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Football, Men

Date24 November – 8 December 1956
StatusOlympic
LocationMelbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria / Olympic Park Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Participants143 from 11 countries
FormatSingle-elimination tournament.

For the first time in history, a qualifying campaign was organized to bring down the number of competing teams to 16. Eventually five (Hungary, Egypt, South Vietnam, China and Turkey) of the qualified teams withdrew, leaving only eleven teams to play in Melbourne. The original draw had a first round of eight matches, but only three of those took place - Soviet Union vs. Germany, Great Britain vs. Thailand, and Australia vs. Japan. The scheduled first round match of Yugoslavia vs. United States was moved into the second round, or quarter-finals. The other first round matches scheduled were as follows: Bulgaria vs. Egypt, Hungary vs. India, Indonesia vs. South Vietnam, and China vs. Turkey. With China and Turkey not competing, that match was voided, while Bulgaria, India, and Indonesia were advanced into the quarter-final round.

Of the competing teams, the Soviet Union was heavily favoured to take the gold. They lived up to those expectations, although they did not play as well as expected, and needed a fair amount of luck. A combined German team narrowly lost 1-2 to the Soviets, who then progressed to a goalless draw against unheralded Indonesia. The Asians were dismissed 4-0 in the replay, and Bulgaria was their next opponent. After a goal-less 90 minutes, Bulgaria took the lead in extra time. The Bulgarians leaned back to finish the match easily, but the Soviets had a terrific comeback and decided the match in their favour with minutes to spare.

The Soviet’s opponent in final was Yugoslavia, which had lost the deciding match at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. They had beaten surprise semi-finalist India, whose players were unaccustomed to wearing boots during the game. Yugoslavia once more had to settle for silver in Melbourne. They were unlucky not to get a penalty kick early in the game and a seemingly legal goal was cancelled for offside. The Soviet team’s star was their keeper, Lev Yashin. He is generally considered to be the best ever goalkeeper, and led the Soviets to the inaugural European title in 1960. He played his entire career for Dynamo Moskva, winning five domestic championships.

PosNrTeamNOCWTLPts
1Soviet UnionURS41099–2Gold
2YugoslaviaYUG201413–3Silver
3BulgariaBUL201410–3Bronze
4IndiaIND10225–9
=5IndonesiaINA01110–4
=5Great BritainGBR101210–6
=5AustraliaAUS10124–4
=5United StatesUSA00101–9
=9Unified Team of GermanyGER00101–2
=9ThailandTHA00100–9
=9JapanJPN00100–21

Round One (24 – 27 November 1956)

Single-elimination

Match #1 24 Nov 14:30URS 2 – 1GER
Match #2 INA bye
Match #3 26 Nov 14:30GBR 9 – 0THA
Match #4 BUL bye
Match #5 27 Nov 16:30AUS 2 – 0JPN
Match #6 IND bye
Match #7 USA bye
Match #8 YUG bye

Quarter-Finals (28 November – 1 December 1956)

Single-elimination.

Match #1 28 Nov 16:30YUG 9 – 1USA
Match #2 29 Nov 16:30INA 0 – 0URS
Match #3 30 Nov 16:30BUL 6 – 1GBR
Match #4 01 Dec 14:30IND 4 – 2AUS
Replay #1 01 Dec 16:30URS 4 – 0INA

Semi-Finals (4 – 5 December 1956)

Single-elimination.

Match #1 04 Dec 16:30YUG 4 – 1IND
Match #2 05 Dec 16:30URS 2 – 1
AET
BUL

Final Round (7 – 8 December 1956)

Medal round.

Match 1/2 08 Dec 14:15URS 1 – 0YUG
Match 3/4 07 Dec 16:30BUL 3 – 0IND

Rankings

Goals
Shots
Shots on Goal
Fouls Committed
Yellow Cards
Red Cards