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FIFA World Cup 2022 – News – Legends forged in European qualifiers

7 min read
FIFA World Cup 2022™ - News - Legends forged in European qualifiers
  • The UEFA preliminary draw for Qatar 2022 takes place on Monday 7 December
  • FIFA.com units the scene by reflecting on ten legendary European qualifiers
  • Part one features a Scottish legend, a Polish “clown” and a Bulgarian miracle

1. Sweden-Estonia, 1933: The first one of all of them

The success of the inaugural FIFA World Cup™ in Uruguay in 1930 led FIFA to organise a qualifying competitors for Italy 1934. Some 32 groups from three continents took half in the preliminaries, with Sweden and Estonia having the honour of contesting the very first World Cup qualifying match.

11 June 1933, Olympiastadion, Stockholm, Sweden 6-2 Estonia

Goals: Knut Kroon 7’, Lennart Bunke 10’, Bertil Ericsson 13’, Torsten Bunke 43’, Bertil Eriksson 70’, Sven Andersson 79’ pen (Sweden); Leonhard Kaas 47’, Richard Kuremaa 61’ (Estonia)

Sweden ahead Knut Kroon went down in historical past as the primary participant to attain in a FIFA World Cup™ qualifying match. The house facet had been 3-0 up inside quarter-hour, with Torsten Bunke including a fourth simply earlier than half-time. Though Leonhard Kaas and Richard Kuremaa pulled objectives again for the guests, the hosts truck twice extra to ship the 8,000 followers house completely satisfied.

The Swedes went on to beat Lithuania to clinch their place at Italy 1934, whereas Estonia have by no means come as near qualifying for the world finals since.

FIFA World Cup Programme - Italy 1934

© Getty Images

2. England-Poland, 1973: Ramsey’s males floored by a “clown”

England needed to beat Poland at house to qualify for Germany 1974. Despite mounting criticism of coach Sir Alf Ramsey – the person who had taken them to World Cup glory in 1966 – the Three Lions had been nonetheless anticipated to get the job executed.

Adding to the overall air of confidence had been the pre-match feedback made by the legendary coach Brian Clough, who would later lead Nottingham Forest to European glory. A TV pundit on the evening, Clough described Poland goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski as “a circus clown in gloves”, unconvinced by his unorthodox type. As England came upon, nevertheless, clowns can generally make you cry.

17 October 1973, Wembley, London, England 1-1 Poland

Goals: Allan Clarke 63’ pen (England); Jan Domarski 55’ (Poland)

Though England laid siege to the Polish aim from off, Tomaszewski repelled the whole lot they threw at him to maintain the sport goalless. Ten minutes into the second half, Poland took the lead. Wide man Grzegorz Lato was the architect, breaking clear down the left earlier than squaring the ball to Jan Domarski on the sting of the England field. Domarski struck the ball first time, his low drive squeezing beneath the diving Peter Shilton and into the again of the online.

Though Allan Clarke equalised from the penalty spot a couple of minutes later and the English resumed their bombardment, they may not discover the all-vital winner, regardless of having 35 aim makes an attempt to Poland’s two. The “clown” had had the final snicker.

Recalling the night, Tomaszewski mentioned: “I remember the last thing [Poland coach] Kazimierz Gorski said to us before the match: ‘You can play for the national team for 20 years and play a thousand games without anyone remembering you. But tonight you have the chance to go down in history’. And he was right. I didn’t have the greatest match of my life that night, no question. But I did have a lot of luck.”

Having been denied by the Polish keeper, England must wait till 1982 earlier than returning to the World Cup.

1973 World Cup Qualifier, Wembley Stadium, 17th October, 1973, England 1 v Poland 1, Poland's goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski makes one of his many saves to deny England a goal during their vital World Cup qualifier.

© Getty Images

3) Wales-Scotland, 1985: Tragedy follows euphoria for the Tartan Army

Instead of celebrating a end result that helped them take an enormous step in the direction of Mexico 1986, Scotland was a nation plunged into mourning when the legendary Jock Stein handed away on the finish of a dramatic recreation in Cardiff.

10 September 1985, Ninian Park, Cardiff, Wales 1-1 Scotland

Goals: Mark Hughes 13’ (Wales); Davie Cooper 81’ pen (Scotland)

Having certified for the earlier three World Cups, Scotland arrived in Cardiff needing some extent to safe second place in their group and a play-off assembly with Oceania representatives Australia. Standing in their approach had been Wales, who had crushed the Scots in Glasgow earlier in the group thanks, virtually inevitably, to a aim from Ian Rush, and who wanted a win to take the runners-up spot behind Spain.

