Think back to Argentina’s World Cup triumph in 1986 and Diego Maradona’s iconic brace against England or Jorge Burruchaga’s decisive goal to beat West Germany in the final spring to mind. Few would recall the contribution of Ricardo Gareca given that Carlos Bilardo didn’t even select the striker for his squad in México and yet almost exactly a year before Maradona lifted the World Cup trophy, it was Gareca’s late goal against Peru that earned La Albiceleste a place at the tournament.
On Thursday evening in Lima, Gareca will be in the home side’s dugout hoping to orchestrate an upset over his home nation but in 1985 the then 27-year-old broke Peruvian hearts in the Estadio Monumental.
Argentina needed at least a point from their final World Cup qualifying match at home to Peru having lost a week earlier in Lima. Los Incas arrived in Buenos Aires knowing that a win would take top spot and send them to México in place of their hosts.
Pedro Pasculli made that appear doubtful when he put Argentina in front after 12 minutes but two first half goals from José Velásquez and Gerónimo Barbadillo stunned the Monumental.
Time was running out for Bilardo’s side but with nine minutes remaining Daniel Passarella struck the inside of the post with a volley and Bauza followed it in to poke the ball over the goal line.
The 2-2 draw sent Argentina to México as group winners and left Peru in a playoff with Colombia, Chile and Paraguay – ultimately won by Los Guaraníes.
Gareca missed out on a place in Bilardo’s final squad a year later but later admitted, “When the qualifying round for 1986 finished the truth was that I wasn’t at a very good level and lost my place under Bilardo.”
El Tigre has enjoyed a successful management career primarily with Vélez Sarsfield but 31 years on from that goal, Gareca will be plotting Argentina’s downfall.
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