1982 World Cup: How Algeria stunned West Germany, fell to an epic swindle

1982 World Cup: How Algeria stunned West Germany, fell to an epic swindle
Above, a family picture of the Algerian team for the 1982 World Cup in Spain. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 13 June 2020

1982 World Cup: How Algeria stunned West Germany, fell to an epic swindle

1982 World Cup: How Algeria stunned West Germany, fell to an epic swindle
  • The Germans, with a little help from Austria, would have the last laugh thanks to the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’

DUBAI: The 1982 World Cup in Spain has a strong claim to being one of the best ever. It boasted a stellar line-up of individual players, three great teams, a series of legendary matches, and great weather. It is likely most remembered, however, for its semi-final controversy, its major scandal and, arguably, the greatest World Cup shock of all time.

Algeria had landed in Spain hoping to at least emulate Tunisia’s achievement four years earlier by winning a World Cup match at their first time participating in one.

But everyone could agree that victory was unlikely to come against mighty West Germany, reigning European champions and, as ever, one of the favorites to win the competition.

It probably would not come against Austria either. Perhaps, it would come in what was likely to be a dead rubber against Chile in their last group match.

Which shows just how wrong everyone can be.

Algeria had reached the semi-finals of the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations in Libya only three months earlier, before losing to eventual winners Ghana. But Rachid Mekhloufi’s team had bigger fish to fry and had timed their momentum to perfection. 

The Germans, having drawn against Tunisia at Argentina 78, inexplicably chose to belittle Algeria in the run up to the match on June 16, 1982 at the Estadio El Molinón in Gijon, a city that would come to represent the greatest and most harrowing moments in the African nation’s football history.

“If we don't beat Algeria, we’ll take the next train home,” said coach Jupp Derwall, clearly a man who does not believe in tempting fate. Or, for that matter, researching the opposition. 

Famously, one player found a way to be even more condescending: “We will dedicate our seventh goal to our wives, and the eighth to our dogs.”

Their expectant dogs would not have enjoyed what came next.




West German defender Paul Breitner, left, tries to control the ball under pressure from Algerian midfielder Mustapha Dahleb during the World Cup first round football match which Algeria won over West Germany, 2-1, on June 16, 1982 in Gijon, Spain. (AFP file photo)

West Germany quite simply could not have imagined they would be up against a team of such caliber. 

Algeria more than matched the favorites in the first half, playing fast, one-touch football that had the Germans defending far more than they had expected. The first half finished goal-less, Derwall’s team well behind the pre-match target of eight goals they had set for themselves.

The second half would prove a revelation for Algeria and, it is no exaggeration to say, one of the finest performances of the whole tournament.

On 54 minutes, the brilliant Rabah Madjer — who, playing for Porto, would five years later haunt Bayern Munich in a European Cup final — reacted most quickly after a shot from Lakhdar Belloumi was saved by Harald Schunacher to give Algeria a deserved lead.

There was plenty of time for the Germans to do what they usually do, and sure enough the comeback was underway when Karl-Heinz Rummenigge equalized from close range on 67 minutes. Business as usual now, the Germans must have thought.

Far from being disheartened, however, Algerian players immediately conjured a minor football miracle in every sense. 

From the kickoff, a brilliant 10-pass move concluded with Belloumi getting on the end of Salah Assad’s low cross to restore the lead. It was an astonishing goal, worthy of winning any match.

This time, the German players, and presumably wives and pets, were truly stunned.

And there would be no retreat, no settling from a rampant Algeria who spent the rest of the match looking for more goals. They got close several times and never more than when the outstanding Chaabane Merzekane almost finished off a remarkable run from his own half by scoring a third, only to be denied by Schumacher, who had another date with destiny awaiting him later in the competition.

At the final whistle, the Algerian players and substitutes celebrated disbelievingly as the German players trudged off in embarrassment.

Algeria’s 2-1 win arguably surpassed previous World Cup shocks like the USA’s 1-0 triumph over England in 1950, or North Korea beating Italy in 1966, as the unlikeliest of all time.

