The Stroke of Genius from Chalana that brought down the Soviet Union

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On November 13, 1983, the Benfica star made an incredible run leaving the opponents behind and ended up being brought down inside the penalty box. With a penalty goal, Portugal qualified for the Euro 1984 and made history at the old Estádio da Luz.

It was 35 years ago. On the rainy 13th of November 1983, Chalana from Benfica, wearing Portugal’s jersey, had a stroke of individual brilliance that made the powerful Soviet Union tumble at the old Estádio da Luz. Chalana’s play was half the battle – and Jordão converted the penalty. And the country celebrated the first qualification for a European Championship.

In 1983, Fernando Chalana, also known as “Pequeno Genial (little genius)”, brought down the Soviet Union at Estádio da Luz with his pace, fantasy, and creativity.

It was November 13th. A rainy day in Lisbon. The last round from Group 2 of the Euro 1984 Qualifying Round, a competition in which Portugal never had taken part in before. The bad weather did not discourage the Portuguese fans. There were 75 thousand people in the stands of the old Benfica Stadium. Only a triumph would secure the qualification.

The sought-after goal happened at 44’, through Jordão, but the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union began two minutes before and not even the heavy pitch stopped the “Pequeno Genial”. In the midfield, Chalana received the ball, ran and left an opponent behind; cut inside, avoided a tackle from a second rival and always with the ball close to his left foot he ended up being brought down by a third opponent when he entered the penalty box. Penalty!

The French referee Georges Konrath immediately pointed towards the penalty mark. Portugal had a great opportunity to open the scoring and Rui Jordão – a forward who had represented Benfica in the1970s – did not waste that chance. Rinat was completely fooled and 1-0 on the scoreboard. Luz was once again a talisman!

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The supporters of an entire country supporting a National team was remembered by the former Benfica player.

“On that day, it rained a lot and even so, the people arrived early at the Stadium. I remember that the National Team was accommodated at Hotel Cidadela, in Cascais, and when we arrived at Luz there were already many fans in the stands”, remembered Chalana in an interview.

The solitary goal allowed Portugal to win Group 2 and 1984 European Championship, that took place in France. It was the National Team’s debut in the final stage of this competition, 18 years after 1966, the year in which the “Magriços”, led by Eusébio, spread magic in England at the World Cup.

In France, with the support of thousands of immigrants, Portugal was minutes away from reaching the final. With Spain, Germany, and Romania in Group 2, Portugal finished second and moved to the semi-final, where they locked horns with the host country. With another great performance from Chalana, Jordão scored a brace, but the two goals from Domergue and the strike from Platini postponed the Portuguese dream for 32 years.

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Starting XI: Bento (Benfica); João Pinto (FC Porto), Lima Pereira (FC Porto), Eurico (FC Porto) and Inácio (FC Porto); José Luís (Benfica), Carlos Manuel (Benfica), Jaime Pacheco (FC Porto) and Chalana (Benfica); Gomes (FC Porto) and Jordão (Sporting).

Also played: Diamantino (Benfica) and Shéu (Benfica).

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