Estadio Maracana

Maracana: Seven momentous matches from its 70 years

The Maracana
© Getty Images
  • The Maracana hosted it first match 70 years ago today
  • We recall seven of its most biggest matches
  • Pele, Bebeto, Romario and Neymar all star

Brazil 1-2 Uruguay

Brazil 1950 deciding match

Uruguay +1; Brazil +11. The goal difference from the teams’ first two games of the final phase, against Spain and Sweden, said it all. Brazil had an exceptional side, home advantage and required only a draw to lift the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy for the first time. They led with just 25 minutes left, but after Juan Schiaffino equalised, Alcides Ghiggia snatch glory for Uruguay.

Alcides Ghiggia: “Only three people have ever been able to silence the Maracana: the Pope, Frank Sinatra and me.”

Further reading
Ghiggia: I felt sorry for the Brazilians
The Maracanazo marvels in numbers
Uruguay’s manic Maracana coronation
Mario Americo’s magnificent seven

Vasco 1-2 Santos

Robertão Tournament 1969

It was well past 11pm on a Wednesday, but nobody among the 65,000 in attendance cared that they had work or school the next day. It condemned Vasco to defeat, but for once their diehard fans didn’t care. Everybody had come to witness history, and with 12 minutes remaining, Pele become the first player in history to reach 1,000 career goals. The Maracana erupted. Amid hysterical scenes, play took 25 minutes to resume. Oh what a night.

Pele: “Now that everyone is listening, help the children, help the helpless. That’s my only wish at this very special time for me.”

Further reading
Pele cracks the first thousand
Pele: I had the shakes in 1970
The King rocks NYC
What they said about Pele

Brazil 2-0 Argentina

Copa America 1989

Brazil hadn’t won the Copa America in 40 years. Their class of 1989 was being chastised. Their two forwards, Bebeto and Romario, supposedly hated one another. Finishing second behind Paraguay in Group A heightened the criticism. Argentina, by contrast, had won Group B, were the reigning world champions and boasted the incomparable Diego Maradona.

In front of over 100,000, however, Brazil delivered an exhilarating performance. Bebeto bagged a magnificent volley and Romario an opportunistic goal in a 2-0 victory that flattered their victims. One of the best double acts in football history had been born and two days later they helped edge Uruguay to end that four-decade wait for continental glory.

Bebeto: “During the Copa America, Romario came and hugged, joked and said, ‘We have to put this to bed’. We did. I think that volley was the best goal I scored in my career. After the game Maradona told me he’d never seen a goal so beautiful.”

Further reading
Bebeto: I get emotional talking about my celebration

Brazil 2-0 Uruguay

USA 1994 qualifying

Brazil were in grave danger of losing their proud, unique record of having played in every World Cup. Carlos Alberto Parreira nevertheless refused to listen to a booming outcry for the recall of Romario, who had been exiled from the squad for over a year due to disciplinary reasons. An injury crisis, however, forced him to relent and hand ‘Shortie’ a last-minute call-up for the clash with nemesis Uruguay – and then name him in his starting XI.

Goalless with less than 20 minutes remaining, the match was, of course, decided by two late goals from A Seleção's prodigal son. Brazil and Romario were on their way to USA 1994, and the rest is the stuff of World Cup history.

Carlos Alberto Parreira: “God sent Romario to the Maracana."

Further reading
Reinstated Romario saves Brazil
Romario: We made a downtrodden nation ecstatic
The Senna-saluting Seleção of ’94 in stats

Brazil 5-0 USA

Pan American Games 2007 final

Brazil may have thrashed USA 4-0 in the China 2007 semi-finals, but they ultimately fell short in the Final. And when it came to deciders, A Seleção were accustomed to falling short against the USWNT. This time, though, Cristiane and Marta hit doubles a piece in an electric 5-0 victory over a side including Alyssa Naeher, Tobin Heath, Kelley O’Hara and Lauren Cheney (now Holiday).

“We only realised the magnitude of what was happening when we left the dressing room. 70,000 fans there to watch us – it was indescribable. It was very good for women’s football and the victory was very good for Brazilian women’s football.”
Marta

Further reading
Marta: Without hard work, talent will get you nowhere
Cristiane: Marta is without doubt the greatest in history
Sheroes: Marta's speech inspires generations

Brazil celebrate winning women's football gold at the Pan American Games 2007
© Getty Images

Germany 1-0 Argentina (AET)

Brazil 2014 Final

The atmosphere was electric. Innumerable Argentinians were inside the Maracana, while the Brazilians passionately cheered against their fierce rivals and for the Germans, A Seleção's semi-final conquerors. Little had separated Germany and Argentina in the Finals of Mexico 1986 and Italy 1990, and that was the case again, with Mario Gotze’s splendid volley making him the first substitute to score a World Cup-winning goal.

Mario Gotze: “[Joachim Low] said, ‘Show the world you’re better than Messi.’”

Further reading
Brazil 2014 | The Official Film
Lahm: Winning the World Cup is indescribable
Germany's 2014 champions in numbers

Brazil 1-1 Germany AET (5-4 on penalties)

Men's Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 final

Brazil had never, despite perennially sending star-stacked teams, won Olympic football gold. Neymar missed their 7-1 defeat by Germany at Brazil 2014 through injury, but he scored the fastest goal in the tournament’s history and the winning penalty in the shootout on a paradisaical day for the Brazilian game.

“It’s one of the happiest moments in my life. I can’t explain how happy I am. I’m so, so emotional.”
Neymar

Further reading
Neymar: Mbappe can become one of the greatest in history

Butler: Any team with Neymar has a shot

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