Having posted two points from a match they were expected to lose, the Algerians were suddenly in the novel position where qualifying from the group stage was a genuine possibility. 

But when they faced Austria five days later at Estadio Carlos Tartiere in Oviedo, there would be no repeat of the Miracle of Gijon. Lacking the element of surprise, and no doubt drained by their extraordinary efforts against West Germany, Algeria conceded two second-half goals from Walter Schachner and Austrian legend Hans Krankl, finding themselves third in the group after two rounds of matches.

Austria led the group with four points, while the Germans edged Algeria in second place on goal difference after recovering from the opening match shock to beat Chile 4-1.

It was all down to the last round of matches, and the permutations were many.

On June 24, Algeria recorded a dramatic 3-2 win over Chile, which in hindsight could and should have been far more comprehensive. And decisive.

Algeria had stormed into a three-goal lead after 35 minutes thanks to two goals by Assad and Tedj Bensoula. At that point, they had one foot in the next second round. However, two second-half goals by Miguel Angel Neira and substitute Juan Carlos Letelier left them hanging on for a slender win. 

With four points but a goal difference of zero, they were now at the mercy of the outcome of the match between West Germany and Austria, taking place the following day. And how they would pay for it.

An Austrian win or a draw would see Algeria qualify and West Germany head home nine days after they promised they would. A German win of less than two goals, however, would see the European neighbors through and the African debutants exit.

What followed came to be known as the “Disgrace of Gijon”.

Horst Hrubesch scored for West Germany after only 10 minutes, before … nothing happened.

For 80 minutes, Austria and West Germany shamefully sleepwalked their way to a scoreline that was adequate for both teams and that conspired to knock out the gallant, and helpless, Algerians.

Outrage and condemnation came from all quarters. The German media and fans were incensed. And so was the rest of the world.

Hyperbolically, the world’s media cried “El Anschluss,” referring to Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938.

The incident forced FIFA into a major change: In ensuing World Cups, the last group matches would both be played at the same time. Sadly, that was of little consolation for the Algerians.

West Germany controversially overcame France on penalties in the semi-final after a dramatic 3-3 draw, with Schumacher’s brutal assault on Patrick Battiston leaving the French substitute unconscious, with an injured vertebrae, missing teeth and later in a coma (which he would thankfully recover from). To the delight of many, they lost the final against Italy.

Algeria headed home as heartbroken heroes. They had done all they could to become the first Arab or African nation to progress from the World Cup group stages, but that historic achievement had been cruelly snatched from them by an act of footballing skullduggery.

They would be back. But Spain 82 remains by far Algeria’s most memorable World Cup to date. For all the right and wrong reasons.


Valencia fans protest against Singaporean owner Peter Lim

Valencia fans protest against Singaporean owner Peter Lim
Updated 55 min 28 sec ago

Valencia fans protest against Singaporean owner Peter Lim

Valencia fans protest against Singaporean owner Peter Lim
  • Supporters of Valencia club called for the wealthy businessman to sell his shares and leave the club he has owned since 2014
  • Fans have been upset with recent comments by owner Peter Lim that belittled the supporters and downplayed their importance

MADRID: Thousands of Valencia fans gathered outside the team’s Mestalla Stadium to protest against Singaporean owner Peter Lim on Saturday.
Supporters of the Spanish club called for the wealthy businessman to sell his shares and leave the club he has owned since 2014.
The fans, who displayed banners saying “The future is ours,” have been upset with recent comments by Lim that belittled the supporters and downplayed their importance.
Valencia fans have been unhappy with Lim’s administration and often accuse him of running the club solely as a business.
The protests came a few days after Manchester United fans protested against American owner Joel Glazer, forcing the postponement of the team’s English Premier League game against Liverpool. The protests prompted Glazer to publish a letter in which he pledged to accelerate discussions with fans about supporters being able to have a greater say at the club.
Valencia plays a Spanish league match against Valladolid at home on Sunday. The club sits 14th in the 20-team standings, six points above the relegation zone.


