads inside to Clodoaldo who, unaware Boninsegna is lurking, attempts an adventurous blind backflick out towards Piazza, still on the Brazil left. Boninsegna intercepts and, though never quite in control, barrels clear down the inside right. Brito is coming over to meet him from the middle, while Félix races rashly out of his box. Cue komik kutz on the edge of the D and proof that Brazil really did learn nothing from all that fannying around at 23 minutes. Brito’s sliding challenge, coming in towards Boninsegna from the left, is weak and mistimed, the ball clattering off his heel and into the middle. His useless contribution has also had the effect of taking Félix out of the game, the keeper having turned up to the melee a millisecond too late. Félix puts the brakes on and attempts to change direction, but he knows the game is up. Boninsegna scampers after the ball and, although Riva gets in the way with a view to nabbing the goal himself, wraps his left leg around his cheeky team-mate to hook the ball into the bottom right of the empty net. He races off with arms out wide before being smothered by Domenghini and Mazzola. Riva doesn’t join in, the mardy get.
41 min: The sun is shimmering now. Mazzola instigates a gorgeous sweeping Italian move from deep, jigging his way out of trouble near his own area down the left before clipping a ball out to Facchetti, who shuttles the ball up the flank to Boninsegna. Facing back down the pitch, he draws two Brazilian players and, with the full knowledge he’s going to be cleaned out by Carlos Alberto, plays a reverse ball down the wing to Riva, who makes good for the box and wins a corner off Brito, the defender doing well to stop the striker taking a shot. Back upfield, Carlos Alberto and Boninsegna are both receiving treatment, the former having been clocked in the coupon upon clattering the latter. The pair respectfully apologise to each other like adults, proving that this game really can be beautiful even when the participants are wantonly fouling each other.
43 min: Domenghini launches a low, rising shot straight at Félix, who nearly dives all around it but eventually gathers midway through the pudding course.
44 min: Rivelino is booked for a petulant backflick on Bertini, who has come from behind to whip the ball off his toe. Bertini holds his thigh. For a second, it looks like the referee is going to show the Brazilian a red – the card’s in his hand, visible to all – but he ostentatiously flashes yellow to all four stands. But then he lets Rivelino see the red card, pointing to the bench as if to say: ‘One more like that, son, and you’ll see this one too.’
HALF TIME: Brazil 1–1 Italy, though it probably should be Brazil 2–1 Italy! So how’s this for a farcical end to the half? Despite Rivelino’s booking for retaliation, the referee has awarded a free-kick to Brazil for the original Bertini challenge. Very strange. From the left touchline, Gerson loops a high ball into the area. It drops over the head of an out-of-position Burgnich, who falls backwards as the ball lands at Pelé’s feet, ten yards out, level with the far post and with only the keeper to beat. But instead of playing on, Pelé throws his hands up in disgust. Why’s he pausing?! It’s half time, that’s why! The referee’s blown his whistle early – 45 minutes aren’t quite up – and Pelé is understandably beside himself with the rage! He still manages to convert, despite the red mist, flicking the ball into the bottom-left corner and clattering Cera, coming across to cover, on the shoe while he’s at it. Cera gets right up in Pelé’s grille to remonstrate, pointing at his instep, and Pelé’s suddenly surrounded by a raging sea of blue shirts. Nobody’s got a clue what’s going on, until the referee, ball wedged under his armpit, strides through the melee and wanders off the pitch for a fag and a cup of tea.
And we’re off again! No changes, which is something of a surprise as Valcareggi was expected to continue with this staffetta malarkey and replace Mazzola with Rivera at the break. Brazil set us in motion again.
47 min: Carlos Alberto is sent striding clear on the overlap. He fires a ball straight through the six-yard box. Pelé slides in at the far post, but misses the ball and clatters his wrist on the post.
50 min: Gerson clips a high ball down the middle, into the Italian area. Pelé stumbles as he tussles with Facchetti, then races off after the referee, miming a tug on his sleeve. The big man’s bopping around with the heat on. It really wasn’t much of a challenge.
52 min: Burgnich upends Pelé in roughhouse fashion, 30 yards out on the right. Rivelino takes what Hugh Johns on ITV calls a ‘fast-bowler’s run-up’ and batters a rising, swerving shot towards the right of goal. Albertosi parries it with strong arms and Italy hack clear. Brazil come straight back at them. Gerson goes on a Power Jog down the inside right. His one-two with Tostão on the edge of the box doesn’t quite come off but the ball loops towards Pelé, who is obstructed by Burgnich as the Italian attempts an overhead clearance. Indirect free-kick! Or, as the caption has it: tiro indirecto!
