Prior to kick-off, the 100,000 spectators in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium on 17th June 1970, were unaware that they were about to witness one of the most dramatic football matches ever to be played.
It was Italy vs. Germany in the World Cup semi-finals. The German squad had skill in abundance, although the Italians remained optimistic thanks to their solid historic record against Germany (10 wins from 13 matches).
As for the starting line up, Italy coach Ferruccio Valcareggi selected the side that had beaten Mexico earlier in the competition. Forward Mazzola was included, whilst Gianni Rivera was ready to take his place at the start of the second half.
The match began well for the Azzurri. Roberto Boninsegna grabbed the opener after only 7 minutes, which coincidentally was his first goal for the national team.
As the encounter wore on, both sides had chances to score, although it was not until the 92nd minute when the opposition grabbed an equaliser, with AC Milan’s Schnellinger forcing the game into extra-time.
The additional period started in nightmare fashion for Italy, as Gerd Müller put the Germans in front almost immediately.
Thankfully, Tarcisio Burgnich made it 2-2 soon after.
Up until this point in the competition, Italy forward Gigi Riva had yet to score, but he managed to convert shortly before the end of the first period of extra-time. Domenghini was the man to assist the ‘Roar of Thunder’ , as the striker fired home to put the Azzurri in front 3-2.
Germany restored parity once again through Gerd Müller.
However, all was not lost, with Milan’s Gianni Rivera scoring the dramatic winner just two minutes later (4-3).
It was a game that had everything; emotion, action and eventual elation for the Azzurri. This two-hour battle is now known as the Game of the Century.