East Germany : Wall Falls, World Cup Hopes Crushed (Pt 3)

In a battle of next-door neighbors, Austria striker TONI POLSTER of Spanish side FC Sevilla, who scored five goals to lead his nation during the qualification matches, looks to settle the ball ahead of Czechoslovakia midfielder VACLAV NEMECEK of Sparta Prague during the 1990 World Cup, Group A match at the Stadio Comunale in Florence, Italy. (Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

It certainly would have made for some kind of feel-good story, then.

The dramatic as well as historic Fall of the Berlin Wall and then, within a week, the late charge of East Germany to claim the last qualification place for the 1990 FIFA World Cup to be held in Italy.

As it turned out, however, someone forgot to give a copy of the script to Austria striker TONI POLSTER.

Although many had expected that the Soviet Union would, in fact, defeat Turkey in Moscow, the fact still remained that Austria would still need nothing short of full points from the match with East Germany in order to secure the qualification group’s last spot for Italia ’90.

Polster, the lethal legionnaire in his second year with Spanish La Liga side FC Sevilla after a solitary Serie A season with FC Torino in the Italian Alps, spoiled whatever party East Germany, who would have gotten through to only their second-ever World Cup finals with a draw, may have had planned with a left-footed strike from the top of the arc in just the second minute of the critical match.

The 25-year-old striker, who was the target of resolute per-game jeers and whistles from the 55,000-strong, mostly Austrian crowd at the Praterstadion in the Leopoldstadt district of Vienna, added a second goal from penalty spot in the 21st minute after East Germany’s sliding defender DIRK STAHMANN of FC Magdeburg, after playing the ball first, was harshly whistled for a foul in the box by Polish referee PIOTR WERNER.

Werner actually awarded a penalty in the first half to East Germany, as well, but FC Karl Marx Stadt midfielder RICO STEINMANN, a future teammate of Polster’s in the Bundesliga with 1.FC Koeln, had his kick steered around the post by the diving Austria goalkeeper KLAUS LINDENBERGER of FC Swarovski Tirol.

The night clearly belonged to the curly-haired Polster, who had earned the wrath of the faithful at the Praterstadion by failing to score a goal in Austria’s four prevous World Cup qualifiers, which included a heavy 3-0 loss to Turkey in Istanbul.

The former FK Austria Vienna striker had already won back the hearts of the hometown supporters before he completed his hat trick shortly after the hour mark as Austria cruised to a 3-0 victory over East Germany and a much-sought place at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.


5:53 — Austria striker TONI POLSTER’s first goal

7:17 — foul whistled against East Germany defender DIRK STAHMANN, Polster’s penalty kick

8:14 — Austria goalkeeper KLAUS LINDENBERGER saves the penalty kick of East Germany midfielder RICO STEINMANN


November 15, 1989
Praterstadion, Wien


gk — Klaus LINDENBERGER (FC Swarovski Tirol)

df — Ernst AIGNER (FK Austria Vienna), Robert PECL (SK Rapid Vienna), Anton PFEFFER (FK Austria Vienna), Peter ARTNER (FC Admira Wacker Vienna)

mf — Manfred ZSAK (FK Austria Vienna), Alfred HOERTNAGL (FC Swarovski Tirol), Manfred LINZMAIER (FC Swarovski Tirol), Christian KEGLEVITS (SK Rapid Vienna)

fw — Toni POLSTER (FC Sevilla – Spa), Andreas OGRIS (FK Austria Vienna)

substitutes :

mf — Andreas HERZOG (SK Rapid Vienna) for Ogris – 75th min
fw — Heimo PFEIFFENBERGER (SK Rapid Vienna) for Herzog – 81st min



gk — Dirk HEYNE (FC Magdeburg)

df — Dirk STAHMANN (FC Magdeburg), Ronald KREER (Lokomotiv Leipzig), Detlef SCHOSSLER (Dynamo Dresden), Matthias LINDNER (Lokomotiv Leipzig)

mf — Matthias DOESCHNER (Dynamo Dresden), Rico STEINMANN (FC Karl Marx Stadt), Matthias SAMMER (Dynamo Dresden), Joerg STUEBNER (Dynamo Dresden)

fw — Ulf KIRSTEN (Dynamo Dresden), Andreas THOM (Dynamo Berlin)

substitutes :

mf — Thomas DOLL (Dynamo Berlin) for Doeschner – 42nd min
mf — Uwe WEIDEMANN (FC Rot Weiss Erfurt) for Sammer – 79th min


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