FIFA World Cup Quarter-Final
Estadio Nou Camp, León (MEX), 14.06.1970
Germany Win

3-2 aet (0-1, 2-2)
Beckenbauer 68., Seeler 82., Müller 108. / Mullery 31., Peters 49.

Germany: Maier – Vogts, Höttges (46. W. Schulz) – Beckenbauer, Schnellinger, Fichtel – Libuda (56. Grabowski), Seeler (c), G. Müller, Overath, Löhr

England: Bonetti – Newton, Moore (c), Labone, Cooper – Mullery, B. Charlton (70. Bell), Ball – Lee, Hurst, Peters (81. Hunter)

Colours: Germany – white shirts, black shorts, black socks; England – red shirts, white shorts, red socks

Referee: Ángel Norberto Coerezza (Argentina)
Assistants: Guillermo Velasquez (Colombia), José Maria Ortiz de Mendibil (Spain)

Yellow Cards: Müller / Lee
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 23,357

If Germany’s slender 1-0 win in Hannover in 1968 had released the Mannschaft from the burden of never having beaten England, the game in León just over two years later was to symbolise a clear and firm break with the past. For not only did Germany win for the second time running, they were to win a match that really mattered – a World Cup quarter-final. Moreover, they were to win in a game where for much of the time they had looked down and out – setting the pattern for much of what would follow for the best part of the next three decades.

Holders England had come into the tournament as one of the favourites; although footballing purists would have described them as dull and unspectacular, Sir Alf Ramsey’s hard-hitting defensive approach had produced results. The 1970 squad was arguably better than that of 1966, and in the intervening years Ramsey’s side had only lost four games in thirty-five encounters against Brazil, Scotland, Yugoslavia and of course Germany; none of these games had been lost by more than a single goal. The German squad that headed off to Mexico was also seen as better than the 1966 vintage: their record in between the two tournaments was very similar to England’s, with four defeats in thirty-two matches coming against Yugoslavia, Romania, Chile and Spain.

Both teams arrived at the quarter-final stage in contrasting fashion: while Helmut Schön’s side had won all three of their group fixtures and scored ten goals – with Gerd Müller scoring seven including hat-tricks against Bulgaria and Peru – England had scraped through with wins over Romania and Czechoslovakia and a defeat to Brazil, with all three games being settled by a single goal. The match in the blistering midday heat of León was therefore seen as a contest between the free-scoring Germans – and the goal-happy Der Bomber – against the tried and tested masters of defence led by the redoutable Bobby Moore.

England were disadvantaged from the off: not only were the crowd in favour of the opposition, they also had to do without their talismanic goalkeeper Gordon Banks who had gone down with a stomach upset just hours before kick off. Taking his place between the sticks would be Chelsea’s Peter Bonetti – whose memories of the match would remain with him for the rest of his career.

Both teams started off slowly, which was unsurprising given both the temperature and rarefied atmosphere. The first quarter of the match provide little in the way of action, though England were soon snapping at the heels of the Germans at almost every opportunity. Indeed, the only real incident was when Francis Lee waved an arm at Sepp Maier, resulting in a yellow card.

The action was very bitty, and it took a well-made goal to break the deadlock just after the half-hour mark. Deep inside his own half, left-back Terry Cooper picked up the ball, and played the ball close inside to Alan Mullery. Playing a neat one-two with Lee, Mullery continued his run into the German half before finding the advancing Keith Newton on the right flank. Newton took the ball to the edge of the penalty area, and played a slide-rule pass towards the near post. There to meet it was Mullery, who swept the ball past Maier and into the net from the six-yard box. It was a great move, engineered and finished by one man – and the finish itself was so sharp one might have removed the ‘y’ from the Spurs midfielder’s name and added an Umlaut to the ‘u’.

Germany upped the ante in an attempt to come back into the game, but their finishing was at best ordinary – a Hannes Löhr blast over the bar constituting their best effort. England meanwhile slipped back into defensive mode, and ensured their going into the half-time break with what was probably a deserved lead. The German wing-play that had been so dominant in the earlier stages of the tournament had been non-existent, and Gerd Müller had not had a sniff of a chance. Alf Ramsey and England clearly had a game plan, and as both sides headed into the dressing room it looked as if it was working.

The second half was hardly ten minutes in when England doubled their lead. It came in much the same way as the first: after a German move had broken down, Bobby Moore found Geoff Hurst free in the centre of the field. Rather than closing Hurst down quickly, the German players stood back and allowed Hurst to remain comfortable on the ball. Support quickly arrived down the right in the form of Newton, who took the ball to the edge of the area before swinging it into the box where it was met at the far post by Martin Peters.

