As Argentina begin their latest reign as UFWC champions, we look back at the very first of their 51 title match wins.
CLASSIC UFWC TITLE MATCH:
Paraguay 3-5 Argentina, 2 March 1955
South American Championships, Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile
Scorers: Rolon, Martinez, Villalba (Paraguay); Micheli (4), Borrello (Argentina)
The 1955 South American Championships took place in Chile over the course of a month. Paraguay had been UFWC champs since April 1954, taking the title from Uruguay ahead of the 1954 World Cup finals. Neither Paraguay nor Argentina participated in those finals, so they both had plenty of time to prepare for this UFWC clash. And the resultant match was a classic.
Both sides had great forward lines, so this was never going to be nil-nil. Paraguay boasted Maximo Rolon, just 5’2″, but top scorer in his domestic league with Libertad three seasons running. Argentina had the brilliant Rudolfo Micheli of Independiente, one of the greatest South American goalscorers of all time.
And it was Micheli who struck first – only for Rolon to grab an equaliser. Micheli then scored a penalty to give Argentina a 2-1 half-time lead.
But within seconds of the start of the second half, Paraguay were also awarded a penalty. Hermes Gonzalez’s spot kick hit the post, but Eulogio Martinez quickly stabbed in the equaliser. (Martinez would later play for Barcelona, scoring the first ever goal in the Nou Camp stadium, and, after gaining Spanish nationality, winning eight caps for Spain.)
The parity lasted less than 20 minutes. First Micheli netted a hat-trick goal, and then Boca Juniors forward Jose ‘Cucumber’ Borello added another to give Argentina a 4-2 lead. (The origin of Borello’s highly unusual nickname seems to have been lost to time…) Now Argentina were in control, and Micheli eventually scored his fourth – and Argentina’s fifth – in the 83rd minute. Paraguay never gave up, and Salvador Villalba pulled one back with a minute left to play. But in the end Argentina, and Micheli in particular, were too strong.
Argentina won 5-3 and won the UFWC title at the first time of asking. Argentina successfully held onto the title throughout the remainder of the South American Championships, coming up against Chile in the final decisive match. Chile had George Robledo and his brother Ted, who had both recently returned from England to Chile with club side Colo Colo, plus Carlos Espinoza and Rene Melendez, both signed to Everton. But Micheli was the man of the moment, and his single goal was enough to give Argentina the 1-0 victory that won them the 1955 South American Championships.
Micheli finished the tournament as top-scorer, yet he only scored two further goals in his entire international career, including one against England in 1953. Argentina eventually lost the UFWC title to Brazil in February 1956.