If England were the winners of the 1966 FIFA World Cup, it was Portugal who boasted the tournament's outstanding individual performer. In their first finals appearance, Otto Gloria's side went all the way to the semi-finals inspired by the brilliance of Eusebio. This was never more apparent than in an unforgettable quarter-final against Korea DPR where the Benfica striker and reigning European Footballer of the Year virtually single-handedly rescued his team from defeat, scoring four times as Portugal fought back from three goals behind to win.
The hosts apart, this Goodison Park quarter-final featured arguably the two best-loved teams of that English FIFA World Cup. The Portuguese, with the stars of Benfica's great 1960s team, had already earned a place in the Liverpool crowd's affections with thrilling wins over Hungary and deposed champions Brazil. As for the Koreans, unknowns from a country shrouded in secrecy, they had provided the shock of the tournament against Italy in their previous match, Pak Doo Ik's goal at Ayresome Park catapulting them into the quarter-finals and sending their opponents home to a barrage of rotten tomatoes.
If the Koreans' victory over Italy had awoken the world to the fact that the Asian team could play, it seemed some of Portugal's players were still taking the message on board when the minnows hit them with a sensational strike in the first minute. After a cutting move down the right, the ball came to Pak Seung Zin in the middle and he let fire with his right foot. Amazingly, the ball picked up speed, soaring past Jose Pereira, off the underside of the crossbar and in. The Koreans piled onto the scorer in celebration.
Having won the hearts of the Middlesbrough fans in the group phase with their positive, fast-moving style, it seemed the underdogs now had the majority of the Goodison Park crowd behind them. "When we played against Portugal they supported us passionately," Pak Doo Ik recalled many years later. For the opening quarter Portugal found themselves chasing shadows. After Eusebio had misplaced an effort at one end, the Koreans broke with a swift counterattack to the other. When Pereira misjudged the ensuing cross looped in from the right, Yang Sung Kook, collecting the ball at the far post, slammed it low cross across the face of goal and Li Dong Woon stepped in to score the Koreans' second on the half-volley.
Two goals ahead after 22 minutes, the lyrics of the Asian team's song - played in place of their national anthem, which for political reasons they could not use - were beginning to sound prophetic: "We can beat everyone, even the strongest team." After the restart Eusebio angrily sizzled a free kick past a post but three minutes later it was 3-0. Yang Sung Kook, attacking up the left, played a pass inside to Pak Doo Ik who fired a hopeful shot at goal. The strike deflected back into the path of Yang Sung Kook, who had continued his run, and after working a shooting position, he buried the ball into the far corner.
Three goals down, Portugal goalkeeper Pereira had his head in his hands while team-mates looked at one another accusingly. Yet within two minutes of the restart, Eusebio had given Portugal a glimmer of hope. Antonio Simoes picked out his Benfica colleague ghosting past his marker and, breaking into the box, Eusebio found the top corner. In no mood for celebration, the No13 dug the ball out from the back of the net and raced back to the centre circle.
Suddenly it was a different match. Only once before in FIFA World Cup history had a team won from 3-0 down yet the North Korean defence was now struggling to contain the player they called the 'Black Pearl'. With the half winding down, centre-forward Jose Torres broke clean through on goal only to have legs taken from him by a defender. Israeli referee Menachem Ashkenazi pointed to the spot and Eusebio stepped up, ramming it to the top corner before again retrieving the ball urgently from the back of the net and heading back to the centre-circle.
Trailing 3-2 at the break, Portugal were level by the 56 th minute. Starting a move off in his own territory, Eusebio set off immediately on a run toward goal, freeing himself of his marker in time to meet Simoes' through-ball and fire a shot past Li Chan Myong. Three minutes later Eusebio made it 4-3, picking himself up and converting his second spot-kick of the afternoon after an exhilarating run down the left was ended illegally inside the Korean box. With the Koreans out of ideas, Eusebio's corner then supplied the final goal as Jose Augusto joined him on the crowded score sheet.
A young English boy could be seen chasing Eusebio around the pitch at the end, waving a newspaper and begging for an autograph. His heroics had earned Portugal a place in the semi-finals and although defeat followed against England, he would finish the finals with nine goals and the Golden Shoe, and the Portuguese with third place. The Koreans too departed as heroes, their achievements as Asia's first FIFA World Cup quarter-finalists to be long remembered - and surpassed only in 2002 when their southern neighbours reached the semi-finals on home soil.
ASHKENAZI Menachem (ISR)