53 min: On ITV, Bobby Moore thinks it should be a penalty for dangerous play. But tiro indirecto it is. Pelé feathers the ball to the right for Gerson, who blooters hopelessly into the Italian wall. Insult is nearly added to injury as Facchetti breaks upfield along the left. The ball’s funnelled inside and across the pitch to Domenghini, bombing in acres down the right. He hammers a shot towards the bottom-left corner. Everaldo comes across, sticks a boot out and nearly deflects the thing into the bottom right. That was inches away. Domenghini waves both of his fists, then pumps them, in frustration.
55 min: Gerson is looking increasingly dangerous, a testament to his daily multipack cheroot regime. Again he bursts down the inside right, again a one-two with Tostão doesn’t quite come off. He was very nearly through on goal there.
56 min: Rivelino twists on the ball through 360 degrees, takes a couple of steps down the inside-right channel, drifts inside then hoicks an effort over the bar. Italy go up the other end through the increasingly attack-minded Mazzola, who has a sortie down the inside-right flank himself and shovels a poor shot miles over from distance. This is good to-and-fro stuff and not wholly predictable, even if Brazil are gaining a little momentum.
58 min: Rivelino begins a determined sashay towards the Italian box, drifting in from the left. He’s scythed down by Bertini, who cuts his feet off with one cynical swish from behind. Pelé’s free-kick from a central position 25 yards out is a new Worst Of All Time, some going given Rivelino’s attempt half an hour earlier, shooting off at a 45-degree angle towards the top-right corner of the stand behind the goal. A place-kicker in rugby would struggle to set a ball off along that flight. Ee, he’s a poor lad.
59 min: RIVELINO HITS THE BAR! Another free-kick for Brazil, just outside the area, after Facchetti linked arms to do-se-do Jairzinho out of a one-two with Tostão. Tiro indirecto! From the edge of the D, Gerson knocks the ball to the right for Rivelino, who twangs the crossbar with a rising thunderer. Goal-kick. Bobby Moore reckons it’s the first time Rivelino has used his right foot all tournament. ‘It’s a wonder he doesn’t use it more often!’ Especially the way he’d been shooting up to this point.
61 min: Brazil are becoming the dominant force now. Pelé looks to dance round Burgnich down the right and into the area, but he’s barged off the ball and appeals to the referee by waving his hands in the air as he falls backwards. Tiro directo! Rivelino batters it over the bar and is battered himself by Riva as he’s taking it. Another free-kick! Riva looks astonished and disgusted at the same time, an Italian speciality. Rivelino skelps the second effort into the wall, a trick Gerson repeats with the loose ball.
63 min: An increasingly rare sojourn upfield for Italy as Boninsegna finds space down the left and loops a cross to the far post for Riva, who bangs a header into Everaldo’s back from a tight angle, a couple of yards out. The corner’s met by Mazzola, whose header sails along a gentle parabola towards Félix. The keeper skips into the air in the style of a morris dancer after one mead too many and punches a feeble effort a couple of yards to his right. Fortunately Carlos Alberto is on hand to sweep up. ‘What an incredible man to have behind you if you’re a defender in this brilliant Brazilian side,’ notes a tinder-dry Hugh Johns.
65 min: Gerson has the run of the middle of the park. He’s been running the show since half time, only moving upfield since the restart, after which the Italians have had no time to formulate one of their trademark defensive lockdowns. Clever Gerson. Clever Brazil. He sets a move in motion down the right, Clodoaldo feeding Carlos Alberto, who whips a cross towards Tostão at the far post. The forward can’t control his header, which screws well wide left.
66 min: THIS HAS BEEN COMING!!! Brazil 2–1 Italy (Gerson). Gerson has the run of the park all right. His beautiful reverse ball sets Everaldo on a probe down the inside left. Jairzinho takes up possession and makes for the edge of the D. He’s tracked by Facchetti, who sticks a toe in. The ball breaks to Gerson, who has been loitering in the middle. He takes two little taps to the left, before twisting and walloping a mid-height cross-shot into the right-hand side of the goal. Boninsegna slid in with a tackle, while Albertosi flung himself across goal, but neither made it in time. Gerson races off with arms aloft, a cheesy grin across his boat. Reserve keeper Ado leads a delegation off the bench to celebrate the achievement. Brazil are 24 minutes away from becoming world football’s first three-time champions!
