The World Cup has stayed true to tradition, at least to the extent that a European team has still to win it in Latin America.
Holland came very close in a game characterized by Harshness and excitement rather than by soccer of any distinction, but in the end, the Dutch were undone by the individual brilliance of Mario Kempes. The Argentinian striker made remarkable goals out of nothing twice; once in the first half, once in extra time. It was too much for a Dutch team, which so severely missed the genius of Johan Cruyff.
The 3-1 score was rather severe for the Dutch, especially when you consider that for most of the game they had the upper hand in midfield, and were denied largely by the splendid goalkeeping of Argentina's Ubaldo Fillo.
In the first half, he made a magnificent safe from Johnny Rep, after his defense had weakly pushed Wim Jansen [WORD ILLEGIBLE]cross straight to the Dutchman, and he saved with his leg Rob Rensenbrink, when Johan Neeskens nodded the ball down.
Neeskens was frustrated by Fillol in the second half, when he drove in a tremendous long, low right-footed shot. The Dutch were also terribly unlucky to see Rensenbrink hit the lefthand post of the Argentinian goal in the very last minutes of regular play.
Far the better team in terms of general movement and originality, the Dutch nevertheless made one or two expensive tactical mistakes. The most surprising was that they did not set anyone to closely mark Kempes. This meant that he was given abundant space in his position of attacking left midfield, racing forward to join the other three Argentinian attackers. Each time the scored, it was as the result of a superb solo burst, but had he had a Dutch marker on him when he received the ball, it is doubtful he would have scored as he did.
Daniel Passarella, who spoiled an otherwise fine performance by elbowing Neeskens in the face late in the game, made himself four good chances to score with his enterprise in the first half, obliging the veteran and excellent Dutch goalkeeper Jan Jongboed to save three of them. But this again implied casual marking by the Dutch.
The incompetent refereeing of Sergio Gonella, of Italy, did not help the Dutch at all. True, their own attitude was sour and abrasive from the very first minute, but Gonella plainly and sometimes disgracefully favored the home team. By the end, when it had become a very nasty game indeed, he scarcely had control of matters at all. In the very last minute, it was perhaps appropriate that he ignored what appeared to be a penalty against the Dutch.
Holland got the very good equalizing goal it deserved when Arie Haan, who, with Neeskens provided much of the team's dynamism, swung a beautiful long cross ball from left to right. Rene van de Kerkhof, cleverly returned the ball, and the tall substitute, Dirk Wanninga, headed past Fillol.
Kempes, Argentina's tailismanic Hero, was involved in his team's third goal, too, when he and the consistently incisive Daniel Bertoni forced their way through a Dutch defense, by then seriously undermanned, and Bertoni supplied the final touch.
It was as well that Kempes pulled those two invaluable rabbits out of the hat, since Leopoldo Lugue, who began the World Cup like a lion, has gone out like a lamb.
All in all, it was a competition and a final that left a rather unpleasant taste. Argentina deserved ultimately to win on the day, but you could scarcely imagine them winning the competition anywhere else but in Argentina.