Interesting article in The Athletic about that England game and how our brave lads spent most of the game trying to kick lumps out of Maradona. Extract below.
From an English perspective, this match is inevitably cast as the devious Argentinian cheating England out of the World Cup (and then scoring, in all fairness to the lad, a well-taken second goal).
What often gets overlooked, however, is the sheer level of physical abuse dished out to Maradona during the game.
This starts after two minutes when Maradona, receiving the ball on the turn inside the centre circle, is bodychecked by Terry Fenwick right in front of the referee. Nothing too unusual about that — Argentina have the ball, play continues. It takes just 30 seconds before he’s fouled for a second time, by Reid, and this time he wins a free kick.
Maradona’s constant determination to dribble inevitably means he attracts fouls, but England take this opportunity rather too liberally. Eight minutes in, Maradona chests the ball down, dribbles inside Kenny Sansom and is chopped down with remarkable force by Fenwick — who is absolutely miles away from the ball, and goes in with a scissor-motion that ensures he brings down Maradona as aggressively as possible.
Having just returned from a suspension for collecting two bookings in the group stage, Fenwick has been booked yet again. For 82 minutes, he’s playing against the world’s best dribbler on a yellow card.
For those 82 minutes, the yellow card should have proved irrelevant. Not because Fenwick was composed enough to resist confrontations with Maradona, but because he could have been shown a straight red card at least twice afterwards.
The most blatant occasion comes five minutes before half-time. Maradona dribbles forward in an inside-left position and slips the ball out to right-sided centre-back Jose Luis Cuciuffo, who responds with a terrible shot that demonstrated why a defender should never wear the No 9 shirt.
Off the ball, though, Maradona had attempted to continue his run in behind Fenwick and been flattened with a blatant elbow. He received treatment from the Argentina physio for a couple of minutes afterwards, and after getting to his feet went up to Fenwick and told him what he thought of the challenge, pointing to him and gesturing with an elbow. Fenwick claimed it was accidental, Maradona shook his head — he wasn’t having any of it.
Can England complain when, two minutes later, Maradona goes up for an aerial challenge and leads with his arm? Was Maradona inspired by Fenwick’s challenge? Was he initially trying to match England’s aggression and using his elbow for brute force, and then ended up being in a position to handle it in?
On 67 minutes — after both Maradona goals — there’s yet another incident when Fenwick throws his elbow at Maradona. Valdano flicks on a long ball, Maradona and Fenwick are again chasing the second ball, and Fenwick again jumps and throws out an elbow into Maradona’s face. This brings a free kick, although Maradona can’t take it because he’s off the field receiving treatment again for a couple of minutes.