12– On 26 June 1954, an encounter between neighbouring countries provided a spectacle that would go down in the history of the FIFA World Cup™ for several reasons. After 90 minutes of the ‘Hitzeschlacht von Lausanne’ (‘The Heated Battle of Lausanne’) between hosts Switzerland and Austria, the score was 7-5. The 12 goals scored that day make this the highest-scoring match in World Cup history and ensure that it still has a special place in the collective memory of both countries.
With temperatures reaching almost 40 degrees, the teams delivered an enthralling first-half performance in front of around 35,000 spectators at the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise in Lausanne. Die Eidgenossen raced into a 3-0 lead after just 19 minutes before Austria turned things around to lead 5-3 just 16 minutes later. The Austrians were winning 5-4 by half-time and doubled their advantage shortly after the restart as Theodor Wagner completed his hat-trick in the 53rd minute. Sepp Huegi responded by scoring his third goal just five minutes later to give the Swiss hope, before Erich Probst finally put the game beyond the hosts’ reach with quarter of an hour to go.
While Austria eventually lost to West Germany in the semi-finals and finished the tournament in third place, reaching the last four remains their finest achievement in the competition. For their part, the Swiss have failed to progress further in a World Cup than the quarter-final they reached that year.