1982 World Cup : West Germany 2 – Spain 1


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Little winger PIERRE LITTBARSKI (7) of 1.FC Koeln was clearly the Man of the Match for West Germany that famous — as well as fateful — night in Madrid at the 1982 World Cup from Spain. (Bob Thomas/ Getty Images)
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It was a night in which the World Cup expectations of a futbol-mad nation hosting the sport’s greatest spectacle were smashed to smithereens in front of 90,089 spectators at the famous Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, traditional home to Spanish professional football giant Real Madrid.

PIERRE LITTBARSKI, just 22 years old and standing just five foot six inches, had been in the West German national team for less than one year when West Germany line-up against Spain for a pivotal Second Round, Group B match with the host nation in the hot summer that was 1982.

West Germany had already had a goalless draw with England in Group B. The home-standing Spainards had yet to play a second round match. Meanwhile, the youthful Littbarski was about to make a name for himself on the Game’s grandest stage:

Littbarski, oddly enough, opens the highlight footage after receiving a nice back-heel pass from the legendary KARL-HEINZ RUMMENIGGE (11) of Bayern Munich, who had been played a precision ball in the box by his Bundesliga teammate PAUL BREITNER (3).

Breitner, the 30-year-old who had quit international football and moved to Spain to join Real Madrid for three seasons after West Germany won the 1974 World Cup on home soil, had been enticed to return to the national team fold by manager JUPP DERWALL in 1981.

West German goalkeeper HARALD “Toni” SCHUMACHER, the Bundesliga teammate of Littbarski with 1.FC Koeln, pulls off the save of the game in the scoreless first half. Spanish danger man SANTILLANA (19), the 30-year-old veteran goal-scoring star for hometown Real Madrid, storms in after handling the header from midfielder MIGUEL ALONSO (4) of Real Sociedad. But Schumacher bravely comes off his line to save from Santillana with his right foot.

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The West Germans celebrate the game’s first goal at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid as the Spanish goalkeeper LUIS ARCONADA of Real Sociedad can only stare at his two defenders, RAFAEL GALLEGO (3) of Real Betis and SANTIAGO URQUIAGA (12) of Athletic Bilbao, with his hands on his hips at the 1982 World Cup. (Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
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The key moment in the match comes just after the break. West Germany midfielder WOLFGANG DREMMLER (6) of Bayern Munich unloads a shot from outside the penalty box that the Spanish goalkeeper can only parry into the path of the oncoming Littbarski, who takes the opportunity to pot his third international goal.

Littbarski, a member of three West Germany World Cup squads who appeared in the grand finale at both the 1982 and 1990 tournaments, went on to earn 73 caps (18 goals) for West Germany over the course of his outstanding career.

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West German striker KLAUS FISCHER (8) approaches the Spanish goal in the critical 1982 World Cup Second Round, Group B match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. (Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
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A third 1.FC Koeln player featuring prominently in the match, striker KLAUS FISCHER, effectively puts an end to the affair in the 75th minute with a second West German goal.

It is the former Real Madrid man, Breitner, who prompts the moment with the pass to Littbarski in the box. But it is little winger, with a calm that concealed his age, who makes it all happen, first with a clever turn on the Spanish defender SANTIAGO URQUIAGA (12) of Athletic Bilbao. Littbarski then unselfishly slides the ball square to his Bundesliga buddy Fischer with the Spanish keeper advancing off his line.

The 32-year-old veteran striker, still the all-time leading goal-scorer for the legendary Bundesliga club, FC Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen, had little to do but walk the ball into the net and finished off the hopes of the host nation.

Spain did pull a goal back thru midfielder JESUS ZAMORA (10) of Real Sociedad, but it was too little, too late.

The West German defense, directed by sweeper ULI STIELIKE (15) of none other than Spanish club Real Madrid, held firm to the finish.

West Germany moved to the top of Group B with three points while Spain, with just one match against England left to contest, were left with absolutely no hope of advancement on home soil and crashed out of the 1982 World Cup final tournament.

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