England could host Champions League final due to new Turkey travel curbs

Chelsea and Manchester City are due to meet on May 29 in Istanbul and UEFA was hoping to allow around 10,000 fans into the biggest club game of the European football season. (AP/File Photo)
Chelsea and Manchester City are due to meet on May 29 in Istanbul and UEFA was hoping to allow around 10,000 fans into the biggest club game of the European football season. (AP/File Photo)
Updated 08 May 2021

England could host Champions League final due to new Turkey travel curbs

Chelsea and Manchester City are due to meet on May 29 in Istanbul and UEFA was hoping to allow around 10,000 fans into the biggest club game of the European football season. (AP/File Photo)
  • British government on Friday warned supporters not to travel to Turkey after imposing the new travel restrictions

LONDON: The all-English Champions League final could be played at home after Turkey was added to England’s “red list” of countries where all but essential travel is banned due to severe coronavirus outbreaks.
Chelsea and Manchester City are due to meet on May 29 in Istanbul and UEFA was hoping to allow around 10,000 fans into the biggest club game of the European football season.
But the British government on Friday warned supporters not to travel to Turkey after imposing the new travel restrictions, and said the English Football Association was in talks with Champions League organizer UEFA about staging the game in Britain, instead.
The most logical English venue to move the game to is Wembley with the London stadium staging eight games of the European Championship across June and July, so it has UEFA’s required logistics and broadcasting infrastructure already in place. Wembley was also already due to stage the 2024 Champions League final so it could be moved up three years.
While Villa Park in the central England city of Birmingham has been floated as an option, it is an older stadium that would require significant infrastructure being installed to reach UEFA requirements.
“We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA,” British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said. “The UK has already got a successful track record of football matches with spectators, so we are well placed to do it.
“Given there are two English clubs in that final, we look forward to what they have to say.”
Turkey is in the second week of a three-week national lockdown and government figures show coronavirus cases are declining but 20,107 new infections were announced on Friday and 278 deaths. The vaccine rollout in Britain meant the country recorded 2,490 cases on Friday and 15 deaths.
People from England should visit only red-list countries “in the most extreme of circumstances,” Shapps said. Anyone returning from them must stay in hotels for 10 days at their own expense, with meals delivered to their door.
Players would also be required to enter quarantine, unless exemptions were granted, which would impact their preparations for the European Championship, which opens on June 11 and is being staged across 10 countries.
If the Champions League final was moved to Wembley, the English Football League would have to accept moving the date of the Championship playoff to determine the final promotion place to the Premier League, which is scheduled to be played at the stadium on May 29.
Wembley in recent weeks has staged the only football games with fans in England in 2021 as part of test events, with the crowd for the FA Cup final on May 15 rising to 21,000 people who have to produce a negative coronavirus test.
At least 22,500 fans will be allowed into the three group-stage Euro 2020 games at Wembley in June, with the 90,000-capacity Wembley set to be half-full for the final on July 11.
The pandemic already prevented Istanbul staging the 2020 Champions League final with the game moved to Lisbon to be played in an empty stadium.


Saudi Pro League title race swings Al-Hilal’s way after heavy defeat of Al-Shabab

Saudi Pro League title race swings Al-Hilal’s way after heavy defeat of Al-Shabab
Updated 08 May 2021

Saudi Pro League title race swings Al-Hilal’s way after heavy defeat of Al-Shabab

Saudi Pro League title race swings Al-Hilal’s way after heavy defeat of Al-Shabab
  • The reigning champions are now three points clear with four matches left in pursuit of a 17th championship

RIYADH: The Saudi Professional League title looks to be heading in a familiar direction after Al-Hilal took a huge step towards a record 17th championship on Friday night by beating Al-Shabab 5-1 in Riyadh.

The two teams started their top of the table clash level on points but now, with four games remaining, the defending champions are three points clear with a hugely superior goal difference. There is still plenty to play for, but if Al-Hilal lift that trophy they will look back at the few minutes at the end of the first half as a turning point.

As the clock reached the 45minute mark, Al-Hilal were 2-1 up in what was an entertaining end-to-end clash, but two incidents in stoppage time changed the course of the match.

