CLASSIC UFWC TITLE MATCH:
FRANCE 2-0 SPAIN, 27 June 1984
European Championships final, Parc des Princes, Paris, France
Scorers: Platini, Bellone (France)
Free-scoring France took the UFWC title from Belgium in the first round of the 1984 European Championships with a 5-0 win. The tournament hosts then saw off Yugoslavia and Portugal, both defeated 3-2, to reach the final.
Spain qualified for the tournament courtesy of one of the most ludicrous results ever recorded. Needing to beat Malta by a full 11 goals in their final qualifying match, Spain proceeded to miss a penalty, concede a goal, yet still win 12-1. It was very difficult to imagine that the handing-over of brown envelopes had not occurred, although UEFA and FIFA accepted the result.
For the final, France fielded what is perhaps their classic side, featuring the peerless midfield quartet of Michel Platini, Jean Tigana, Alain Giresse, and Luis Fernandez. If they had a weakness, it was that they did not have a prolific goalscorer up front.
On paper, Spain had an inferior side, with future coach Jose Antonio Camacho one of the few notable names. They scraped through to the final, winning only one first round match, and beating Denmark on penalties in the semi-final. Crucially, however, they proved difficult to beat.
Approaching the final in a similarly obstinate style, the Spaniards were able to frustrate the French, and the vast majority of the 47,000 crowd, in a goalless first half.
But, on 57 minutes, France won a free-kick on the edge of Spain’s D. Up stepped set piece maestro Platini. But he did not produce his vintage. His free kick was lobbed weakly straight at Spanish keeper Luis Arconada. But, inexplicably, Arconada fumbled the ball and allowed it to slip over the line. Platini had broken the deadlock, with something of an assist from the goalie.
Spain began probing forward in search of an equaliser, and France were reduced to 10 men after defender Yvon Le Roux was sent off, but the French midfield retained control of the game.
In the final minute Bruno Bellone raced clear of the Spanish defence and chipped the ball over Arconada to seal the victory. It was France’s twelfth UFWC win, but the first time the nation had ever won an official competition.