An era-defining game tweeted 'live' - get yourself a drink, pull up a chair & enjoy, this is genius.
I did something on Sunday night I've always wanted to do, but somehow never found the time. I returned from a bar in San Telmo, where I'd been wishing a friend happy birthday, and switched the TV on find that Fox Sports were showing an old football match, something they often do in the small hours of the morning. It was about five minutes in, and it was a match you ought to have heard of if you have a passing interest in South American football: a qualifier for the 1994 World Cup, played on the 5th September 1993 in Buenos Aires.
I thought it'd be fun to tweet it, as if I was watching live. And I realised not far in, of course, that since it was roughly 2am in Buenos Aires, most of my followers on Twitter were likely to be either have been sleeping for an hour or two (those in the United States), or not yet have woken up (those in Europe). So, I reproduce here the results of my time-machine-with-Twitter experiment, with a little context thrown in as well.
Going into this match, Argentina had had a mixed qualifying campaign. They were in a four-team group with Colombia, Peru and Paraguay – Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia made up the other group, with Chile suspended by FIFA at the time due to goalkeeper Roberto Rojas' pretending to have been hit by a flare thrown by a Brazilian fan during the 1990 qualifiers. Argentina had won three, drawn one and lost one going into the game. The only loss was away to Colombia, by a score of 2-1 in the stifling tropical heat of Barranquilla. Colombia topped the group, with three wins and two draws. Paraguay were the other danger; they'd only won once, but had three draws, and with a win only worth two points, were a mere two points behind. If Argentina lost, and Paraguay won by enough to make up the goal difference (Argentina had +2 going in, Paraguay -1), they'd take second place in the group, and Argentina – who'd been in three of the last four World Cup finals, winning two – would be eliminated.
In the Estadio Monumental, though, everything would be redressed. The quality of the Colombian side wasn't in doubt, but Argentina were undefeated at home in World Cup qualifiers. Diego Maradona came across as an incredibly arrogant loudmouth (no, really) when he said in the days before the match that historically, 'it's always Argentina above, and Colombia below,' but history at least backed him up.
Maradona, of course, wasn't playing, having not been called up for a competitive game since returning to football after his 15-month drug ban which started in 1991. He was watching in the stadium, and was clearly as confident as the rest of Argentina's fans that the side would get revenge for that defeat the month before.
I'd never seen the whole match until tonight. In a way, I still haven't, since I missed the first five or so minutes (although I have seen those separately before). But what follows is my tweeting during it. I tried to stay away from being too falsely prophetic, and just tweet the game as I saw it. I've corrected a couple of mis-spellings, but otherwise this is what I was tweeting whilst watching. The times into the game, apart from the goals, are all guesses – for some reason Fox Sports decided not to bother showing the match clock on the screen apart from at irregular intervals.
Oh, this is a treat. Fox Sports are showing Argentina 0 - 5 Colombia from 1993. I've never seen this game, and only missed 7 minutes...
15 minutes in, and so far Argentina are having the better of it. Valderrama and Rincón look lively on the counter for Colombia though...
Things a bit disjointed in the midfield just then. A Colombian - I think Leonel Álvarez - was down hurt & it eventually went for a throw.
Oh this is dangerous. Argentina have a free kick on the edge of the box, after Rincón clattered Simeone. Oscar Córdoba sets his wall.
Batistuta whacks it, but the ball goes some distance wide, and was still rising when it passed the goal.
Colombia just won a corner with their first real threat of the match. A shot from Adolfo Valencia which Goycochea pushed wide of the post.
Oh WHAT A CHANCE Batistuta just missed! Great combo play with Julio Saldaña, only for Batigol's 1st touch to take it just wide!
Still Argentina 0 - 0 Colombia, roughly 20 minutes in here at the Estadio Monumental on the 5th September 1993.
To provide a little context here: Argentina are currently 2nd, and need a win to qualify for the World Cup & avoid a playoff v Australia.
With a draw or win, Colombia would finish top of the group. The latter is fanciful; Argentina have NEVER lost a World Cup qualifier at home.
Colombia have beaten Argentina in Buenos Aires before though: a 2-1 win in the 1987 Copa América. It's their only ever win against Argentina
That 2-1 win for Colombia was also the last match - competitive or friendly - that Argentina lost at home. They're 6 years unbeaten at home.
30 minutes gone now, and it's still 0-0. Even leaving history aside, Argentina are looking more likely to score here.
Valderrama has been booked for a foul on Diego Simeone in midfield there.
Now, this is a bit confusing: Diego Simeone's on the teamsheet as Argentina's number 19, but he's wearing number 10 on his shorts.
