We report as live from the 1970 World Cup Finals, 50 years on.

Guadalajara, June 7, 1970.


World Champions England still have the chance to advance in this tournament despite losing to masterly Brazil in the heat of the Jalisco Stadium this afternoon.

A single goal by Jairzinho was sufficient for the Brazilians to guarantee their place in the quarter-finals and eliminate Czechoslovakia from the finals. That’s good news for England as they now face a ‘must win’ final group stage match against the Czechs who will surely now lack some motivation.

In truth, though they battled hard, created chances and mostly defended well, England were second best in this match and can thank goalkeeper Gordon Banks for keeping the score down. One magnificent save from Pele will long in the memory, while he foiled plenty other chances and could do nothing about the Brazilian winner.

Brazil were clearly missing their ‘brains trust’, the injured Gerson. Their goalkeeper Felix looked nervous before the match started, but Pele and Paulo Cesar attacking from midfield behind Jairzinho, Tostao and Rivelino made this Brazil side formidable opponents from the outset.

There will be those who will quibble with Alf Ramsay’s selection, but none of the 13 men who played today let England down, save perhaps for substitute Jeff Astle who missed the proverbial sitter.

Six of the 1966 World Cup winning side started the match, with Nobby Stiles and Jackie Charlton in the squad but absent from the starting XI.

Having endured a sleepless night at their hotel due to fans of other countries creating a din, England nevertheless looked relaxed as they entered the stadium in which the vast majority of support was for Brazil.

The match started at noon to cater for the folks ‘back home’ watching on television. Thus the heat was intense throughout and reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit at times. This was one occasion when Englishmen would have been happy to leave the midday sun to mad dogs, as clearly the conditions favoured Brazil.

Ramsay’s pre-tournament preparations paid off, however, as England managed to just about deal with the heat and altitude in a city that’s 1,000ft higher than Ben Nevis.

The match was only ten minutes old when we saw what will surely be the save of the tournament. Brazil’s captain Carlos Alberto hit a long slide-rule pass down the right to Jairzinho who picked up the ball on the run, skipped by Terry Cooper and sent a looping cross over the defence to where Pele was rising majestically above Tommy Wright.

The master of football technique powered a downward header text-book fashion to Banks’s right but somehow the goalkeeper hurled himself across his goal line with almost gymnastic ability to scoop the ball up and away by the post. Stunning stuff, and Banks continued to defy Brazil as the tournament favourites pressed forward.

Bobby Moore was his usual commanding self and Alan Mullery coped well with Pele, but that only encouraged Jairzinho and Rivelino to do their own thing and Wright and Cooper suffered as they twisted and turned inside-out to try and pierce the English defence.

For Brazil, the inexperienced centre backs Piazza and Brito did enough to stop Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters and Carlos Alberto found one way of stopping Francis Lee – an early bodycheck might well have seen Brazil’s skipper booked or worse after Lee himself picked up England’s first ever yellow card in a World Cup finals.

Felix had earlier saved well at Charlton’s feet and held on well to a Lee cross-shot before Banks’s wonder save. The Brazilian goalie’s nerves had settled when Wright sent in lovely cross that Lee met with a diving header which Felix saved at point blank range. Lee followed through and kicked Felix which angered the Brazilians – goalkeepers are not usually given ‘the treatment’ in their country, and Lee was shown the yellow card by referee Avraham Klein of Israel. Alberto somehow avoided seeing yellow for his ‘revenge’ block on Lee shortly afterwards.

The play was end-to-end at times, but Brazil always had the supremacy and should have had a penalty when Pele was felled by Mullery in the box. At the other end Banks saved a Cesar swerver and then a block buster from Rivelinho.

On the hour mark, Tostao fought hard and sent over a cross which Pele collected before tapping it rightward into the path of Jairzinho who shot high past the onrushing Banks.

England fought back and also brought on Jeff Astle and Colin Bell. It was Astle who missed the best chance of the match not long after he came on, and to be fair he did trouble the Brazilian defence. Alan Ball came closest when his powerful shot hit the bar, but it was the Brazilians who finished on top, Pele just failing with an outrageous injury time chip over Banks.

The qualification picture for other groups is straightforward – in Group 4, Germany and Peru are through and the former look set to meet England in the quarters in what will be a repeat of the 1966 World Cup Final. Italy and Uruguay appear certain to qualify from Group 2.