First, Al-Shabab’s Argentine playmaker Ever Banega received a second yellow card to reduce the hosts to 10 men, and then moments later Al-Hilal’s Argentine star Luciano Vietto scored with a delightful chip to make it 3-1. There was no coming back from that. Al-Shabab had their moments in the second half but were caught out by the leaders to receive what can only be described as a thrashing.

Al-Shabab coach Carlos Inarejos was left lamenting Banega’s red card.

“The match was finely balanced and both teams were creating opportunities to score but Banega’s dismissal made it difficult for us,” said the Spaniard. “We have to remember that Al-Hilal have been playing in the AFC Champions League while we have not had a competitive game for 27 days, and that period affected us.”

The win will be celebrated by new Al-Hilal coach Jose Morais, even if the Portuguese boss, appointed last week to replace Rogerio Micale, was not on the sidelines. Jose Mourinho’s former assistant is still in quarantine after arriving in Riyadh, leaving coach Abdullatif Al-Husseini in charge on the pitch.

Al-Hilal’s one-man advantage in the second half meant that they did not have to worry about fatigue after the hectic schedule of six games in two weeks.

“I am pleased with our performance,” Al-Husseini said. “Banega’s dismissal did make it easier for us but we were superior from the start, I thought.”

Al-Husseini, who revealed he had consulted closely with Morais on video, said that he understood the fans’ feelings after the disappointing performances in the Champions League.

“We know we can do better and the players had a strong desire to win and to show the fans what they are made of, and they did that from the first minute,” he said.

Al-Hilal’s star striker Bafetimbi Gomis opened the scoring after three minutes with a fine header from a corner, though almost instantly Fabio Martins swept home from the edge of the area to make it 1-1. Midway through the first half, Hassan Tambakti handled in the area and Gomis made no mistake from the spot to become the first foreign player to score 100 goals in all competitions for Al-Hilal in just 126 games for the club.

Ten minutes before the break, Al-Shabab had the chance to level the scoreline but striker Christian Guanca chose to pass when through on goal and Al-Hilal snuffed the danger out. Soon after, Banega was dismissed and Vietto scored and the contest was virtually over.

“The referee killed the game but I don’t want to talk about that,” said Odion Ighalo, Al-Shabab’s striker, who arrived in January from Manchester United. “We played well in the first half but when you play with 10 men against a team like Al-Hilal, then you are going to find it very difficult. There is still a lot to play for, however.”

Next Friday, the two teams are in action again with Al-Shabab going to Al-Ettifaq and Al-Hilal hosting Al-Batin.

Coach Inarejos is still optimistic about Al-Shabab’s chances of winning their first championship since 2012, which would be their seventh overall.

“The league is not over yet,” he said. “There are four matches remaining, and we still have a chance of winning the title. We will bounce back from this.”

But the ball is now in Al-Hilal’s court.

“I told the players in the dressing room that nothing has been decided yet in terms of the title but we are delighted with the result and the performance,” said Al-Husseini. “From now though, every game is like a final for us.”

 

 


La Liga fever pitch, Bayern on brink and French derby — what to watch in Europe

La Liga fever pitch, Bayern  on brink and French derby — what to watch in Europe
Updated 08 May 2021

La Liga fever pitch, Bayern on brink and French derby — what to watch in Europe

La Liga fever pitch, Bayern  on brink and French derby — what to watch in Europe
  • Protagonists Barcelona, Atletico seek momentum needed to go on and claim title

PARIS: Barcelona host Atletico Madrid while Real Madrid face Sevilla as La Liga’s title race enters the final straight; Bayern Munich can secure a ninth consecutive Bundesliga crown while Ligue 1 leaders Lille should expect no favors from northern rivals and European hopefuls Lens.

Here’s some of the standout action in Europe this weekend:

Barcelona vs.Atletico Madrid, Saturday 1415 GMT

Atletico may have the two-point cushion at the top in Spain, but Diego Simeone’s side have been limping towards the finish line in their bid to break up the Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly.

Atletico’s lead was spared only by a missed penalty at the end of a 1-0 win over Elche, coming days after Barcelona missed a chance to dislodge them following a shock home loss to Granada.

