The 5 Greatest World Cup Finals of All Time

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With the tournament returning next year in Qatar, it time to look at the five most iconic World Cup finals of all time.

England celebrate the 1966 World Cup win.

The World Cup final remains the biggest and most iconic match in football and there have certainly been some classic encounters since the tournament’s inception in 1930, but which games have made it onto this list?

West Germany 4-2 Hungary – 1954

The 1954 World Cup was supposed to belong to Hungary, who were regarded as the best team on the planet at the time, boasting star names such as Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Kocsis.

Led by legendary coach Gusztav Sebes, Hungary certainly lived up to their billing en route to the final, running in a staggering 25 goals in just four matches, including eight as they thrashed West Germany during the group stage.

It was West Germany that awaited Hungary in the final, and the favourites raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening eight minutes, but the underdogs had not read the script, as a brace from Helmut Rahn and a Max Morlock strike helped them seal a shock comeback win and a first world title for Die Mannschaft.

Brazil 5-2 Sweden – 1958

The 1958 final saw the world introduced to Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or Pele as we know him, who at just 17 played a starring role in Brazil’s first success on the global stage, scoring a total of six goals, including two in the final against hosts Sweden.

This was the first truly fabulous Brazilian team, as alongside Pele, the likes of Vava, Garrincha and Mario Zagallo all shone – with the latter going on to manage the Selecao to World Cup glory in 1970.

Brazil had famously missed out on World Cup glory on home soil eight years previously, but there was never any doubt this time around, as the final produced a record seven goals, as well as the arrival of one of the greatest players ever to grace the game.

England 4-2 West Germany – 1966

The World Cup came home for the first and so far only time for the 1966 finals in England, with the hosts going on to beat West Germany 4-2 in the final after extra time at Wembley.

Geoff Hurst was the star of the show for England, becoming the first, and so far only man to ever score a hattrick in a World Cup final, with his two goals in extra time sealing the success.

Of course, there was the controversy regarding whether one of Hurst’s goals crossed the line – England supporters still remember Soviet linesman Tofiq Bahramov fondly.

However, there was no doubting the legitimacy of Hurst’s third goal, which also yielded arguably the most iconic commentary in football history from the BBC’s Kenneth Wolstenholme.

“And here comes Hurst. He’s got… some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over. It is now! It’s four!”

Brazil 4-1 Italy – 1970

Brazil made it three World Cup successes out of four and they were allowed to keep the Jules Rimet Trophy following their emphatic 4-1 victory over Italy in the 1970 final in Mexico City.

This was arguably the greatest international side to have ever been, with Pele in his pomp and ably supported by the likes of Tostao, Rivellino and Jairzinho – the latter scoring in every match at these finals.

Italy had gone into the final 25 minutes of the contest still level at 1-1 after Roberto Boninsegna had cancelled out Pele’s early opener, but strikes from Gerson and Jairzinho took the game away from the Azzurri, before Brazil captain Carlos Alberto scored one of the best team goals off all time to seal the victory.

Italy 1-1 France – Italy Won 5-3 on Penalties – 2006

Some of the more recent World Cup finals have perhaps proved cagier affairs, but there have still been plenty of memorable moments, perhaps no more so than when Italy and France went head-to-head in the 2006 final in Berlin.

This was billed as the Zinedine Zidane final, as the France captain was set to retire from playing after the match, and he had Les Bleus in front during the first half only for Italy defender Marco Materazzi to equalise soon after.

There was no further scoring as the game went into extra time, but with just minutes remaining, Zidane was sent off after headbutting Materazzi in the chest following alleged comments made by the defender.

The scene of Zidane walking past the trophy as he left the field is an iconic one, and his team-mates could not overcome losing their talisman, as Italy won the resulting penalty shootout 5-3, with Fabio Grosso scoring the winner.

A fountain of knowledge on football, Tom offers a particular in-depth expertise in EFL and European leagues.
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