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Pele was again battered, this time by Bulgaria and Portugal as Brazil's bid for a hat-trick faltered. England, shrewdly managed by Alf (later Sir Alf) Ramsey, beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time in a thrilling final at Wembley, when Geoff Hurst made history with a hat-trick, including the most controversial goal ever scored. Did the ball really cross the line after bouncing down from the crossbar? The debate still rages.
An enormous popular success in England and elsewhere, the World Cup took on another dimension in 1966. On the pitch, the host nation England ran out the winners, leaving some of their opponents feeling hard done by.
Notable first-time qualifiers were the Portuguese, who reached the finals despite being drawn in the same group as Czechoslovakia, finalists four years earlier. The English, in front of their own crowd and the cameras of the BBC, were, needless to say, among the tournament favourites. Playing proficiently and without conceding a goal, they won through to the quarter-finals, drawing 0-0 against Uruguay, winning 2-0 against Mexico and 2-0 again against France. But the big news of the first round was the elimination of the title-holder, Brazil. After beating Bulgaria, Pele and his team-mates went down to Hungary and then the surprise team, Portugal. And once again Pele was a victim of over-physical play on the part of defenders. Injured against Bulgaria, he missed the Hungary game before again being carried off against Portugal.
Champions on home soil
Among those qualifying for the second round were the North Koreans, who surprised everybody by knocking out the Italians and then taking a three-nil lead over the Portuguese in the tournament's most dazzling match. Portugal fought back and eventually triumphed (5-3), with Eusebio supplying four of the goals. The rest of the tournament, however, failed to maintain this momentum. The English, who had the distinct advantage of playing all their games at Wembley, eventually won the title, beating Germany (4-2) after extra-time in the final, and Captain Bobby Moore led this team to the royal box to receive the trophy from Queen Elizabeth.
Sources: FIFA Archives; CFO France 98; Ian Morrison: The World Cup - A Complete Record 1930-1990. Breedon Books, Derby (UK) 1990.; John Robinson: Soccer - The World Cup 1930-1998. Soccer Books Limited, Lincolnshire (UK) 1998