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22 JUNE 1986: An eventful day for England and Spain in the Mexico World Cup

The punch captured.
The punch captured. / REUTERS
  • In a quarter-final match between England and Argentina, Diego Maradona infamously punched the football into the net, scoring a goal for Argentina

The 1986 World Cup in Mexico is famous for two phenomena in world football. The first is the Mexican wave, an effect resembling a moving wave produced by spectators in a stadium standing up, raising their arms, lowering them, and sitting down again in turn. The second is Argentina's victory over England. The World Cup was originally going to be hosted by Colombia but in November 1982, four years before the World Cup was due to start, the South American nation withdrew its bid due to financial difficulties. FIFA Executive Committee officials then voted unanimously for Mexico.

On 22 June, as Felipe González was winning his second term as prime minister in the general election back home, the Spanish national team was knocked out in the quarter finals. They faced Belgium, one of the favourites to win the tournament, which had two players included in the FIFA All-Star Team, goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff and midfielder Jan Ceulemans. Ceulemans scored in the 35th minute and it looked as if the match would be decided by that one goal until Juan Antonio Señor managed to equalise in the 85th minute, much to the delight of La Roja fans. After extra time, the match came down to a penalty shootout which Belgium won 5-4 after Eloy failed to score against Pfaff. Strangely, the result in the tournament (8th) was better than their performance at the previous World Cup, which was hosted in Spain itself (12th).

On the same day, England faced Argentina in another quarter-final. Argentina's 2-1 victory is remembered for the two goals from Diego Maradona which would ultimately settle a contest simmering with political overtones. Four years earlier, Britain and Argentina had fought in the South Atlantic over the Falkland Islands, which ended in defeat for Argentina. Six minutes into the second half, a miscued clearance from England's Steve Hodge fell towards Maradona. England goalkeeper Peter Shilton came out of his goal to punch the ball clear. Maradona reached for the ball with his outside left hand. The ball went into the goal. Referee Ali Bin Nasser of Tunisia claimed he did not see the incident and allowed the goal.

Argentina's second goal would be voted 'Goal of the Century' in 2002. Maradona began a 60-yard, 10-second dash towards the England goal, passing four English outfield players: Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher (twice) and Terry Fenwick. Maradona finished the move with a feint that made England goalkeeper Peter Shilton fall over, before slotting the ball into the net to make the score 2-0 to Argentina. England then brought on two strikers but Gary Lineker could only score a consolation goal.

The tournament was won by Argentina, who were world champions for the second time after defeating West Germany 3-2.