Estadio Universitario, Monterrey, 17.06.1986
Morocco

1-0 (0-0)
Matthäus 87. / –

Germany’s second-place finish in Group E would turn out to be a blessing in disguise; having secured goalless draws against both Poland and England, surprise package Morocco had destroyed a demoralised Portuguese side 3-1, setting up a second phase clash in the university city of Monterrey against the Nationalmannschaft.

This was actually not the first World Cup Finals meeting between these two sides; in 1970 the German team containing such legends as Beckenbauer, Uwe Seeler and Gerd Müller had won a close encounter 2-1, coming back from behind with Der Bomber snatching the win some twelve minutes from time.

Germany’s record against North African opposition was not that great – only four years earlier the the team that had qualified with eight wins out of eight and a goals for/against record of 33/3 had been on the end of an embarrassing 2-1 defeat by Algeria that had turned the form book on its head. Given the Moroccans’ thrashing of the Portuguese, they were a side not to be taken lightly; they had shown talent in front of goal and had a star goalkeeper in Badou Zaki.

Morocco’s progress meant that they were the first team from the African continent to make it through past the first phase of the World Cup, though everybody expected their advance to end in Monterrey against the German side that would no doubt prove too strong and experienced – and so it would prove, but not without more huff and puff from the men in Schwarz und Weiß.

A number of tactical and personnnel changes would be made to the side that had made the starting eleven in the group phase; In what was a new and more offensive 1-3-3-3 formation, Ditmar Jakobs retained his place at sweeper at the expense of Klaus Augenthaler, Hans-Peter Briegel was brought back into the side to join Thomas Berthold and Kalle Förster as part of a new defensive triumvirate, Norbert Eder was moved into midfield with Lothar Matthäus and the recalled Felix Magath, and the fit-again skipper Karlheinz Rummenigge would join Rudi Völler and Klaus Allofs in what looked to be a potent three-pronged front line.

As this match kicked off in the mid-afternoon Mexican time, it started around 11pm here in Britain; on account of my previous form I decided to cut my losses and listen to the live commentary on the radio instead. I couldn’t find anything on any of the British stations, but managed to tune in to some rather scratchy-sounding commentary on Deutsche Welle; naturally I had to wait until the following day to watch the highlights.

Morocco would adopt the same defensive tactics as they had done for their earlier group stage games against Poland and England, both of which had ended goalless. In spite of having three men up front, Franz Beckenbauer’s side would fail to make any real impression as the Moroccans retained a high level of discipline and stuck to what was clearly a well-worked gameplan; the few opportunities that did arise were quickly snuffed out by the impressive Zaki.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has a spectacular overhead effort against Morocco in Monterrey

As the match wore on in the late afternoon Monterrey heat, it looked as though this game too would end up 0-0, ensuring a further thirty minutes of energy-sapping extra time and the possibility of a penalty shoot-out.

In the end it took one inspired moment three minutes from the end for Beckenbauer’s rapidly-tiring German side to beat Zaki and unlock the tight and well-drilled Moroccan defence; after the buccaneering Rummenigge had been felled just outside the eighteen-yard box, Lothar Matthäus stepped up to fire a shot that skidded along the surface to beat the sprawling ‘keeper. Bathed in sweat, Matthäus ran up to the touchline and performed a cute short-stepping celebratory jig; with a place in the quarter-finals against hosts Mexico assured, all was forgiven for his backpass gaffe against Uruguay.

Interesting fact: of the 132 goals scored during the entire tournament, Matthäus’ strike was the only one from a direct free-kick. There’s one for the local pub quiz.

Germany FR: Schumacher – Jakobs – Berthold, Förster, Briegel – Matthäus, Magath, Eder – Rummenigge (c), Völler (73. Littbarski), Allofs

Morocco: Zaki – Bouyahyaoui – Khalifa, Ouadani – Lamris, El Haddaoui, Dolmy, Bouderbala – Timoumi, Khairi, Krimau

Referee: Zoran Petrović (Yugoslavia)
Assistants: Lajos Németh (Hungary), Horst Brummaier (Austria)

Yellow Cards: – / Lamris, Khalifa
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 19,800

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