67 min: Straight from kick-off, Domenghini is brought down by Everaldo along the right touchline, 12 yards from the byline. The Italian gets up and attempts to beat Félix at his near post with an outrageous effort but it goes straight out of play, ten yards to the right of goal. He walks back upfield with his head hung low, abjectly defeated and humiliated. Pelé’s reign as taker of Worst Free-kick Of All Time has lasted all of nine minutes.
68 min: The stunning Gerson eats up most of the pitch as he scampers down the inside right. He rolls a pass inside to Tostão, who attempts to turn Facchetti but fails and executes a rather embarrassing dive instead. Italy move upfield through Domenghini, who is checked by Pelé. He responds by shoving the Brazilian in the chest. Pelé falls backwards like he’s catching a cannonball, then rather absurdly grabs his left shin as he hits the ground. The ref clearly considers this a whole load of nonsense and ostentatiously refuses to allow Pelé to receive any treatment, ordering the bald guy with the bucket and sponge back off the field for the second time. And just like before, Pelé’s soon back on his feet again. Good old ref.
69 min: Gerson has been brilliant since the restart, having kept his cards close to his chest for so long, though whether he’s within his rights to attempt to score from 40 yards now is a moot point.
70 min: Domenghini leaves a leg in as Pelé glides past. Pelé flips himself miles into the air, a triple salchow with pike and a difficulty tariff of 34. This is gloriously petulant behaviour all round. The referee can’t be bothered with any of it, and simply gestures that they’re to get up and stop behaving like a couple of spoilt brats.
71 min: SURELY THE CLINCHER!!! Brazil 3–1 Italy (Jairzinho). From the resulting free-kick, just to the left of the centre circle, Gerson left-foot-wands a raking crossfield ball into the area towards Pelé, level with the right-hand post. Burgnich is completely lost. And beaten. He turns around to see Pelé rise above him. Pelé plants a header down and across the face of the six-yard box. Jairzinho races in and thighs the ball into the bottom-left corner, evading the desperate lunges of Cera and Albertosi. He tries to finish with a flourish, but his wild hoof becomes a fresh-air swipe and the ball makes its own way in, almost apologetically. That’s a goal in every game of the finals for the Botafogo striker, who races off in the arms-aloft Gersonian style, before sinking to his knees in prayer.
72 min: To illustrate the ragged mental state of the normally impervious Italians, as they kick off six of them are loitering around the centre spot, like folk waiting for the bus home. They look broken. This has been a Gerson masterclass. He attempts to replicate his goal by launching another left-footed stinger from the edge of the area but it’s straight at Albertosi.
74 min: Gerson walks through the centre circle with the ball at his feet. We’ve got to the stage where nobody even bothers to challenge him.
75 min: Rivelino is checked by De Sisti on the left-hand edge of the area. Free-kick. Before it can be taken, a limping Bertini falls in the centre circle and is replaced by Juliano, the first substitution in any World Cup final. Gerson taps the free-kick to the right for Pelé to embarrass himself with a witless blooter that’s high and miles wide right.
79 min: Mazzola cuts in from the right and feeds Boninsegna, who turns and looks for the bottom left from the edge of the D. It’s accurate but without power. Félix saves comfortably, which is a phrase for the ages. Brazil break upfield. Tostão pokes Pelé clear into the area. Pelé should score but his sidefoot towards the right-hand side of the net is smothered brilliantly by the desperate Albertosi. The flag’s up, so none of this counts, a real shame for the keeper, who’d just won a personal showdown with the best player in the world.
80 min: The last chance for Italy to get back into this match, perhaps, is squandered. Juliano, from a position down the inside right, scoops a clever pass forward towards Mazzola, who is screaming for the ball in space, 25 yards from goal in the centre. He turns and has time to shoot, but takes a second too long and is forced to drift to the right and clip a cross into the mix instead. There’s a brief stramash involving Riva and Boninsegna, the latter eventually thrashing a wild effort miles over from the left-hand side of the box, but by then the Brazilians were swarming around and the door of opportunity that had opened momentarily for Mazzola had long been slammed shut.
