The game itself was almost indecently melodramatic. It was only the second World Cup final in history to be decided in an overtime period—and the only one ever to be tied in the last 30 seconds of regular play.
The West Germans, a big, strong team with more individual talent than England, scored first: Ray Wilson, an English defensive back, made the mistake of heading a ball directly to the feet of Helmut Haller, almost in the mouth of the English goal. The surprised Haller stopped the ball, then hit quickly, caroming the shot off the thigh of an English player and into the net. It was the first goal in the tournament scored from the field against Gordon Banks, the exceptionally competent English goalie.
Six minutes later England evened the score. Hurst got the first of his three goals, this one a header off a free kick by Moore. Then Martin Peters, a tall, slender forward, put England ahead with 12 minutes left in the game when he sent home a goal after a brief scrimmage in front of the German net. The crowd was now convinced that England had won, but the West Germans tied it up, with the assistance of Swiss Referee Gottfried Dienst, an unfortunately whistle-happy official. Earlier in the game, after some of Dienst's calls, the crowd had sung, "Oh, my, what a bad referee!" to the tune of O dear! What can the matter be. But after he had given the West Germans a free kick from about 25 yards out—with less than a minute to play—they simply booed.
He called the penalty on Jackie Charlton, a tall, long-necked defensive player who had climbed up the back of a German to knock a ball away with his head. To the English crowd, it looked as though the German had "made a back" for Charlton, or backed into him as a block. At any rate, in the melee in front of the English goal after the free kick, Wolfgang Weber smacked the ball through Banks, and to the absolute dismay of almost everybody the game was tied 2-2.
Ten minutes into the overtime period, Nobby Stiles, the smallest and one of the best players on the field, passed the ball to Alan Ball, another tiny, red-haired forward. Ball tipped it to Hurst, who slammed it high up against the bottom of the crossbar in the German goal. It came down on the goal line, and there were some agonizing moments for the crowd before a goal was allowed. Dienst suddenly seemed struck with indecision and had to ask Tofik Bakhramov, a Russian linesman, for his opinion. Since Bakhramov can speak only Russian and Turkish, his opinion was not easily understood, but at last he made it clear that he considered the kick a goal. The crowd went wild again.
To make sure there could be no doubt about the better team, Hurst added his final goal with the last kick of the game. He broke loose after taking a long pass and bore down on the German goalkeeper with only one other defender between him and the net. He jinked by the fullback and drove the ball high and hard past the goalie, kicking with his left foot. His first goal he had scored with his head, his second with his right foot.
Thus, the World Cup tournament, which had begun and proceeded with acrimony and accusations, ended happily. Even the Germans seemed content. "It is not so bad to finish second to a great team," their manager said. "We have the right to lose, you know."
By the time competition had reached the quarterfinals, it had become clear that this was not to be a festival of fine soccer and goodwill to all. The strong Italian side had been put out in the biggest upset since the United States defeated England 1-0 in 1950. Then North Korea, a mystery team ignored by everybody, defeated the Italians 1-0 and qualified for the quarterfinals.
The Italians went home, trying to sneak into Genoa unnoticed—only to find a crowd of several hundred people waiting, armed with elderly tomatoes. The team was greeted with cries of "Assassins!" and volleys of tomatoes, most of them better aimed than the Italian shots at the goal had been.
When Brazil, the defending champion, was eliminated by Portugal before it could reach the quarterfinals, a Brazilian girl jumped over the side of her cruise ship in an earnest endeavor to kill herself; she was fished out of the sea alive and weeping. A West German fan, watching his team winning an early match on TV, hanged himself in exasperation when his set went on the blink.