Saudi Arabia’s thunderclap against Argentina (2-1) Tuesday in Doha is not the first in the sky of a World Cup, the victory of the United States over England in 1950 in South Korea-Italy of 2002.
1950: United States-England (1-0), the Haitian amateur
After shunning the first three editions of the World Cup, the inventors of football finally deign to participate. After a victory against Chile (2-0), the Three Lions let themselves be surprised by the American amateurs and a goal on a deviation from Joe Gaetjens, of Haitian origin. Too confident, the English coach Walter Winterbottom had spared his best player, Stanley Matthews, for this match which was to be only a formality. The Daily Express even proposed in its pages to leave “Team USA” three goals ahead. Humiliated, it was the last time England played with a blue shirt.
1966 – North Korea-Italy (1-0), and Pak!
The only team neither European nor South American in the World Cup, North Korea is a great unknown. Corrected by the USSR (3-0) and saved against Chile by an equalizer at the end of the match (1-1), it should not weigh heavily against the “Nazionale” of Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera. And yet Pak Doo-ik surprises the Italian defense with a cross shot. The public in the working-class town of Middlesbrough sided with the communist country, which moreover played in red like the local “Boro”. North Korea will still dream in the quarter-finals by leading 3-0 against Portugal, before being struck down by a quadruple from Eusebio (5-3 final score).
1982 Algeria-RFA (2-1), the feat wasted
For the first time, an African nation beats a European great, an earthquake on the scale of football. Rabah Madjer opened the scoring and Lakhdar Belloumi restored the lead to the Greens after Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s goal. “We had no doubts after this equalizer,” Algeria captain Ali Fergani told Jeune Afrique. “We could have cracked, but we held on, despite the German pressure”. Unfortunately, this feat was spoiled by the following “match of shame”, where the FRG beat Austria (1-0), pile the score necessary to qualify the two European teams.
1990 Cameroon-Argentina (1-0), the Lions tame Maradona
Argentina has already experienced a huge surprise at the World Cup at its expense. At the opening match of 90, in Milan, the team of the immense Diego Maradona, reigning world champion and favorite to succeed him, was devoured by the “Indomitable Lions” of Cameroon. A header from François Omam-Biyik, on an extraordinary extension, surprised goalkeeper Nery Pumpido. His cousin André Kana-Biyik then Benjamin Bassing received a red card at the end of the match where the Cameroonians played elbows and tackles to hold the result. Confident by this fanfare start, the Lions will go to the quarters (defeat against England 3-2 ap), the first African team to reach this level.
2002 – South Korea-Italy (2-1 golden goal) and the questionable arbitration of Byron Moreno
Another bad Korean surprise for the “Azzurri”, this time swept away by South Korea, boosted at home for the first round of 16 in its history. The host country (with Japan) will even go to the semi-finals, beaten by Germany (1-0).
This time the hero is called Ahn Jung-hwan, author of the golden goal three minutes from the end of extra time (117th). In a meeting full of suspense, Korea had already equalized at the very end of regulation time by Seol Ki-yeon (88th). The other hero of the match, in the role of villain, is Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno, who ended up in prison years later for drug trafficking. Many of his decisions drove the Italians crazy, from the golden goal denied to Damiano Tommasi for a borderline offside to the second yellow for Francesco Totti for simulation, when the whole Boot had seen a penalty.
At the start of the tournament, Senegal – finalist of the African Cup a few months earlier – had created the first sensation by surprising France, reigning world champion and big favorite, thanks to a goal from RC Lens player Papa Bouba Diop (1-0).
From United States-England to Korea-Italy, the big surprises of the World Cup