EAST GERMANY 2 AUSTRALIA 0 14/06/74
With this match clashing with the Scotland v Zaire match both channels only showed highlights, John Motson covering the match for BBC with Keith Macklin on duty for ITV.
Both sides were making their debut in World Cup Football, with the East Germans the hot favourites. They took the lead through Juergen Sparwasser on 58 minutes, who beat the offside trap to collect a clever through ball and slid an effort under the keeper into the net despite the desperate effort of Colin Curran to keep the ball out.
They doubled the lead with 18 minutes left with a cracking strike from Joachim Striech. Ebehard Vogel burst away down the left hand side before pulling the ball back across goal where Striech met it sweetly on the half volley at full stretch to fire the ball into the top corner of the net and seal East Germany’s win.
BULGARIA 0 SWEDEN 0 15/06/74
The opening game in Group 3 was shown live on ITV with Gerald Sinstadt on commentary duty. Alan Weekes was the commentator for BBC on their highlights.
Despite finishing goalless the game was an entertaining encounter with chances galore for both sides. Dimitar Penev crashed an effort off the crossbar for Bulgaria early on, also going close on a number of other occasions, including one effort which was disallowed for offside.
For Sweden Ralf Edstrom was the danger man, the lanky striker having numerous efforts on goal, most of them whizzing just past the post.
NETHERLANDS 2 URUGUAY 0 15/06/74
The long awaited debut of the Dutch saw them hammer Uruguay in Hannover. Live on BBC with Barry Davies on duty, he called an early goal for the Netherlands as Jonny Rep headed home a cross from Wim Suurbier on 8 minutes.
Total Football was in full operation, Ruud Kroll striding forward from the back and crashing an effort just wide from 25 yards. When Julio Montero Castillo was shown a red card 21 minutes from time, the Dutch were able to move the ball around even easier. Wim Jansen had a shot come off the post with Van Hannegam hitting the rebound straight at the keeper.
Holland did grab a deserved second goal four minutes from time. Suurbier fed Van Hannegan who in turn picked out Rob Rensenbrink. He found Rep with his cross which was met by the outside of Jonny Rep’s boot, the striker stroking the ball home.
POLAND 3 ARGENTINA 2 15/06/74
The best of the first round of matches saw the conquerors of England make a statement of their intent in a thrilling encounter against Argentina.
ITV covered the match live Hugh Johns being joined by Sir Alf Ramsey in the commentary box. watching the country he described as “animals” in 66 taking on the side who had effectively ended his international career.
It was the South Americans who had the first real chance of the game, Mario Kempes at the end of a quick break dragging his shot well wide.
Poland took the lead on 7 minutes as Grzegorz Lato opened his Golden Boot campaign with a gift goal. Daniel Carnevali in the Argentina goal dropped the ball from a corner as he collided with one of his own defenders, the Polish striker sidefooting the ball into the empty net.
The Poles doubled their lead a minute later as Argentina’s defence imploded again. Lato was giftwrapped the ball in midfield before he slid the ball to his strike partner Andrezj Szarmach who fired home from the edge of the box.
Poland were in total control, Kazimerez Deyna hitting an effort from 25 yards which the keeper did well to scramble around the post. Lato came close to making it 3-0 when his 30 yard free kick hit the post before the Argentinians had another incredible escape. After carving through the defence Deyna was denied by a block from the keeper, the ball falling to Lato. He held it up well before rolling the ball across the area for Szarmach whose shot was then kicked off the line.
The second half saw no improvement from Argentina’s defence, handing Szarmach a chance to shoot goalwards, his effort again striking the post.
The Poles may have had cause to rue those missed chances when Argentina got back into the game on the hour mark, Ramon Hereida curling home from the edge of the box.
Two minutes later though Poland restore their two goal advantage, and again the South Americans shot themselves in the foot, After making a good save from Gorgon’s 25 yard free kick, Carnevali threw the ball straight back to Lato who smashed the ball past the hapless keeper to make it 3-1.
The craziest goal of the game was still to come just four minutes later. Kempes put a cross into the area where it was met by Carlos Babbington. His shot hit the post, the ball rebounding straight back to him. His second effort was blocked by Jan Tomaszewski in the Polish goal, the ball bobbling back into his path for him to fire home at the third attempt.
Poland hung on to grab the win, surviving a late scare when Enrique Wolf’s free kick came off the back of a Polish defender, the ball looping just wide of the post.
ITALY 3 HAITI 1 15/06/1974
Italy recovered from the shock of conceding their first goal in 12 international matches to see of the Caribbean minnows and avoid a repeat of their 1966 humiliation against North Korea.
Th match shown live on the BBC had David Coleman on commentary duty and he would have been expecting a goal glut from the Italians. However it had all the signs of being one of those nights as Italy just could not get the ball into the net as they dominated the first half. Haiti’s hero was goalkeeper Henry Francillon who produced a string of saves to deny the star-studded Italians.
After soaking up all the pressure, Haiti took a shock lead with a classic sucker punch just after half time. A long ball through put Emmanuel Sanon through and he showed admirable strength to hold off the defender, round Dino Zoff and tuck the ball into the empty net sparking scenes of unadulterated joy on the Haiti bench.
Italy’s blushes were spared within six minutes as Gianni Rivera levelled, lashing home from the edge of the box. Haiti almost restored their lead with a shot from the edge of the box which forced Zoff into a fine save, before they took the lead on 66 minutes.
Romeo Benetti was the man to score the vital second, his driven effort from the edge of the area deflecting in off a Haitian defender Arsene Auguste. Italy wrapped up the victory with a third goal from Pietro Anastasi, the head of a queue of players waiting to nock the ball in.
Haiti had enjoyed their moment in the spotlight, but things were about to go wrong in a big way, starting with the discovery that Ernst Jean-Joseph had failed his post match drug test and would be sent home for using an illegal stimulant.