I haven't yet caught a decent view of the back of his shirt though.
Maradona - who's not played competitively for ARG since Italia 90 due to drug ban - said before game it's always 'ARG above, Colombia below'
Six minutes left until half time. Argentina still in control, Colombia with relatively few chances. Redondo and Simeone owning the midfield.
GOL DE COLOMBIA! Bloody hell! Didn't see that coming!
A quick ball through the backline, Rincón very smartly sidestepped Goycochea, and Colombia lead, with 4 mins to half time!
Argentina dominant so far, but Colombia have the lead. Classic smash-and-grab. 0-1, 41 mins.
OUCH. Long ball up and Batistuta collides heavily with Colombia goalie Córdoba. Both hurt, but both are now up and moving again.
Television tells me I'm spelling Córdoba's name wrong incidentally; they've got it as 'Córdova' ('v' and 'b' virtually identical in Spanish)
But Wikipedia - and my own knowledge, for that matter - tell me I'm right, so I'm sticking with it.
Peru have taken the lead against Paraguay in Lima. If Argentina lose here, they want that match to finish as a Peru win, or a draw.
A loss for Argentina and a win for Paraguay would put Paraguay into the playoffs, and Argentina out altogether.
Half time in the Estadio Monumental, and it's Argentina 0 - 1 Colombia. Argentina have been well on top, but Rincón's goal is what matters.
The second half's underway. No changes from Argentina. They shouldn't need any; in spite of being behind they were well on top 1st half.
Valderrama and Pérez working it through the middle, and El Pibe is brought down for a free kick to Colombia around 25 yards out
Captain Oscar Ruggeri who brought Valderrama down. Currently plays for Club América in Mexico & is one of few to play for both Boca & River.
Leo Rodríguez gets to the byline and wins a corner for Argentina. First chance of the 2nd half for the equaliser...
Ruggeri misses it, as does Saldaña. The latter eventually gets a shot in, but it's easily saved.
Rincón sends one over for Asprilla, who turns his man inside out... GOL DE COLOMBIA! Bloody hell! They've had about 3 shots, & scored twice!
49 minutes gone, and it's Argentina 0 - 2 Colombia. Pressure's really on Alfio Basile's boys now! The Argentine crowd are getting annoyed.
Redondo's working well down the left, but Argentina generally don't seem to have much penetration. Dominance isn't showing in the scoreline.
Ah, Basile's read my mind! A striker, Claudio García of Racing, is coming on. Replaces midfielder Leo Rodríguez.
Asprilla charges down the left wing, and gets a corner for Colombia. Roughly 53 mins played I think (there's no clock on the telly!).
Think it must be said that aside from Valderrama's excellent hair, Gabriel Gómez, his partner in Colombia's midfield, has a great moustache.
Batistuta gets onto a long ball from Redondo - a beautiful pass - and thunders in a shot which Córdoba pushes round the post.
OOOOOOOOO! Then another crashing drive from Bati, after the resultant corner, again pushed out by Córdoba.
The match is opening out more now. Which bizarrely means Colombia are coming into it, play-wise. I don't think they wanted to sit back...
...as such, but they were probably happy to early on, since the onus was so much on Argentina to come and beat them. With quality of...
...Valderrama's passing & Asprilla & Rincón's pace, they could set up to counter effectively. Now, though, they're starting to venture out.
If Argentina don't get a goal back pretty sharpish, & get desperate... well, Colombia might score one or two more here, the way it's going.
Bello with a good shot from the corner of the box for Argentina, AGAIN denied by Córdoba. Colombian goalie is doing a great job.
Peru still beating Paraguay in Lima. That result looks key for Argentina if this stays like it is. Peru have nothing to play for though...
Gustavo Zapata getting it off (I think) Rincón just there, but Batistuta had to drop so deep to get it that Argentina have no out.
Bad luck there - García looked like he'd been held to me, but the free kick went Colombia's way in the midfield.
Oh good save from Córdoba, though he wouldn't have stood a chance had Ruggeri got more on the shot.
Still, Ruggeri going up for throw ins shows Argentina are getting very tetchy now. They have to get back into this, quickly.
Goal for Paraguay in Peru! 1-1 there now. Still okay for Argentina, though - they're fine as long as Paraguay don't win, remember.
Simeone - who definitely IS in the number 10 shirt, not the 19, I can now see - appealed for hand ball in the box there but not given.
Redondo off! He's not been bad at all! Alberto Acosta is sent on. So Argentina now have 4 strikers on the pitch, w just over 20 mins to go.
Acosta just had a great chance, about ten seconds after getting on the pitch! Córdoba smothers it though, and goes down again.