With the searing afternoon heat taking its toll on both sides, the task faced by the Germans appeared monumental. The clock continued to tick by, and England looked calm and relaxed as they slowed the pace of the game right down. Helmut Schön threw on the powerful Jürgen Grabowski for Stan Libuda, and even though they started to come back into the game the score still remained at 2-0 to England as full-time closed in.

There were just over twenty minutes left when Franz Beckenbauer picked up as pass from Klaus Fichtel inside the England half before sprinting to the edge of the area, ghosting past Alan Mullery and launching a right-footed shot on target. It was not the fiercest shot Der Kaiser had ever produced, but its being on target proved to be enough as Bonetti appeared to dive over the ball before it hit the back of the net.

Although it was an error any goalkeeper could have made, the unfortunate Chelsea man was never really forgiven for allowing the Germans back into the game. Might Gordon Banks have saved Beckenbauer’s shot? Possibly, though any sort of debate is of course meaningless. Bonetti man had hardly been tested up to that point, and this might have if anything had a negative effect; moreover, the great Banks himself had made a similar gaffe in the 1966 final when Helmut Haller’s stoppable shot had given Germany the lead.

Having been allowed back into the game, Helmut Schön’s side pressed in search of what would have been just moments earlier a miraculous equaliser. Both sides continued to make chances: substitute Colin Bell first tested Maier before Hurst’s brave angled diving header went agonizongly wide with the German keeper beaten, while at the other end the hitherto anonymous Müller skillfully jinked and twisted past Newton to engineer a one-on-one with Bonetti that was struck firmly but straight at the England ‘keeper who did well to hold the ball.

Germany’s midfield slowly began to assert themselves, with both Beckenbauer and substitute Grabowski in particular pressing forward with purpose. With just eight minutes left on the clock, what had up to that point been a concerted siege on the on the England goal finally paid off. Picking up a loose England clearance, left-back Karl-Heinz Schnellinger hoisted a long and very English-style ball into the box, where it was met by the balding Uwe Seeler. It was a Seeler classic: he waited for the ball with his back towards the England goal, evaded the challenge of Newton and deftly steered the ball over Bonetti and into the net with the back of his head. Inconceivably, the Mannschaft were right back in it.

With minutes remaining in the regulation ninety they could have completed the comeback act, but having combined with Müller the marauding Beckenbauer hit his shot just wide of the post. The final whistle blew: as had been the case at Wembley four years earlier, the game would finish all-square at 2-2 with thirty minutes of extra time to play. Thirty more minutes in the thin air and roasting heat.

With temperatures well over one-hundred degrees Fahrenheit more and more gaps started to appear on the pitch, and both teams continued to create opportunities. Hurst headed over the bar before Brian Labone blasted a shot into Row Z, while at the other end Beckenbauer called Bonetti into action. The game remained deadlocked as the whistle blew for the change of ends; unlike today where there would be a penalty shootout if the scores remained level at the end of extra time, the drawing of lots would decide the winner.

Thankfully, it would never come to that. Three minutes after the restart, the energetic Grabowski charged past left-back Terry Cooper, launching a high ball across the England box towards the far post. Hannes Löhr somehow managed to summon enough strength to leap into the air and beat Newton to the ball, looping a return header over the static Brian Labone for none other than Gerd Müller, who acrobatically volleyed the ball home past the helpless Bonetti from all of three yards. 3-2, with just over ten minutes left.

Yet it was still not over: a dramatic last ten minutes saw England throw everything and the kitchen sink forward. First a Hurst tap-in was disallowed – correctly – for offside, before Bell was upended by Beckenbauer in the box. It looked like a sure-fire penalty, but the fates were clearly on Germany’s side this time in much the same way as they had been absent four years earlier: the Argentinian referee simply waved play on. England continued to press with both Mullery and Newton testing Maier, but finally the whistle sounded. Germany were through.

Cumulative Record:

Home: played 8, won 1, drawn 2, lost 5. Goals for 11, goals against 23.
Away: played 5, won 0, drawn 0, lost 5. Goals for 3, goals against 20.
Neutral: played 1, won 1, drawn 0, lost 0. Goals for 3, goals against 2.
Overall: played 14, won 2, drawn 2, lost 10. Goals for 17, goals against 45.

Competitive: played 2, won 1, drawn 0, lost 1. Goals for 5, goals against 6.

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