As 1986 had been declared the International Year of Peace by the United Nations, the advertising boards of all the stadia displayed the emblems of FIFA and the United Nations along with the legend "Football for Peace - Peace Year".
For the design of the logo an unofficial motto was adopted: " El Mundo Unido por Un Balón" (The world united by a ball)
Three teams qualified for the World Cup for the first time: Canada, Denmark and Iraq. Canada clinched its spot after winning the final match against Honduras 2-1 in St. John's, Newfoundland, with the Hondurans wearing tuques and gloves on the field due to the cold weather. Iraq played all matches on neutral ground due to the Iran-Iraq war.
The first round of the finals began in Group A, where Italy were held 1-1 by a dour but spirited Bulgaria side. Meanwhile, Argentina had little trouble beating South Korea 3-1, with Diego Maradona in awesome form. Italy and Argentina drew 1-1 in a bad tempered affair, which saw Maradona and Alessandro Altobelli scoring. South Korea and Bulgaria also drew 1-1 in a Mexican downpour. The final set of matches saw Argentina beating Bulgaria 2-0, and Italy narrowly defeating South Korea 3-2 in an exciting match.
Group B was straightforward for the hosts, Mexico as they beat a defensive Belgium side 2-1, and despite being held 1-1 by Paraguay, they won the group after a further win over minnows Iraq, 1-0. Paraguay and Belgium also progressed after both beating Iraq and drawing with each other. Group C was an interesting contest as it pitted a strong Soviet Union side against the reigning European Champions France. They drew with each other in a fine match 1-1, which was notable for a fantastic goal by Vasili Rats. France has made hard work of beating Canada 1-0, but progressed in 2nd place after beating a demoralised and ageing Hungary, 3-0. Hungary had earlier lost 6-0 against the Soviet Union.
Group D saw Brazil start sluggishly against Spain, winning 1-0, although Spain had a legitimate goal disallowed. Northern Ireland began their campaign with a draw against Algeria. Northern Ireland were then beaten narrowly by Spain before being simply outclassed by Brazil 3-0 in their final match. This match saw a great goal from Josimar on his debut and was also the final time Pat Jennings would play for Northern Ireland. Spain qualified along with Brazil after defeating Algeria 3-0.
Denmark, stormed through Group E, highly dubbed the group of death with a 100 per cent record. They beat Scotland 1-0 in their first game, then hammered Uruguay 6-1, with Preben Elkjær Larsen hitting a hat-trick. But Denmark's most impressive result were when they beat one of the favourites to win the tournament, West Germany, 2-0 thanks to a Jesper Olsen penalty and a goal from John Eriksen. After losing to Denmark, Scotland took the lead against West Germany thanks to a Gordon Strachan goal, but the West Germans fought back to win 2-1. And after a violent 0-0 draw against Uruguay, the Scots were eliminated from the tournament. West Germany went through to the second round with the strength of a win and a 1-1 draw with Uruguay, who also qualified on just two draws.
Morocco topped Group F after holding both Poland and England to goalless draws, and then playing some marvellous football to beat Portugal, 3-1. By doing so, they became the first African team to reach the second round, and obviously the first to win a group. England looked to be in trouble after losing 1-0 to Portugal and then drew with the Moroccans. But in their last first-round game, a first-half Gary Lineker hat-trick helped them beat Poland 3-0. Poland had previously beaten Portugal, and in the end the Portuguese were the only team from Group F to be eliminated in the first round.
Perhaps the most surprising scoreline of the second round came from Queretaro, where Denmark, who were billed as dark horses for the tournament, were eliminated although there was nothing gracious about their exit as they went from a 1-0 lead to a 5-1 battering against Spain; key player Frank Arnesen was suspended for the game after being sent off against West Germany in their last group match, for taking a swipe at German playmaker Lothar Matthaeus. The Danes scored first, with a Jesper Olsen penalty, but they were then taken apart by a devastating performance from Butragueño of Spain, who scored four of his team's five goals. The other maulings of the second round came from England and Brazil. England progressed to the quarter-finals fairly comfortably when they saw off Paraguay 3-0 while Brazil brushed aside Poland 4-0. West Germany had a much harder time getting past Morocco, for whom goalkeeper Ezaki Zaki had an outstanding game in goal. Morocco held out until the 87th minute, when Lothar Matthaeus finally managed to score the only goal of the game. Mexico kept the home supporters happy with a 2-0 win over Bulgaria.