While it might not be a winner-takes-all clash like the 2014 showdown at Camp Nou on the final day of the season, when a 1-1 draw handed Atletico the trophy, victory could give either club the momentum needed to go on and claim the title.

Real Madrid vs. Sevilla, Sunday 1900 GMT

Madrid’s shortcomings were laid bare in a subdued Champions League semifinal defeat at Chelsea, signaling the end for an ageing team clearly in need of rejuvenation.

Images of Eden Hazard joking with former teammates have, predictably, irked Madrid fans. An anonymous display at Stamford Bridge was simply another forgettable chapter in the Belgian’s miserable spell with the Spanish giants.

All is not lost though for Zinedine Zidane’s old guard, as the reigning Spanish champions could still retain their domestic crown. But they have the toughest run-in, starting with the visit of a Sevilla side desperate to keep their flickering title hopes alive.

Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach, Saturday 1630 GMT

Julian Nagelsmann will take over at Bayern next season, but the job isn’t quite finished yet for outgoing coach Hansi Flick in Bavaria.

The summer promises to be one of sweeping changes for Bayern, with Jerome Boateng and David Alaba both out of contract in the summer and long-serving midfielder Javi Martinez departing the Allianz Arena as well.

Before then, however, Bayern will look to seal a ninth successive German title with victory at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach.

They could even be crowned before kicking off if RB Leipzig lose at Borussia Dortmund, in a dress rehearsal for the German Cup final on May 13.

Lens vs. Lille, Friday 1900 GMT

Lille are three wins from a first French title since 2011, and fourth overall. Of their three remaining games, the clash against neighboring Lens appears the most testing.

“It’s much important than just a regular derby for us. Lens have ambitions but so do we. We must not put pressure on ourselves, and take the three games left one after another,” said Lille’s Turkish striker Burak Yilmaz, hardened by the experience of numerous Istanbul derbies.

Lens are out for revenge after a 4-0 humbling in the reverse fixture as they try to stay ahead of the contenders for the final European place.

“We can’t say our goals have been met because we want to reach higher,” said Gael Kakuta, Lens’ top scorer with 11 goals this term. “And if we can rob Lille of the title, that would be good too!”

Juventus vs. AC Milan, Sunday 1845 GMT

Juventus, with their nine-year reign ended, and AC Milan, whose title pursuit fizzled out following a considerable downturn in 2021, find themselves fighting to secure a place in the Champions League.

Both clubs are level on 69 points with second-placed Atalanta, with Napoli on 67 and Lazio, who have a game in hand, on 64 going into the last four rounds.

Former Milan and Juventus coach Fabio Capello believes a loss for either side in Turin would see them miss out on Europe’s top club competition.

“I think the psychological repercussions of a defeat would be very heavy,” he told Corriere della Sera.


Hamilton tops second practice in Spanish Grand Prix

Hamilton tops  second practice in  Spanish Grand Prix
Updated 08 May 2021

Hamilton tops second practice in Spanish Grand Prix

Hamilton tops  second practice in  Spanish Grand Prix
  • Hamilton will be aiming for his 100th career pole on Saturday

MONTMELO, Spain: Lewis Hamilton looked poised to continue his dominance of the Spanish Grand Prix after clocking the fastest time during the second practice session on Friday.

Formula One leader Hamilton had a flying lap of 1 minute, 18.170 seconds. Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was .139 seconds behind Hamilton after the Finn set the fastest time in the first practice session. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, seen as the main challenger to Hamilton’s reign as world champion, finished only ninth fastest at .615 off the pace. Verstappen missed some time on the track while his team worked on the car, and his last lap was cut short when he damaged the right tip of his front wing.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had the third-best time, followed by Alpine pair Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, who is back in Spain for his first race since 2018.

Only eight points separate Hamilton from Verstappen at the top of the standings after they finished 1-2 in the first three races.

Hamilton won the season-opener in Bahrain and last week’s race in Portugal. Verstappen won the season’s second race in Italy.

On Saturday, Hamilton will be aiming for his 100th career pole.

On Sunday, he will be looking to equal Michael Schumacher’s six wins in Montmelo.