"The other hand of God": 30 years after Maradona's save in San Paolo that saved Argentina from elimination in the 90 World Cup

The nightmare seemed not to be over. That harsh defeat in the debut against Cameroon had put Argentina in distress, which was obliged to beat the Soviet Union (USSR) for the second date of Group B so as not to suffer with an elimination in the first phase, which would touch the role. for being the current world champion.

These fears multiplied when, ten minutes into the game, Nery Alberto Pumpido suffered a very serious injury that took him completely out of the World Cup. The crash against Vasco Olarticoechea caused him a fracture of the tibia and fibula of his right leg that forced the entry of Sergio Goycochea, who was already testing the hero and savior's record in the penalties against Yugoslavia, for the quarterfinals, and the host Italy in the semifinals.

Goyco had not yet settled under the three poles, when very clear action came for the Soviets. At that precise moment, the mischief of Diego Armando Maradona appeared in all its glory. How occurred four years earlier against England for the quarterfinals of Mexico World Cup, the Argentine captain saved Albiceleste with"The other hand of God".

It was a spicy center from the left corner kick, Oleg Kusnetsov anticipated José Basualdo and combed the ball at the apex of the small area. With Goycochea from the front and with a ball that was looking for a goal, Maradona managed to put the slap straight savior to clear and thus avoid somewhat lapidary. Despite the strong claim of the Soviets, Swedish referee Erik Fredriksson did not penalize and in the Argentine bank this controversial action by Diego it was celebrated almost as a goal.

Of course, the anger was evident in the Soviets and especially in their coach, Valeri Lobanowsky, who made it known at a hot press conference.

“Fredriksson cannot referee one more game in his life. When mistakes of this magnitude are made in a World Cup, the result is falsified. The referee has not seen a penalty that we have all seen. This decision has conditioned the party. Later Fredriksson wanted to repair his damage with a multitude of favorable fouls in midfield. I hope that someday justice will be done against this referee, ”shot the European coach after the match, not knowing that despite the 4-0 win over Cameroon on the last date, they would be eliminated in the first round for finishing fourth in the group, just one unit behind. Argentina, who passed the phase as the best third.

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"We all fail in football, including the referees", declared Maradona at a press conference that had boiled over. But time later, with his particular mischief, the Argentine captain recognized: "In the 1990 World Cup too I used my hand against the Soviet Union to clear a ball on our line. At that time the referee didn't see her either, we were lucky! ”

"The other hand of God", as Diego baptized it, has substantial differences with respect to the one he did against England in Mexico in 1986. Against the English, Maradona used his left fist to mark the partial 1-0, prior to his work of art with escalation from the half of the field, while before the USSR he appealed to the right hand to avoid the key goal against. Of course, both ended up being equally celebrated for its importance both in the context of the game and in the tournament.

That June 13, 1990, the San Paolo stadium, where the Neapolitans marveled at the best soccer player Maradona, he witnessed a new action, controversial by the way, but that would be recorded in history. That Diego save within the area, which Today is 30 years old, allowed Carlos Salvador Bilardo's team to emerge unscathed from a situation that would have mortgaged the goals of the squad.

As if by magic or, better said, by the magic of the Ten, the team overcame this difficult trance and was able to get back on track. First in the game, thanks to so many of Pedro Troglio and Jorge Burruchaga for the final triumph by 2-0; and then to go drawing one by one the following tests that would come to reach a new definition of the most important contest in the world at the national team level.

In addition to the other hand of God of Maradona, that World Cup in Italy 90 will remain in the memory of all for the surprise setback of the debut, against the violent Cameroonians, for being the National Team that needed the fewest games to win to reach a Cup final of the World (only to the USSR and Brazil, in eighths) and for losing the decisive match against Germany, with a very controversial referee from Codesal.


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