Since the Brazilians had looked too convincing in the first two matches, the Brazilian coach put two new players that had not played the first matches on the team: the Botafogo striker Garrincha, who was already known for his incredible dribbling abilities, as well as a 17-year old striker from Santos, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or rather, Pelé.
Although neither of the players scored, they were instrumental in giving Brazil a 2-0 victory against a stunned USSR team, where the captain, Igor Netto, later said that he was stunned at the Brazilians beautiful game.
And this match set the stage for what became a Brazilian theater of beautiful football, where players such as Garrincha, Vavá and most of all Pelé quickly became idols in Sweden. In the quarterfinals Brazil defeated Wales 1-0 on a lone goal by Pelé, and in the semi-final they trashed one of the best French sides in history (with thelegendary Just Fonaine, who became the most scoring player of the tournament, and until 2002 was still the most scoring player in history) 5-2, and again the 17-year old Pelé scored three goals.
Brazil was ready for the final where the entire world was eager to see this marvelous team!
In the meantime, the hosting Swedes had played well in solid victories against Mexico and Hungary and a tie against Wales in the first round. In the quarterfinal they defeated the USSR 2-0.
Not only benefitting from the home-advantage, Sweden also had a team of outstanding players, revolving around the AC Milan captain Nils Liedholm, the Roma striker Gunnar Nordahl (who had played in AC Milan for seven years, scoring 221 goals, and is still the second most scoring player in the history of AC Milan), as well as the ageing but legendary Gunnar Gren, who had played many years in Italy.
In spite of this, Sweden had during the tournament had some problems mobilizing its fans, who seemed to be rather indifferent to the home side’s results.
In the semi-final the Swedes played the defending world champions of West Germany. Finally the Swedish fans managed to get excited about their team, which played one of the most legendary matches in Sweden’s football history. Leading 2-1 Kurt Hamrin cemented the victory by scoring an extraordinary last goal in the 3-1 victory that took Sweden to the final (Kurt Hamrin, who the same year had changed from Padova to Fiorentina, and became one of the most scoring players in the history of the Serie A).
Sweden was excited to be playing the entertaining and popular Brazilians in the final!
It was the first World Cup final to be transmitted live on television, so millions were watching the match which started on a pitch that was wet from an entire day of rain, something that seemed to favour the home team. And when Nils Liedholm passsed through two weak Brazilian defenders after only four minutes, he seemed to confirm this as he brought Sweden ahead 1-0.
This was the first time that Brazil was losing during the entire tournament, and some people were wondering whether this would cause the South Americans to crash. But this didn’t prove the case, as the Brazilians were overly confident of their abilities. Garrincha seemed unstoppable on the Swedish left-hand defence: within half an hour Brazil went ahead 2-1 on two almost identical goals by Vavá, where he only had to push the ball in after flat crossing from Garrincha on the right.
Brazil was ahead by half-time, and second half was the moment of glory for the young wonder Pelé. Ten minutes into the second half he scored one of the most beautiful goals in a world cup final, when he received a high ball in the Swedish area, stopped it with his chest, and while rounding the Swedish defender, tipped the ball over the defender and smashing the ball into the net with a perfect volley.
Only thirteen minutes later, as the Brazilians were showing off their marvelous footballing skills, the legendary Mario Zagallo took advantage of a Swedish defensive mistake to make it 4-1 (Zagallo was in 1970 the first man ever to win the World Cup both as a player and a manager).
Sweden had been defeated, and it made no difference that Agne Simonsson scored for Sweden ten minutes before the end.
Only one minute from time, Pelé sealed his great performance to become a legend of football, by scoring the last goal of the final.
Brazil had won their first World Cup, in Europe, and to this day it is the only time a non-European side has won in Europe.
The World Cup in Sweden was surely the friendliest world cup, and the one that has been played with the best sportmanship. This was amply symbolized by the Swedish fans celebrating the Brazilian victory, and the Brazilian players thanking them by running a victory round with a giant Swedish flag.
- 29th June, 1958 Råsunda Stadion, Stockholm
- Attendance: 49,737
- Referee: Maurice Gigue (France)
Goals: 0-1 Liedholm (4), 1-1 Vavá (9), 2-1 Vavá (30), 3-1 Pelé (55), 4-1 Zagallo (68), 4-2 Simonsson (80), 5-2 Pelé (89)
Brazil: Gilmar, D. Santos, N. Santos, Zito, Bellini, Orlando, Garrincha, Didí, Vavá, Pelé, Zagallo
Sweden: Svensson, Begmark, Axbom, Börjesson, Gustavsson, Parling, Hamrin, Gren, Simonson, Liedholm, Skoglund