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World Cup’s 101 Most Memorable Moments: Game of the century

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Editor’s note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we’ll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with the “Game of the century” between Italy and West Germany.

No wonder they called it the Game of the Century. Tied 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes in their 1970 World Cup semifinal in front of more than 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, West Germany and Italy exploded for five goals during the half-hour of extra time, with the Azzurri ultimately prevailing on Gianni Rivera’s 111th minute winner.

Italy had led for most of the match. But Germany equalized via defender Heinz Schnellinger in second half stoppage time, and German striker Gerd Müller took full advantage of the stunned Azzurri players when he gave his team a 2-1 lead early in the extra session. Italy responded, and things were all square again when they made it 2-2 just four minutes later.

Gigi Riva then put Italy up 3-2, and it seemed that would settle it — until a defensive error by Rivera allowed Müller to level the score for Die Mannschaft once again. Just nine minutes before a drawing of lots that would determine which team advanced to the final (FIFA didn’t introduce the penalty kick tiebreaker until the 1974 World Cup), Rivera made up for his error to put Italy ahead for good.

Never before had five World Cup goals been scored during extra time, let alone between two of the sport’s most decorated teams with a spot in the final at stake. The record stands to this day. Does Game of the Century do it justice? If not, Best World Cup Game Ever works, too.

Game of the Century

Germany and Italy combined for five goals in extra time in the 1970 World Cup semifinal.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.


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