’76 Olympic Semifinal : East Germany v Soviet Union


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U.S.S.R. striker OLEG BLOKHIN of Dynamo Kiev shoots past East Germany goalkeeper JUERGEN CROY (1) of FC Sachsenring Zwickau to give the Soviet Union a quick 2-0 lead in the 30th minute of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games Bronze Medal Match at the Olympiastadion in Munich, West Germany.
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There had been an Olympic medal at stake for the contest in the Olympiastadion at Munich, but it had really ‘only’ been for the bronze. There was even more on the line however, at the Montreal Summer Games in 1976. Indeed, this particular match between EAST GERMANY and the SOVIET UNION would directly decide which nation would advance to the Gold Medal Game, itself.

The Soviet Union, twenty years later, were still looking for another Olympic football crown to go with the title won at the 1956 Summer Games held in Melbourne, Australia. The U.S.S.R., who had lost experienced defender ANATOLI KONKOV of Dynamo Kiev to injury earlier in the tournament, had conceded a late penalty in the quarterfinal at Sherbrooke but still managed to eliminate Iran 2-1. Trainer VALERY LOBANOVSKY of Dynamo Kiev continued to tinker with the Soviet Startelf and restored the seasoned Dynamo Kiev pair of 29-year-old defender STEFAN RESHKO and 26-year-old VLADIMIR ONISCHENKO, who had scored both goals in the 2-1 victory over host nation Canada to open the Olympic campaign, to the U.S.S.R. line-up for the semifinal at Montreal.

East Germany, especially considering the influential Leistungsportbeschluss declaration of 1969, were eager to reach the Final of the football tournament at the Summer Games for the very first time, ever. Twice before, in 1964 and 1972, the D.D.R. had been able to add the bronze medal to their ‘important’ Olympic medal count, though, and were anxious to do even better in Canada. To face the Soviets in the semifinal at the Games of 1976, the East German trainer GEORG BUSCHNER sent out exactly the same Startelf that had flattened France 4-0 in the quarterfinal at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

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Soviet Union midfielder ALEXANDER MINAYEV of Dynamo Moscow, on of only two regular players in the U.S.S.R. Olympic first team to not originate from trainer Valery Lobanovsky’s Dynamo Kiev club side, attempts to put a move on experienced East Germany defender KONRAD WEISE (4) of FC Carl Zeiss Jena during the ’76 Summer Games semifinal match at the brand new Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada.
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The U.S.S.R. attack in Montreal was spearheaded by the prolific OLEG BLOKHIN, the reigning award Balon d’Or recipient given annually to the most outstanding football player in all of Europe at that time. The 23-year-old striker, who had helped Dynamo Kiev capture the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1975, had scored six goals at the 1972 Olympic Games including his strike against East Germany in the Bronze Medal Match (which the D.D.R. rallied to draw 2-2) at Munich. Blokhin, much to the dismay of Soviet supporters, never did get on track at the Montreal Games in 1976 and never did add to a solitary goal notched in the opening round against the North Koreans.

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OLEG BLOKHIN of Dynamo Kiev, the Ukrainian all-time leading goal-scorer for the national football team of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
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The strength of the East German team was its staunch defensive wall fortified by JUERGEN CROY, the FC Sachsenring Zwickau goalkeeper who was chosen as the D.D.R.’s Football of the Year three times over the course of his distinguished career. The five players deployed at the back by East Germany, who had yet to concede at these ’76 Olympics, would all eventually earn an impressive 378 international caps, collectively, and their presence in the semifinal at Montreal really made life difficult for the exploisve Blokhin up front. And so, when the halftime whistle sounded at the Olympic Stadium, both sides went to their respective changing rooms to discuss a scoreless draw.

The Soviet defense, in direct comparison to its Eastern Bloc counterparts in the semifinals, were rather inexperienced as a unit at the Montreal Games even before the loss of Konkov and, fatefully, gave a penalty to the East Germans shortly before the hour. Spielfuehrer and sweeper HANS-JUERGEN DOERNER of Dynamo Dresden then beat U.S.S.R. goalkeeper VLADIMIR ASTAPOVSKY of army club CSKA Moscow to provide the D.D.R. with an all-important first strike in the 59th minute. The goal was a team-leading fourth of these 1976 Summer Olympic Games, three of which had been scored from spot kicks, for the productive 25-year-old defender.

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LOTHAR KURBJUWEIT of FC Carl Zeiss Jena
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The East Germans then struck again just seven minutes later to really leave the Soviets chasing the game. Considering the overall nature of the D.D.R. Olympische Auswahl, it was, perhaps, fitting another defender to find the back of the net against the U.S.S.R. in Montreal. 26-year-old LOTHAR KURJUWEIT of FC Carl Zeiss Jena stepped up in the 66th minute for what proved to be the biggest goal, by far, of a long international career which spanned from 1968 until 1980 and included 59 ‘full’ caps for the German Democratic Republic.

With less than twenty minutes remaining, Lobanovsky made a most curious double switch for the Soviet Union. VIKTOR ZVYAGINTSEV, the Dynamo Kiev rearguard who recorded the match-winning goal for the U.S.S.R. against Iran in the quarterfinals, was replaced with yet another defender while the attacking Onischenko gave way to VLADIMIR FEDOROV, the 20-year-old midfielder from FC Pakhtakor Tashkent. Meanwhile, the talented 24-year-old Georgian DAVID KIPIANI of Dinamo Tbilisi, who went on to earn the title of domestic Footballer of the Year for 1977, was yet again left on the bench by the Soviets.

Match referee MARIO DORANTES GARCIA of Mexico pointed to the penalty spot for the second time at the Olympic Stadium with less than twenty minutes remaining in the semifinal at Montreal. Veteran U.S.S.R. midfielder VIKTOR KOLOTOV of Dynamo Kiev converted to register his second goal of the Montreal Games in the 84th minute and offer the Soviets hope. But the East Germans would have nothing to do with an equalizer and, thus, triumphantly marched into the Final at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Canada.

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East Germany netminder JUERGEN CROY of FC Sachsenring Zwickau conceded only one goal — that being from the penalty spot — through the Deutsche Demokratische Republik’s first four Olympic matches at the football tournament of the 1976 Summer Games in Canada.

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