Jose Luis Brown opened the scoring for Argentina in the 23rd minute and it stayed at 1–0 until half-time. After the break, Jorge Valdano doubled Argentina's lead 10 minutes into the second half. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge pulled a goal back in the 74th minute for West Germany, his first goal in the tournament. West Germany then equalised in the 80th minute; future Germany manager Rudi Völler scoring to seemingly salvage the game. Although Diego Maradona was heavily marked the entire game, a superb pass to Jorge Burruchaga in the 84th minute allowed Argentina to regain the lead at 3–2, this was how it remained and Argentina were able to celebrate their second World Cup victory in three tournaments (after winning the 1978 World Cup). 6 yellow cards were issued in this match, which was a record number until the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.
With this defeat, the German manager, Franz Beckenbauer gained the rather unwanted distinction of having lost a World Cup final as both a player and a manager. (Beckenbauer had played in West Germany's defeat in 1966.)
Four years after Argentina's victory over West Germany, both teams met again on the final of the subsequent World Cup, with West Germany winning the match 1–0 via a penalty kick. This marked the first time two World Cup finalists met twice, a record shared with Brazil and Italy, the latter two having met in the 1970 and 1994 World Cup finals.
The two teams met again in the 2014 final for a record breaking third time in which Germany won the honors as 4th time champion.