The most memorable quarter-final match saw France face the other three-time world champion, Brazil in Guadalajara. Brazil were well on top in the early stages, and Careca put them one up after 18 minutes. But then, five minutes before half-time, France drew level when Michel Platini converted a cross from Dominique Rocheteau. Brazil had a great chance to regain the lead in the second half when Branco was fouled by French 'keeper Joel Bats in the penalty area. Zico got up to take the kick, but Bats made amends for his foul by saving Zico's penalty.
The match went to extra time, and France had the better of the extra half-hour. But no more goals were scored, and so it was time for a penalty shoot-out. Surprisingly, Socrates failed with the first kick for Brazil. The next six penalties were all converted, and then Platini fired over the bar. Brazil were back on level terms - but not for long. Julio Cesar struck the post with his penalty, and Luiz Fernandez then scored to put France through 4-3 on penalties.
Two other quarter-finals were also decided on penalties. Jan Ceulemans put Belgium ahead against Spain in the 35th minute, but Spanish substitute Senor equalised with five minutes to go. No more goals were scored in extra time, and Belgium won the shoot-out 5-4. West Germany and Mexico drew 0-0 after extra time, and the West Germans eliminated the hosts 4-1 on penalties.
The quarter-final between Argentina, the last South American representative left, and England was unforgettable because of the two totally different goals scored by Diego Maradona: the first was scored illegally, as he punched the ball into the goal past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. The referee did not see the foul and the goal was given as valid. After the game, Maradona claimed the goal was scored "A bit with the head of Maradona and another bit with the hand of God"; it was known as the "The Hand of God" goal. For his second goal, voted "Goal of the Century" in 2002 on the FIFA website, Maradona dribbled half the length of the field past five English players before scoring. In Argentina, the game was not just seen as revenge for the Falklands War but mostly for what they still see as the unfair game in the 1966 FIFA World Cup.
Jose Brown put Argentina one up midway through the first half of the final, and when Jorge Valdano scored a second for the South Americans in the 55th minute, Argentina looked to be strolling to victory. But then West Germany staged a spirited comeback. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge pulled one back in the 74th minute, and six minutes later Rudi Völler hit the equaliser. The momentum now seemed to be with West Germany - but with seven minutes remaining, a brilliant pass from Maradona gave Jose Burruchaga the chance to score the winner for Argentina. Eight years on from their home triumph, Argentina regained the world title for the second time, and 30 million people in Argentina celebrated in the streets after the final victory. Maradona was the Golden Ball winner as the best player of the tournament, while Gary Lineker of England won the Golden Boot as the leading scorer of the World Cup with six goals.
|City||Stadium||Capacity||Matches||Teams hosted in the first round|
|Mexico||Estadio Azteca||114,600|| Opening match, Group B,|
QF, SF, Final
|Mexico||Estadio Olimpico Universitario||72,000||Group A, R2||, ,|
|Guadalajara||Estadio Jalisco||66,000||Group D, R2, QF, SF|
|Puebla||Estadio Cuauhtémoc||46,000|| Group A, R2, QF,|
|Monterrey||Estadio Universitario||44,000||Group F, R2, QF||*, *,|
|Queretaro||Estadio La Corregidora||40,785||Group E, R2|
|Monterrey||Estadio Tecnológico||38,000||Group F|
|León||Estadio Nou Camp||35,000||Group C, R2|
|Nezahualcoyotl||Estadio Neza 86||35,000||Group E||, ,|
|Irapuato||Estadio Sergio León Chavez||32,000||Group C||, ,|
|Guadalajara||Estadio Tres de Marzo||30,000||Group D||*, , *|
|Toluca||Estadio Nemesio Díez||30,000||Group B||, ,|
Bulgaria and Uruguay became the first nations to qualify for the knockout stage without winning a game in the first round. (Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland repeated the feat in 1990, and Chile in 1998.) In 1982 Italy advanced from the first group phase to the second group phase on the strength of just three draws and went on to win the tournament.
|Golden Shoe winner||Golden Ball winner||FIFA Fair Play Trophy|
|Gary Lineker||Diego Maradona|