Taking a two or three-goal lead does not necessarily guarantee victory at the World Cup, as this selection of incredible comebacks prove.
26/06/1954 Switzerland 5-7 Austria (quarter-final)
Goals: Ballaman 16, 39, Hügi 17, 23, 58; Wagner 24, 27, 52, Körner 26, 34, Ocwirk 32, Probst 76
Switzerland held a seemingly commanding 3-0 lead after just 24 minutes in their last-eight encounter with Austria back in 1954, yet somehow the host nation still managed to end up the losing side. Twelve goals were crammed into a crazy game of attacking football - and pretty dire defending - as the Swiss imploded after their early good work, conceding seven times (Theodore Wagner grabbed a hat-trick for the Austrians) and, for the record, scoring another two themselves. The referee in Lausanne was a Scot who went by the name of Charlie Faultless; the defending on show that day was anything but.
04/07/1954 West Germany 3-2 Hungary (final)
Goals: Morlock 11, Rahn 18, 84; Puskas 6, Czibor 9
Hungary appeared on course for a famous World Cup victory when they scored twice in the opening nine minutes in the final of the 1954 World Cup. But as the Austrians had shown in the quarter-finals, nothing could have been taken for granted at this tournament. A further nine minutes later that lead had been wiped out by two West German goals before, in the 84th minute, Helmut Rahn swooped for a second time to break Hungarian hearts and cap a miraculous fight-back from the Germans. What made the result even more remarkable was that it was the first time Hungary, led by goalscorer Ferenc Puskas, had been beaten in four years. The Miracle of Bern was born.
23/07/1966 Portugal 5-3 North Korea (quarter-final)
Goals: Eusebio 27, 42, 57, 59 pen, Jose Augusto 80; Park 1, Lee 22, Yang 25
Against all the odds, unfancied North Korea stunned Eusebio's Portugal in the opening stages of their quater-final at Goodison Park in 1966. The Asian side held an unthinkable 3-0 lead with just 25 minutes on the clock before the Portuguese machine finally kick-started into life. Eusebio led the charge, pulling one back just two minutes later before adding another and then registering his hat-trick on 57 minutes. He added a fourth just before the hour mark to put Portugal ahead for the first time in the match and the turnaround was complete inside just 32 minutes. Jose Augusto added a fifth for gloss as the Portuguese breathed a huge sigh of relief while the Koreans were left to wonder what might have been.
08/07/1982 France 3-3 West Germany (semi-final); West Germany win 5-4 on penalties
Goals: Platini 27 pen, Trésor 93, Giresse 99; Littbarski 18, K.-H. Rummenigge 103, K. Fischer 108
Seville's Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in the summer of 1982 and France held a 3-1 lead thanks to extra-time goals from Marius Tresor and Alain Giresse. Les Bleus were just 17 minutes from a spot in the final but their opponents' greater international experience told in the end; Karl-Heinz Rummenigge pulled one back before Klaus Fischer equalised in the 108th minute, sending the tie to penalty kicks for the first time in the tournament's history. And the Germans started as they meant to go on in that department, winning the shoot-out to give us all an indication of what was to come. To think how much different things could have been had Patrick Battiston's effort, 'under pressure' from Harald Schumacher, bounced inside instead of wide of the post towards the end of normal time...
14/06/1970 West Germany 3-2 England aet (quarter-final)
Goals: Beckenbauer 68, Seeler 82, G. Müller 108; Mullery 31, Peters 49
Twelve years prior, the Germans had dished out an equally impressive comeback win to England, in the last eight of the 1970 tournament in Mexico. England looked every part the defending champions they were that year when they opened up a two-goal advantage early in the second half after goals by Alan Mullery and Martin Peters. But Franz Beckenbauer and Uwe Seeler swooped to pull the Germans level later in the second half and send the tie into extra-time, when the ubiquitous Gerd Mueller sealed German success. Victory provided the Die Nationalmeinshaff with a degree of revenge for their defeat to England in the final four years earlier.
