There was much bad blood between England and Argentina — two powerhouses of world soccer — well before a ball was kicked in anger at the quarterfinals of 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Four years earlier, the two nations had gone to war over the Falkland Islands.
Diego Armando Maradona, Argentina’s greatest-ever player, scored both his side’s goals in the 2-1 victory. For the first, despite appearing to head the ball, the player actually used his fist to loop it over the English goalkeeper. England complained vociferously to the referee, but the goal stood, and it was followed a few minutes later by a second in which Maradona dribbled the ball from the halfway line, passing most of England’s defenders in the process, and slotted it into the net as casually as if he were playing a practice match.
After the match, cocky Maradona said the goal had been scored “un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios” (a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God). Then the political undercurrents bubbled up, with Maradona claiming that the goal and Argentina’s victory were retribution for his country’s defeat to the English in the Falklands war. “We blamed the English players for everything that happened, for all the suffering of the Argentine people … This was revenge.”
Video and photographic evidence demonstrated that he had struck the ball with his hand, which was shown on television networks and in newspapers all over the world. The goal helped intensify the footballing rivalry between the two nations: Argentina went on to win the World Cup and the English now felt that they had been cheated out of a possible World Cup victory, while the Argentinians enjoyed the manner in which they had taken the lead.
Of all the photos, the above one by Bob Thomas gave a clear view of the incident that the referee had missed.