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On This Date in Sports July 30, 1966: Heat of a Lion

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England captures the World Cup as the host country, beating West Germany 4-2 in extra time in the final at London’s Wembley Stadium. Geoff Hurst leads the way for Three Lions, becoming the first striker with a hat trick in the championship game, scoring twice in extra time to helped England win its first World Cup. A record 32.3 million watched the final in England on television.

England played host to the World Cup for the first time in 1966, coached by Alf Ramsey. The English team was nicknamed the wingless wonders for their unconventional 4-4-2 attack methods. In group play, England began its journey playing Uruguay to a scoreless draw. They would win their next two games by beating Mexico and France by identical 2-0 scores.

Meanwhile, West Germany began its World Cup with a 5-0 blowout of Switzerland. In their second game, West Germany, coached by Helmut Schon, played Argentina to a scoreless tie before wrapping up group play with a 2-1 win over Spain.

Brazil, who won the World Cup with star attach Pele in 1958 and 1962, came in seeking an unprecedented third straight title, began their World Cup with a 2-0 win over Bulgaria. However, they would drop their next two games to Hungary and Portugal by identical 3-1 scores to miss out on advancing to the knockout round.

England had a tough test right away in the quarterfinals as they battled Argentina at Wembley Stadium. The game was scoreless until the 78th minute when Geoff Hurst found the back of the net and lifted Three Lions to the semifinals for the first time. England had benefited from a controversial call that led to the ejection of Antonio Rattin. Meanwhile, in Liverpool, Portugal outlasted North Korea 5-3 in a high-scoring game. West Germany began their path to the final by blanking Uruguay 4-0 in Sheffield, while the Soviet Union edged Hungary 2-1 in Sunderland.

In the semifinals, West Germany survived an intense battle against the Soviet Union at Liverpool, winning 2-1 with Franz Beckenbauer scoring what proved to be the game-winner in the 67th minute. England, meanwhile, continued to rule the day at Wembley Stadium, beat Portugal 2-1 on a pair of goals by Bobby Charlton. Portugal would beat the Soviets 2-1 in the third-place game as all of England stopped to watch their country take on Germany for the Jules Rimet Trophy.

West Germany scored first as Helmut Haller netted a got in the 12th minute. It would not take England long to respond as Geoff Hurst evened matters in the 18th minute. The game remained deadlocked 1-1 until the 78th minute when Martin Peters gave Three Lions its first lead. With England looking to close out the championship in regulation, Germany scored late to tie the game 2-2 as Wolfgang Weber scored in the 89th minute. Despite Germany scoring a stunning game-tying goal, England quickly recovered and was in control of the attack in extra time. The English attack paid off in the 101st minute when Geoff Hurst scored his second goal of the game to make it 3-2. England remained in control as time began to run out on Germany holding the ball in the final seconds; England made no doubt of the victory as Hurst completed the hat trick in the 120th minute to finish off a 4-2 win that touched off celebrations throughout England, as Queen Elizabeth II presented the team with Jules Rimet Trophy.