West Germany 2-1 Netherlands, 7 July 1974
World Cup final, Olympiastadion, Munich
Scorers: Breitner (pen), Muller (West Germany), Neeskens (pen) (Netherlands)
Euro champions West Germany took on UFWC champions the Netherlands in this World Cup final. While the brilliant Dutch practised free-flowing total football, the formidable Germans favoured a more guarded mobile sweeper system. Hosts West Germany also had the crowd on their side, not to mention the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Paul Breitner, and the free-scoring Gerd Muller.
Kick-off in soccer’s showpiece final was delayed for several minutes as groundstaff in the Olympiastadion had neglected to set up corner flags. But when play finally got underway, West Germany didn’t seem ready. Indeed, the Netherlands took the lead before a German player touched the ball. Johan Cruyff strolled from his own half through the German defence and into the penalty area, only to be scythed down by Uli Hoeness. Ref Jack Taylor awarded a penalty, causing German libero Beckenbauer to point out, quite accurately, ‘You’re an Englishman!’ The Dutch penalty-taker was the deadly Johan Neeskens, who dispatched the ball into the centre of the goal with minimum fuss.
It was a very early kick in the teeth for the Germans, but they stuck to their patient gameplan – and it paid off 25 minutes later. Bernd Holzenbein squeezed into the Dutch penalty area and was challenged rather innocuously by Wim Jansen. Holzenbein went down like a sniper had taken him out. Jack Taylor again pointed to the spot. Had Beckenbauer’s earlier comment persuaded Taylor to ‘even the score’? Regardless, Paul Breitner buried the penalty – after Cruyff instructed keeper Jan Jongbloed to dive in the wrong direction. West Germany had the initiative, and just before half-time they had the lead. Muller turned in the box, and knocked the ball past the static Jongbloed. It was Muller’s 14th World Cup goal, making him the tournament’s all-time top goalscorer. The Dutch were rattled – as the half-time whistle blew Cruyff took his turn at berating ref Taylor, and was booked for his indiscretion.
The Netherlands regrouped after the break and piled pressure on the German goal, but to no avail. The final whistle was greeted with delirium from the home fans. West Germany reclaimed the UFWC and, for the second time, won the World Cup. They were presented with the brand new FIFA World Cup trophy, the earlier Jules Rimet trophy having been handed permanently to three-time winners Brazil.