84 min: As Albertosi receives a wet sponge to the head, Boninsegna is replaced by Rivera. So much for the half-time staffetta.
86 min: THE ICING ON THE CAKE, THE BOW ON THE BOX, THE CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT! Brazil 4–1 Italy (Carlos Alberto). What a thing of beauty this is, nothing short of a masterclass, football’s pinnacle finally reached, Brazil planting the flag. The Italian substitute Juliano hares down the right, but Tostão takes the ball off him like candy from a baby suffering from heat exhaustion and altitude sickness despite only being in the pram for 11 minutes. Tostão dispatches the ball back to Brito, who rolls it forward to Clodoaldo. The ball’s clipped in a short-range triangle, first Pelé, then Gerson, then back to Clodoaldo, who drops and raises his shoulders like a laughing policeman, tying Rivera, Domenghini, De Sisti and Juliano up in knots. He strokes the ball wide left to Rivelino who, inside his own half, curls a pinpoint pass down the line to Jairzinho. Just ahead of the box, the striker cuts inside past Italian captain Facchetti, then clips the ball across Cera to Pelé, facing goal in front of the D. Burgnich closes him down but Tostão – who’s made it all the way upfield after starting the move and is now behind Burgnich, also facing Pelé – gives the King the eyebrows to the Brazilian right. Pelé takes the hint and rolls a perfect ball out wide; it sits up, allowing Carlos Alberto to evade the despairing lunge of Rosato, who has attempted to come across and block, and skelp it into the bottom corner past Albertosi. Only two outfield Brazilians were not involved in that move – Everaldo and Piazza. With a beautiful symmetry, only two Italians, Mazzola and Riva, were completely out of the picture and can therefore wash their hands of it. God almighty, what a move, what a strike, what a final statement to make in a World Cup!
87 min: As the Brazilians cavort behind Italy’s goal, the Mexican television caption – ANOTADOR! SCORER! *4 CARLOS ALBERTO – washes out the entire picture. It’s almost as though we’ve reached the end of the reel, this is the end, we can go no further, Brazil have finished off football as well as Italy. Where else can the story be taken from here?
88 min: Carlos Alberto is surrounded by photographers – on the pitch! Finally they bugger off and we restart. Rivera has a resigned shot, which Félix swallows up without fuss. Pelé sends another ball goalwards from the halfway line but this time it’s a gentle backpass. Rivelino goes on a determined run down the inside-left channel and is upended by Juliano when he makes the box. If this was 0–0, that’d be a penalty but the referee decides to show Italy some mercy. Brazil deserve to win and have been so good during the second half that the three-goal margin doesn’t particularly flatter them. And yet this excellent Italian side doesn’t deserve to be spanked in the biggest match of all by a margin of four.
90 min: There’s been plenty of bloody awful shooting in this match and perhaps the most egregious hack has been saved for last, a Domenghini shank that nestles in row Z, but only after rebounding from the seats behind. The crowd refuse to give the souvenir back. Time’s up, but the referee refuses to blow until a ball’s on the pitch. This is farcical. Eventually a new orb is presented to him. He hands it to Rivelino to give to Félix.
90+2 min: This is bedlam. Now the original ball has been dispatched back on to the field of play! One fan pops out of the stand and goes on a speedy skitter down the Brazilian right, which is better than some of the Italians have managed. Félix restarts the game and Rivera nearly takes his ankles out with a petulant lunge. The ball’s hoicked upfield, in the general environs of another encroaching punter who’s sporting a sombrero and poncho. ¡Arriba! At which point referee Rudi Glöckner raises both arms . . .
IT’S OVER!!! BRAZIL ARE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD FOR THE THIRD TIME AND WILL GET TO KEEP THE JULES RIMET TROPHY!!! Brazil 4–1 Italy. Within seconds of the final whistle, Pelé is mobbed. Hundreds of fans are on the field. Firecrackers crack their fire. Pelé is lifted shoulder high. He’s already been divested of his shirt. But someone does give him one of those sombreros to wedge on to his noggin, so it’s swings and roundabouts when it comes to wardrobe inventory. This has quickly descended into a rare old brouhaha. But there’s Carlos Alberto lifting the glistening Jules Rimet trophy to the sky. You look after that thing, now!
And Gazza Misses The Final, a collection of minute-by-minute reports from classic World Cup matches written by Rob Smyth and Scott Murray, is published by Constable, priced £8.99.