World Cup Countdown: 10 Weeks to Go - When Hosts Argentina Edged the Netherlands In a Classic Final
1978 was a time of revolution in world culture. As The BeeGees and ABBA dominated the charts in the late 70's, the Deer Hunter and Grease would go on to become cult classics in the pantheon of Hollywood classics.
That year also saw the XI World Cup being staged in Argentina, as the hosts famously dethroned holders West Germany on home soil.
Whilst Albiceleste and a nation celebrated wildly however, it was once again agony for the Netherlands who lost their second-successive final in a row, after losing again to the host nation last time to West Germany 2-1 at the Olympiastadion in Munich.
As Mario Kempes, the hero for Argentina lifted the famous World Cup trophy in front of 74,483 adoring home fans at the Es tadio Monumental in the country's capital of Buenos Aires, the footballing millions globally witnessed one of the greatest finals.
It was almost a final that never happened however, as controversy dogged the game pre-match in the City of Good Airs.
To begin with it was the Dutch that accused Argentina of deliberately delaying the start of the game, leaving the visitors out in the hostile and partisan atmosphere of the Monumental, as Cesar Luis Menotti finally led his charges out five minutes late.
To whip up bad feeling ever further, Oranje were then questioned over the legality of forward Rene van de Kerkhof's plaster-casted wrist, despite having played with it for the majority of the tournament up until then.
On a Sunday mid-afternoon In the height of the Argenti nian winter, the game began and like many of the preceding finals the pressure gauge was ratcheted up to ten in the early minutes.
In a physical encounter with already plenty needle to be had, neither side shied away from a tackle in what was a cauldron of noise.
Kempes then lit the blue touch paper seven minutes from half-time. Finding space in the penalty area, the Argentinian talisman coolly slotted under Dutch goalkeeper Jan Jongbloed.
The response from the away side was sterling, but as chances came on went - including a remarkable stop from Ubaldo Fillol with his boot - the Netherlands were getting that shrinking feeling of another loss in a World Cup final.
With the clock ticking into the final ten minutes however, the Dutch were hauled level by Dick Nanninga's head effort in the 82nd minute, courtesy of Johann Neeskens' whipped cross.
The game was decided by three pieces of good fortune all falling to Argentina. Remarkably, Ernst Happel's men almost won turned the game on its' head in the final moments of normal time.
As the tireless Rob Rensenbrick latched onto a floated ball forward into the danger area, the Anderlecht marksman saw his poked effort bounce agonizingly away from goal via the post for the Dutch.
With the game going into extra time, the Argentines were again then blessed with one of the most fortunate - or skill, depending on one's allegiances - goals in World Cup history.
The game ticking into the final minute before the overtime interval, Kempes then stole his moment in sporting infamy.
The Valencia striker leapt to evade the bodies of mens in orange shirts attempting to slide in to block Kempes, but the latter jumped over both to head on goal.
As Jongbloed blocked his effort, the ball hit the aerial Kempes not once but twice; first on the knee and then on the foot, and then again off the head of Jongbloed.
As the Dutch defence scrambled to clear the ball, it looped hight into the Argentinian afternoon sky and in a moment of freak sporting incidence, off of substitute defender Wim Suurbier - but which is still officially Kempes' goal.
It knocked the stuffing out of the Dutch who were again to fall foul of the hand of favour, as Argentina notched a third and decisive goal with five minutes of play left.
Again, Kempes was the creator-in-chief and as he was tackled with a hat-trick in sight, the ball pin-balled around the Dutch area and fell to the awaiting Daniel Bertoni. With Jongbloed unsighted, the Independiente winger was left to slot home unchallenged to scenes of delirium in Buenos Aires.
As Argentina celebrated with captain Daniel Passarella lifting the trophy, the Dutch were left crestfallen having again fallen at the final hurdle of world football's biggest race.
Whilst the Total Football of the seventies were arguably the golden era for Dutch football coming within a win of sporting immortality on two separate occasions, it will also go down as their most painful.
Into the present day, the Dutch have lost all three of their World Cup final appearances, whilst Argentina have been crowned world ch ampions two times - with their second win eight years later in 1986.
For the average football fan however, the game will remembered for the victorious host nation, a large chunk of good fortune, but most pertinently as one of the the all-time classic World Cup final encounters.Source: Google News Argentina | Netizen 24 Argentina