73rd Minute, Teófilo Cubillas, Peru v Bulgaria, 1970 World Cup Group Stage
Before the 1970 World Cup, Peruvian football had very little exposure and impact on the global game. They had participated in the the first World Cup in 1930 and also performed well in the 1936 Olympics before becoming kings of the continent in 1939 but it wasn’t until 1970 the world really got their first glimpse of Peruvian football. Their iconic red diagonal sash on white shirts made a real impact in the first World Cup to be televised in colour and their football was great to watch too. The Peruvians were full of flair and skill. Leading the way were Hugo Sotil and a quite brilliant forward named Teófilo Juan Cubillas Arizaga aka El Nene (The Kid).
Cubillas made an instant impact with Alianza Lima at just sixteen years of age. He was top scorer in his first season in 1966 and became top scorer in the Peruvian league again in 1970. Cubillas was fairly small but also quite strong and had extremely quick feet. He was a fantastic free-kick taker and could score some pretty unique goals.
El Nene and his national team started Mexico ’70 against Bulgaria but it took them awhile to adjust to the style of the Europeans and they were two nil down with forty minutes to go. The Peruvians then got going, scoring two goals in five minutes to bring the scores level and there was still over half an hour to play.
Cubillas completes the comeback for La Blanquirroja in the 73rd Minute to win the match for Peru.
What Happened Next?
Cubillas scored two more in a 3-0 victory against Morocco but they couldn’t handle Gerd Muller in their last group game, even though Cubillas managed to get on the score sheet again, they lost 3-1 which left them second in the group. This set up a meeting against the best side in the competition and perhaps World Cup history, Brazil. A Seleção were simply too strong for their fellow South Americans but Cubillas did his best to give them a game, the match finished 4-2 but was it was entertaining and the Peruvians were popular with the crowd.
El Nene won South American Footballer of the year in 1972 before he made the move to Europe. Peru won the South American Championships in 1975 and would impress again at the 1978 World Cup where Cubillas would score five more goals. This was as good as it got for Peru who have struggled since the glory days of the 1970’s and haven’t qualified for a World Cup in over thirty years.