79th Minute – Ghiggia, Uruguay v Brazil 1950 World Cup Final Round
Once the World Cup was awarded to Brazil, the pressure and expectation placed upon the squad of the 1950 World Cup slowly grew. Their form had been impressive in the lead up however and they organised a two month long training camp to prepare for the games ahead. The Maracana had been built too and it was the biggest stadium in the world. Crowds in the Maracana during the tournament ranged from 82,000 in the first game to eventually 200,000 for the final. On their way to that fateful meeting with Uruguay they comfortably beat Mexico, Yugoslavia, Spain and Sweden. Their only poor performance came away from Rio when they drew 2-2 with Switzerland in Sao Paulo. This World Cup didn’t have any knockout games, instead another final group was formed to decide the winner and results left Brazil just needing a draw to win the World Cup. Uruguay played two less games than Brazil as France had pulled out of Group C leaving just Uruguay and Bolivia. La Celeste beat the Bolivians 8-0 and went on to battle out a 2-2 draw with Spain and get a hard earnt 3-2 win against Sweden.
The newly built stadium was bursting at the seams as the sides entered the field of play. The first half passed off with little incident, Brazil attacked as expected but couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Uruguayan defence. Just after half time the stadium erupted with relief and joy as Brazil took the lead, La Celeste protested the goal for minutes, claiming it was offside. This was a tactic to try and knock Brazil out of their stride. It worked. Uruguay began to get back in to the game and the Brazilian defence crumbled. Juan Alberto Schiaffino levelled in the 66th minute and suddenly the Brazilians got very nervous.
Just 11 minutes remained for Brazil to hold on when Uruguayan winger Alcides Ghiggia burst in to the box…
What Happened Next?
Brazil was in mourning for a long time after this. It is still seen as one of the most shocking events in Brazilian social history let alone their sporting one. It’s also one of the greatest surprises in the history of the World Cup. FIFA had prepared everything for a Brazil win that day, Uruguay weren’t even presented with the trophy properly.
A young Brazilian named Edson Arantes do Nascimento saw his father cry that day and was inspired to win the Jules Rimet trophy for him, he did it three times in twelve years. Uruguay would finally lose a World Cup game four years later but not without a fight. Alcides Ghiggia went to Italy and impressed in Serie A with Roma for eight seasons a few years after this World Cup. He also appeared and scored for the Italian national team.
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