France opened the inaugural World Cup with a dash – Mexico were thrashed by 4-1 with Lucien Laurent becoming a part of World Cup folklore. The next of the French were against the hot favourites Argentina.
Like Uruguay, that Argentine side was studded with quality players. They landed on Uruguayan soil to win the title and their free-flowing football attracted many.
But in the match against France, their stars came under pressure. The fluidity was sucked out by the French compactness.
The French goalkeeper, Alex Thepot played a big role in that French resistance. Thepot appeared in France’s first-ever World Cup match against Mexico in 1930, although he had to abandon the match during the first half due to an injury, being replaced in goal by Augustin Chantrel. He returned against Argentina and stars like Guillermo Stabile found it tough to get past him.
Thepot saved a penalty and kept Argentina guessing of what could be done next!
With 10 minutes remaining, Argentina were awarded a free-kick and the tough-nut Luis Monte broke the deadlock and Thepot to score the winner.
With just six minutes remaining and France searching for an equalizer, the Brazilian referee Gilberto de Almeida Rego blew the final whistle.
A furious French team was forced to return to the locker room. The Uruguayan spectators rushed into the field to protest against the game director who eventually recognized his mistake. It took the intervention of the mounted police to evacuate the invaded terrain and the players are recalled to the grass of Estadio Gran Parque Central to the cheers of the public to play the remaining 6 minutes while some are already in the shower.
But 6 minutes would not be enough for France to equalize.
The momentum was destroyed.
Argentina won but Thepot was hailed as a hero by the local spectators for his brave goalkeeping.
Almeida Rego will not be able to officiate again in the World Cup.