19/06/1938 Brazil 4-2 Sweden (third-place play-off)
Goals: Romeu 42, Leonidas 52, 70, Peracio 80; Jonasson 13, Nyberg 23
Another upset in the making that was to fall short in the final reckoning was Sweden's efforts against Brazil in the 1938 edition. Leading 2-0 until the 42nd minute, the Scandinavians were pegged back by Romeu's goal on 42 minutes before Brazil restored parity just after the break through Leonidas. Two goals in 10 minutes had deflated the Swedish balloon but it was Leonidas' second of the game in the 80th minute that burst it completely.
11/06/2002 Senegal 3-3 Uruguay (first round)
Goals: Fadiga 20 pen, P.B. Diop 26, 38; Morales 46, Forlan 69, Recoba 88 pen
Making their first appearance at the World Cup finals in 2002, few gave Senegal a chance of progressing from a group containing defending champions France, two-times former winners Uruguay and Denmark. But progress they did, despite a remarkable capitulation against Uruguay which saw them blow a three-goal half-time lead. Uruguay emerged after the break a different side and goals from Richard Morales, Diego Forlan and Alvaro Recoba - the latter coming right at the death - saw the South Americans salvage an improbable point. Their efforts were in vain though, and the Celeste failed to get out of the group. Senegal reached the quarters.
09/06/1938 Switzerland 4-2 Germany (last-16 replay)
Goals: Walaschek 42, Bickel 65, A. Abegglen 76, 79; Hahnemann 9, Lörtscher 22
With the Germans 2-0 up approaching half-time it looked like Josef Herberger's side would make it second time lucky after drawing their first encounter with Switzerland 1-1. But, as is so often the case, a goal conceded just before the break proved fatal. Eugène Walaschek reduced the arrears in the 42nd minute before Alfred Bickel brought the Swiss back to parity at the Parc des Princes in Paris. A quick-fire brace from André Abegglen then did for Germany and ultimately three goals inside a quarter-of-an-hour was the difference between the two sides.
03/06/1962 Soviet Union 4-4 Colombia (first round)
Goals: V. Ivanov 8, 11, Shislenko 10, Ponedelnik 56; Aceros 21, Coll 68,Rada 72, Klinger 86
As far as good starts go, the USSR's against Colombia in 1962 was pretty much as good as they get. Three goals to the good after just 11 minutes and the Soviets were not only in the driving seat of their first-round match, they were sitting in an extremely comfortable position. Even German Aceros' goal on 21 minutes failed to spark the South Americans' cause, and when Viktor Ponedelnik scored a fourth for the USSR just before the hour mark, it seemed the final nail had been hammered into the Colombians' coffin. But the final 22 minutes proved otherwise as the combative Colombians finally fought back, scoring three times in 18 minutes to secure a famous draw.
02/06/1970 Peru 3-2 Bulgaria (first round)
Goals: Gallardo 50, Chumpitaz 55, T. Cubillas 73; Demendjiev 13, Bonev 49
Rated as an outside chance at the 1970 World Cup, Peru weren't at the races for over half the match at the Estadio Nou Camp in León. Having fallen two down with Bulgarian goals in each half, the Peruvians finally pulled their fingers out, star players Hector Chumpitaz and Teofilo Cubillas leading the way in a devastating 23-minute period that simply blew Bulgaria away.
21/06/2006 Ivory Coast 3-2 Serbia-Montenegro (first round)
Goals: Dindane 37 pen, 67, B. Kalou 85 pen; Zigic 10, Ilic 20
Appearing at their first tournament, Serbia and Montenegro had already been beaten 1-0 by Holland and hammered 6-0 by Argentina but after 20 minutes at the Allianz Arena in Munich, the Balkan nation was daring to dream of a first World victory. They hadn't reckoned with fellow debutants Ivory Coast though. Aruna Dindane got the Elephants on the scoresheet with a penalty on 37 minutes before Bonaventure Kalou pulled his side level on 67 and then grabbed the winner from the spot with just five minutes remaining. At the Serbs' expense, the Ivorians had their own first victory while avoiding the wooden spoon by not finishing last in their group; that ignominy was left for their opponents on the night.
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