By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer
Editor’s note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we’ll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with Yordan Letchkov’s silencer in 1994.
With 16 minutes remaining in their 1994 quarterfinal match against Bulgaria, defending champ West Germany looked well on their way to the semis for the fourth straight World Cup.
Die Mannschaft led 1-0 on Lothar Matthaus’s penalty right after halftime. All they had to do on a scorching New Jersey afternoon was hold on.
Even after Hristo Stoichkov equalized with a quarter-hour to go, you had to like the Germans’ chances. This was a three-time tournament winner, after all, up against a European also-ran that hadn’t qualified for the 1990 event.
Nobody expected Bulgaria to reach the last eight, let alone the final four. Had Bulgaria’s stay at USA ‘94 ended there, it would still have been their best-ever finish.
It didn’t end there.
Yordan Letchkov’s header stuns Germany
Bulgaria upset Germany 2-1 to advance to the 1994 World Cup semifinals.
Stoichkov’s goal stunned the favorites. Sensing the swing in momentum, Bulgaria pressed for the lead rather than play for extra time and, eventually, penalties.
They had to wait only three minutes before Yordan Letchkov’s diving header past Bodo Illgner put them up 2-1. The goal stood up, and Germany failed to reach the title game for the first time since 1978.
One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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