England were involved in a classic World Cup encounter on this day.
Less than a month before England kicked-off their 1954 World Cup campaign in Basle, Switzerland, they had been torn apart 7-1 by Hungary in their final pre-tournament friendly.
It had been a demoralising result for the Three Lions but one that seemed to spur them on as they went out to face Belgium in their opening Pool Four match in the World Cup finals on this day.
This was England’s second World Cup and they were keen to improve on their debut showing, four years previously, where they had failed to progress past the group stage. But with a team including Three Lions legends Billy Wright, Stanley Matthews, Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney, they did not get off to the best start as Belgium grabbed an early lead.
Unfazed, however, England quickly took the ascendency and were on level terms by the 25th minute after Ivor Broadis capitalised on good work from Wright and Tommy Taylor. Seven minutes later they were in front from Lofthouse’s diving header and Broadis grabbed his second before half-time to give Walter Winterbottom’s men a comfortable cushion.
The second half, however, saw England take their foot off the pedal and allow Belgium back into the game, and during a quick-fire five-minutes Houf and Coppens had clawed back goals to level the tie.
The format in ’54 meant extra-time was called for when the final whistle went at 3-3 and more drama was to come. Lofthouse bagged his brace to restore England’s lead but an own goal from Jimmy Dickenson two minutes later saw Belgium again come from behind and ultimately draw a game they should have lost.
The 4-4 result remains the joint highest scoring draw in World Cup history – along with the clash between the Soviet Union and Columbia in 1962 – and four remains the most goals England have ever scored in one World Cup game.
Winterbottom’s men went on to beat Switzerland 2-0 to reach the quarter-finals, where they were beaten 4-2 by Uruguay.