Reflecting on that fateful evening, Sir Alex Ferguson, who was Stein’s assistant coach on the time, mentioned the stress was seen on his mentor’s face as kick-off approached. Mark Hughes’ thirteenth-minute opener for Wales solely elevated Scottish apprehension. With an hour gone, the previous Celtic coach made a courageous transfer, changing star man Gordon Strachan with Davie Cooper. The Rangers winger repaid Stein’s religion by pulling the Scots degree from the spot with simply 9 minutes remaining.

On listening to what he thought was the ultimate whistle, Stein rose from the dugout to shake fingers along with his reverse quantity, Mike England, solely to endure a coronary heart assault and collapse to the bottom. After being carried into the medical room at Ninian Park, he was pronounced lifeless a couple of minutes later.

Some 12,000 Scots had made the journey to Cardiff that day. Interviewed on tv, certainly one of them spoke for a nation: “We’d rather be out of the World Cup and have Big Jock back.”

10th September 1985, World Cup Qualifier, Cardiff, Wales, Wales 1 v Scotland 1, Scottish players Alan Rough (L) and Mo Johnston celebrate at the end of the match as they qualify for the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico, At right is assistant manager Alex Ferguson who realises that manager Jock Stein has collapsed.

© Getty Images

4) Republic of Ireland-Spain, 1989: Michel’s misfortune, Bonner’s brilliance

Absent from the primary 13 World Cups, Republic of Ireland didn’t make one of the best of begins to the qualifying event for no. 14, accumulating simply two factors from their opening three video games – all away from house. Worse nonetheless for the Boys in Green was that their subsequent opponents on the highway to Italy 1990 had been an in-kind Spain facet that had earned most factors from their first 5 video games in the group. But with Jack Charlton on the bench, something was doable. He was, in spite of everything, the person who had led them to UEFA EURO 1988, their first look at a serious worldwide competitors.

26 April 1989, Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Republic of Ireland 1-0 Spain

Goal: Michel 16’ og (Republic of Ireland)

Spain had handed the Irish a footballing lesson in Seville a number of months earlier, the two-0 scoreline barely reflecting their superiority on the evening. Charlton additionally needed to make do with out Liverpool striker John Aldridge, who missed the sport on compassionate grounds following the Hillsborough catastrophe, which had occurred just some days earlier. Urged on by a 50,000 crowd, nevertheless, Charlton’s facet put their opponents beneath stress from the kick-off. They had been rewarded in the sixteenth minute, when Michel, with Frank Stapleton lurking simply behind him, inadvertently turned Ray Houghton’s close to-publish cross into his personal web.

Spain did the whole lot they may to equalise, solely to seek out Pat Bonner in unbeatable kind between the posts. “We beat a great Spain team that night and there’s no doubt that it was the turning point for us in reaching Italia 90,” mentioned the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper afterwards. “I’d say it was one of the great nights at Lansdowne Road.”

Big Jack: The England legend who became an Irish icon

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Big Jack: The England legend who turned an Irish icon




5) France-Bulgaria, 1993: Kostadinov dashes Les Bleus’ American dream

With two house video games remaining in their USA 1994 qualifying group, France wanted only a level to undergo. They missed their first likelihood, dropping 3-2 to Israel, however had been assured of getting the job executed in opposition to Bulgaria, who wanted to win in the event that they had been to qualify.

17 November 1993, Parc des Princes, Paris, France 1-2 Bulgaria

Goals: Eric Cantona 32’ (France); Emil Kostadinov 37’, 90’ (Bulgaria)

Favourites to win, France duly took the lead on half-hour, when Jean-Pierre Papin nodded the ball throughout the field for Eric Cantona to fireside house. Five minutes later, the Bulgarians had been degree, Emil Kostadinov rising excessive at a nook to remind Les Bleus they weren’t in the USA but. With recollections of that loss to Israel nonetheless recent, the French appeared extra content material to accept a draw than to go for a win, a cautious strategy that the fitting one as time glided by. Then, with only a minute remaining, David Ginola received a free-kick deep in the Bulgarian half, proper subsequent to the nook flag.

Instead of holding the ball and utilizing up a number of extra very important seconds, the Paris Saint-Germain ahead selected to swing in a cross. He overhit it, handing possession straight again to the guests, who broke ahead at pace. Picking up possession on the midway line, Lyuboslav Penev chipped a pleasant ball into the trail of the charging Kostadinov, who made gentle of a good angle to thrash a half-volley in off the bar and previous the helpless Bernard Lama. The time on the clock was 44:58.

“The French were so scared they played with their buttocks clenched,” mentioned Bulgaria captain Hristo Stoichkov. “We knew that’s how they would be and we based our tactics on that. They played for a draw and never went looking for the win. They didn’t deserve to win and we hit them where it hurt most.” Stoichkov could be certainly one of Bulgaria’s heroes on their dramatic run at USA 1994 a number of months later.

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