The quarter finals: "a black day for South America"
England would make history, beating Argentina 1-0 to reach their first semi-final, but the match gained attention for more negative reasons. The correspondent gave a damning indictment of the game, concluding that “If England won narrowly, football itself lost widely”: “The 88,000 crowd hooted and booed, cheered and laughed in succession as the travesty of pushing, jostling, chopping, holding and tripping unwound”. IN fairness to the writer, he did point out that England were just as bad as Argentina, but the crowd were lucky that “an afternoon of brilliant sunshine that was draped in black came to a merciful end” at the final whistle. A seven-minute stoppage just before halftime saw players and officials nearly reach physical blows, with sympathy shown for the crowd, where “Thousands of pounds had been expended on a farce” [view article]. So much for the good discipline!
The match would also land Alf Ramsay in trouble afterwards, prompting FIFA to call for disciplinary action against him after a television interview in which he said “Our best football will come against the team who come out to play football and not act as animals”, which FIFA felt were remarks that “did not foster good international relations in football” [view article].
This was not exclusive to the England vs. Argentina match, in what was described as “a black day for South America”. West Germany beat Uruguay 4-1, with little sympathy for the latter from either the press or the crowd in attendance: “In five minutes of indiscipline early in the second half, they abandoned any claim to sympathy from spectators and all hope of survival to the semi-finals”. After Uruguay had their captain sent off for kicking the referee, they had a second player dismissed, leaving West Germany to pick them apart.
In the other two quarter finals, Russia beat Hungary 2-1 in an unspectacular match, while the match of the round was undoubtedly Portugal’s against North Korea, ending 5-3 to the Portuguese. North Korea scored three times in the first 25 minutes, displaying “neat constructive work”, but Portugal’s Eusebio would step up and almost single-handedly turn the game around. Scoring four goals and setting up the fifth, the opening line of the report says it all: “Eusebio; one word, one name is enough to explain Portugal’s climb from the trough of adversity to tomorrow night’s semi-final against England”. England knew who they needed to keep an eye on.