Four years after Maradona and Argentina had put in a disappointing performance in the 1982 World Cup, and their forces were defeated in the Falklands War, Argentina were openly out for revenge. And in their quarter final against England they found their perfect victim.
England had been improving as the tournament progressed. They had begun with a defeat to Portugal and a draw against Morocco, which drew much criticism back home.
In their final group game, England’s star striker Gary Lineker suddenly came to life and bagged himself a hat-trick against Poland and then two more in the second round against Paraguay.
Maradona and Argentina made no secret of their motivation for this clash, and they looked the more skilful and determined of the two sides from the outset. They created plenty of chances, but couldn’t find the net, so the game was goalless at half time.
Just after half-time Maradona cut inside from the left and attempted a one-two with Jorge Valdano, but his pass found Steve Hodge instead, who sliced when attempting to clear and the ball looped up high into the air while Maradona had continued his run.
The Argentine number 10 somehow beat the much taller Shilton to the ball by using his left hand to score.
The officials appeared to be the only people who missed it. Even the Argentine players looked reluctant to celebrate, Maradona encouraged them to do so quickly in fear the officials might cotton on to his moment of mischief.
The goal stood and it was Argentina 1 – 0 England.
With England still reeling from Maradona’s controversial first, Maradona strikes again, this time scoring one of the greatest goals of all-time:
I’ll leave the description to Bryon Butler’s commentary on BBC radio at the time:
Maradona, turns like a little eel, he comes away from trouble, little
squab man, comes inside Butcher and leaves him for dead, outside Fenwick
and leaves him for dead, and puts the ball away…
and that is why Maradona is the greatest player in the world…
he buried the English defence, he picked up that ball 40 yards out,
first he left one man for dead, then we went past Sansom, it’s a goal of great
quality by a player of the greatest quality.
It’s England 0, Argentina 2:
the first goal should never have been allowed, but Maradona has put a seal on his
greatness. He’s left his footprint on this World Cup. He scored
a goal that England just couldn’t cope with, they couldn’t face up
to, it was beyond their ability…
it’s England 0, Diego Maradona 2.
What Happened Next?
Despite Lineker scoring again in the tournament to finish as top scorer, Argentina held on to win 2-1. As we saw in 63, they went onto beat Belgium with Maradona scoring another brace.
Argentina then beat West Germany 3-2 in the final to lift the World Cup for the second time. They have lost two finals since then, both to Germany.
Argentine radio commentary of the goal: