The Quarterfinals of the ninth FIFA World Cup in Mexico kicked on June 14, 1970, at Azteca where two heavyweights from Eastern Europe and Latina America met each other to claim a place in the semifinals. The USSR had been brilliant in the group stages, where they exhibited their scientific football whereas Uruguay had been defensive and finished second behind Italy – they just leapfrogged Sweden on goal difference.
As usual, the sun was beating down in Mexico City. The high altitude and extreme heat took a heavy toll on the players of both teams.
It was a dull affair throughout the 90 minutes.
The USSR were the favourites to advance, but on that sultry afternoon, their scientific football just could not regain the rhythm against a sturdy Uruguayan unit.
After a goalless full-time, the game went to extra-time.
At the start of extra-time, Soviet talisman Anatoliy Byshovets scored a goal, which was later ruled offside by the referee.
Lady luck was on Uruguay’s side on that afternoon.
Victor Esparrago was one of the promising forwards for Uruguay back then.
But during Mexico 70, Esparrago did not cut a satisfactory figure in the group stages.
In the quarter-finals against the Soviet Union, Esparrago was benched.
In 103rd minute, Esparrago came on to play, replacing Dagoberto Fontes.
With only two minutes left, Uruguay skipper Luis Ubinas sent a long ball from the right flank which was fought by Soviet skipper Albert Shesternyov and Uruguay’s Julio Cesar Castillo.
The ball nearly went outside when Atilio Ancheta got the ball and passed it towards Esparrago, who headed past the running Soviet goalie Anzor Kavazashvili.
Uruguay won the match 1-0!
It was a surprising result.
The favourites USSR had to pack their baggage and leave home.
Uruguay were sensing the repeat of 1950 in Mexico.