'Revenge of the Falkland Islands' read the headlines of various Argentine tabloids ahead of the much-talked-about quarter-final clash between footballing powerhouses England and Argentina at the 1986 World Cup.
Apart from the war bit, the centre of attention was Argentina's No 10 Diego Maradona. Nobody could have written a better success story at the 1986 edition than Maradona. The man who single-handedly brought life to Napoli and Italy's Serie A after leaving Barcelona in 1984. However, the 25-year-old had a point to prove after an off-colour Argentina were knocked out in the second round in the previous edition.
But on that afternoon in Mexico, the Falkland Islands conflict had set the stage for a fiery encounter.
After an ill-tempered first half in which both sides created chances one after the other, Maradona took advantage of spaces in the middle of the park after the restart. England midfielder Steve Hodge's clumsy clearance proved to be costly as he headed the ball towards his own goal. Maradona, sitting deep into the English half, raced to win the ball. Peter Shilton and Maradona vied for the ball and the next thing was controversy. The diminutive Argentine No 10 leaped to meet the ball and slyly punched the ball into the net, duping the linesman and the referee.
As Maradona celebrated the opener, the English players besieged the referee, Ali Bin Nasser of Tunisia. However, the controversial opener stood.
But minutes later, in expiation for cheating, Maradona skipped past much of the England team and Shilton to produce a magical finish, that is still considered the World Cup's finest goal.
England did manage to get one back but it was too little, too late as Argentina would go on to lift the World Cup.
After the match, the TV replays and photographs clearly showed that Maradona had handled the ball. The star said: "I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came... I told them, 'Come hug me, or the referee isn't going to allow it.'"
Meanwhile, Bin Nasser and Dotchev blamed each other. "I was waiting for Dotchev to give me a hint of what exactly happened but he didn’t signal for a handball," Bin Nasser said years later. "And the instructions FIFA gave us before the game were clear - if a colleague was in a better position than mine, I should respect his view."
England manager Bobby Robson was more certain about what he saw. "I saw the ball in the air and Maradona going for it," said Robson. "Shilton went for it as well but Maradona handled the ball into the net. You don't expect decisions like that at World Cup level."
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Updated Date: Jun 10, 2018 18:42 PM