Hungary tried to make it three straight in West Germany, but fell to midfielder Kazimierz Deyna and Poland in the final, 2-1. Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Poland took advantage of near gale-force winds at their backs to pull out the win before 80,000 spectators in the Olympic Stadium.
Deyna, who scored both goals in the final and who finished with nine goals, was far from a one-man show. He had some help from Grzegroz Lato, who would later shine in the 1982 World Cup, and Robert Gadocha.
Hungary entered the match with a 16-0-2 unbeaten streak. Their last loss was to Denmark in the semi-finals in 1960, 2-0.
There was little doubt the Poles were the superior team in this tournament, which switched from a single-elimination quarter-finals and semi-finals to second-round group play. They rolled through the first round with a 3-0 record, beating Colombia, 5-1 (Gadocha had three goals, Deyna two), Ghana (two more for Gadocha and one for Deyna), 4-0, and East Germany, 2-1 (two goals by Jerzy Gorgon).
In the second-round group competition, the Poles tied Denmark, 1-1, but rebounded with a 2-1 win over the Soviet Union and a 5-0 triumph over Morocco to reach the gold-medal match as Deyna scored four more times.
In a rare confrontation between the two Germanys in the second round group competition, East prevailed over West, 3-2. Joachim Streich and Eberhard Vogel scored in the final half to qualify for the bronze-medal match.
In an Olympic first, two teams shared bronze-medal honours as East Germany and the Soviet Union played to a 2-2 draw in the third-place match. There was no mechanism in place to determine a winner.