Friday, June 19, 2009

19 June 1958 - The Kid Is Alright

On 19 June 1958, Brazil defeated Wales 1-0 in a World Cup quarterfinal match before a crowd of 25,000 at Råsunda Stadium in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Brazilian team was eager to prove itself after an early exit in the previous World Cup. Several new players had been added, as well as a new manager, Vicente Feola. They had finished at the top of their group in the first round without conceding a goal, including wins over Austria (3-0) and the Soviet Union (2-0), and a 0-0 draw with England.

The Welsh side, on the other hand, had advanced to the quarterfinals without a win. They drew with Hungary (1-1), Mexico (1-1), and Sweden (0-0) to finish second in their group.

In the first half, both sides played defensively and neither was able to score. That changed in the 66th minute. Brazil's central midfielder Didi headed the ball into the Welsh penalty area, where it was collected by the youngest player in the tournament--Edison Arantes do Nascimento, nicknamed Pelé, a 17-year, 239-day old Brazilian midfielder who was playing in only his second World Cup match. Pelé chested the ball down and deftly passed it around the Welsh defender before slotting it into the bottom corner of the goal. It was Pelé's first World Cup goal and the only goal of the match, giving Brazil the win.

Brazil advanced and eventually won the tournament, beating Sweden 5-2 in the Final. Pelé scored five more goals in the tournament, including two in the Final against Sweden. He went on to become the all-time leading scorer for the Brazilian national team with 77 goals in 92 appearances and led them to two more World Cup titles in 1962 and 1970.

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