Valderrama to Asprilla, who's taking off down the left.
WOW that was almost a great goal. Goyco punshes it away.
GOL DE COLOMBIA! Following Goycochea's punch, the ball got pinged back into the box and Rincón hit it. It went in off Ruggeri, I think.
72 minutes gone and it's Argentina 0 - 3 Colombia now. Argentina are going to lose that proud home record in World Cup qualifiers.
And, in a reminder that it's 2011, Fox Sports have cut to an ad break. Brilliant.
So, Argentina 0 - 3 Colombia, with about 18 minutes to go plus stoppages. 2 goals from Rincón and one from Faustino Asprilla.
OOOOOOOOOH! GOLAZO DE COLOMBIA! What a finish from Asprilla! From 3-0 to 4-0 in 2 minutes! A brilliant lob from out wide!
I missed the buildup there as the cameras were focussed elsewhere, but the finish alone was sublime.
Argentina's fans are now getting very vocally annoyed. Their players look completely shell-shocked.
Peru have retaken the lead in Lima, meaning Argentina are going to a playoff against Australia if both matches finish as they currently are.
Ooh. Goal for Paraguay. That game is back to 2-2 then. A late winner for Paraguay would put Argentina out of the 1994 World Cup altogether!
Colombia are taking the piss now. Stroking it around and Argentina are chasing shadows, until Zapata wipes out Rincón on the right touchline
Lots of whistling from the home crowd. Think the TV producers have turned the volume down on the crowd, but some dissent is getting through.
GOL DE COLOMBIA! 6 minutes to go and Valencia puts it in the net with a delicate touch after sprinting onto a through pass from Asprilla!
5 minutes to go now, and it's Argentina (who've never lost a World Cup qualifier at home, remember) 0 - 5 Colombia. FIVE.
Long ball up from a free kick by Córdoba and Asprilla chases it, but Argentina have it back and play it out. I wouldn't be too surprised...
...if Asprilla got a hat trick. Only about 4 mins left but he looks dangerous every time he gets forward, so if Colombia want a sixth...
Haha... Argentina string a few passes together (before seeing the ball unceremoniously thumped out) & the crowd cheer them. 'Olé! Olé! Olé!'
The ref doesn't even bother with stoppage time. What a result. Argentina 0 - 5 Colombia. We knew it wouldn't be easy pre-game, but 0-5?!
That's going to go down as a before-and-after moment, in BOTH countries' footballing histories. Colombia's side are really something.
In Colombia, they're being talked about as potential WC winners, but if they don't get the trophy at least they've got that to look back on.
The good news, Argentina fans, is that Peru v Paraguay finished 2-2, so you're not out: you're into a double-header with Australia.
Diego Maradona's in the stadium, applauding Colombia along with a lot of Argentine fans. Wonder if he'll make a return for those games?
We know what happened next, of course. Maradona did indeed return, and helped his side through the playoff 2-1 on aggregate (aided, we found out earlier this year from the man himself, by some 'speedy coffee' they were given before the first match in Oz). Colombia got Pelé's tip to be the team to beat in the USA, and were eliminated, with Andrés Escobar – who had been a notable absentee against Argentina here – murdered days later. Argentina have lost only one other home World Cup qualifier (in 2009, in Rosario Central's stadium against Brazil, under Maradona's management), and haven't lost an official match at the Estadio Monumental since that day.
It really was before-and-after, though. Two months before, in Guayaquil in Ecuador, Argentina had beaten Mexico 2-1 to claim the 1993 Copa América. It remains the last major trophy Argentina won. Having been in three of the previous four World Cup finals (winning two), they came perilously close to not going to the USA at all, and haven't got past the quarters since.
Colombia have slumped, and look potentially like a force to be reckoned with again now, although they didn't manage to live up to expectations at the Copa América this July. 'The 5-0', as it's known by both Argentines and Colombians, remains the greatest result in the side's history, and one suspects it would take an actual trophy win to knock it off that spot (if at all). Colombian students coming to study in Buenos Aires (there are plenty) all tell me, thinking I won't be aware of it, 'you know, you should write about this match at the Monumental in 1993. Argentina had never lost a game there, and we beat them 5-0. God we had an amazing team!'
None of those students, I'd be prepared to venture, were old enough to have actually seen that game live. But now, at least I'll be able to reply to the next one who suggests it, 'well, I have done.'
Read more from Sam at the magnificent Hasta El Gol Siempre, hear him on the world's only English language podcast on Argentinean football, the Hand Of Pod, follow him on twitter @HEGS_com, or just click on his name at the top of this article for more wonderful reading.
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