Monday, January 3, 2011

Matches of the Century: World Cup 1954 Hungary Uruguay

Stade La Pontaise, Lausanne
Wednesday, 30 June 1954 
Attendance: 37,000
Referee: Benjamin Griffiths

Overwhelming favourites to win the 1954 World Cup, Hungary arrived in Lausanne for their semi-final against Uruguay having suffered only one defeat in the preceding four years. Their opponents were defending champions, and had never lost a World Cup match in their history, winning both previous tournaments they had entered. One record had to give, and the stage was set for a match which would go down in history as one of the greatest football matches ever played.

Codec H264, Mkv
Resume 41mnts

Hungary were without their biggest star Ferenc Puskas, who had been injured in the group stages, but still started much the brighter side on a pitch left very heavy by rain earlier in the day. Just before the quarter-hour mark, a flick-on in the penalty area fell to Zoltán Czibor who placed his shot into the back of the net to give the Europeans the lead. Uruguay gradually managed to fight their way back into the game, but were unable to even the scores before half-time and went into the interval still trailing 1-0.

Almost immediately after the restart, Uruguay's grip on their title was loosened even further. Hungary seized on a poor defensive clearance and when the ball was launched into the box, Nandor Hidegkuti dived for a ball which seemed to be out of his reach and was just able to make contact with it, heading his team into a 2-0 lead. Uruguay's unbeaten World Cup record seemed to be over, but they still had nearly a full 45 minutes to recover.

The match went into extra-time, but any thoughts that the Hungarians would be demoralised by the loss of their two goal lead quickly evaporated. Appearing to have much more energy left than their opponents, Hungary retook the lead midway through the second period of extra-time when Sandor Kocsis headed home from close range. This time, the fading Uruguayans had no reply when Kocsis again got his head to a cross four minutes from time, the contest was over. Uruguay were beaten 4-2, their first ever World Cup loss, while Hungary went on to their second final where despite taking an early 2-0 lead they were surprisingly beaten 3-2 by West Germany.

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