Sunday 11 June
Can Scotland do it? Once again the anticipation was building. Of course we all expected a Dutch win and a Scots exit with one point against Iran, but you never know.
But first there was the matter of Brazil – and at 5.45pm they beat Austria 1-0 on the BBC scored by the best named player of the tournament – Roberto Dinamite. Austria topped the group on goals scored. Brazil had only got two goals in three games and so far had been a great disappointment. One more goal and they would have avoided Argentina.
On the other side, Spain beat Sweden 1-0 but it was not good enough – two more teams for the departure lounge.
At 8.45pm both sides again showed Scotland – and this proved to be a cracking match, the best game of the tournament so far. Scotland had to win by three goals. At half time it was 1-1, an end to end game. An Archie Gemmill penalty put the Jocks 2-1 up and then – in a moment very familiar to all Scots fans and anyone who has seen Trainspotting – Gemmill jinks past three players, chips over the goalie, and it is 3-1! One of the best goals in British football history and the best goal of the 1978 world cup.
Suddenly we all sat up – one more goal and Scotland would have done the impossible. Can they do it? Well, no, as shortly after Johnny Rep had a long range screamer to pull one back. Scotland held on to win 3-2, but not enough – we all thought of what might have been.
Scotland had saved the best for last. Shame they didn’t save the best for first.
Elsewhere Peru showed how it should be done and saw off Iran 4-1 to top the group and join Brazil and Argentina in a fascinating second round group stage which had split the continents. Only Poland could spoil a Europe v South America final. Peru had been one of the surprises, very impressive, and Cubillas now topped the scoring charts with five goals. Little were we to know that, as far as Peru were concerned, that was as good as it got!
A strange quirk of the first round was that none of the favourites had won their groups – Argentina, West Germany, Brazil and Holland had all come second.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening – and for once the thought of going back to school did not put a damper on things.
Group 3: Brazil 1-0 Austria
Group 3: Spain 1-0 Sweden
Group 4: Scotland 3-2 Netherlands
Dalglish 44, Gemmill 46 (pen), 68 – Rensenbrink (pen) 34 Rep 71
Group 4: Peru 4-1 Iran
Velasquez 2, Cubillas 36 (pen), 39 (pen), 79 – Roshan 41
Second round groups:
A: Italy, West Germany, Austria, Netherlands
B: Argentina, Poland, Brazil, Peru