It was the first time a team from UEFA had won the World Cup final against a non-European team. Argentina were the defending champions, having beaten West Germany 3–2 in the 1986 FIFA World Cup Final in Mexico. Thus the 1990 final was the only 'repeat' final at consecutive World Cups. It was West Germany's last World Cup match; the team played three more games before a unified German team was formed.
The 1990 Final is often cited as one of the most cynical and ugliest World Cup Finals. It was an ill-tempered game, notable for the first two sendings off in a World Cup final. During the match, the Argentine players were whistled and booed everytime they had the ball (thanks to captain Diego Maradona's controversial comments in the media) and the officiating was controversial throughout the match. Mexican referee Edgardo Codesal refused to award a penalty kick to German player Klaus Augenthaler. Later, he incurred the wrath of the Argentinians by not awarding them a penalty kick after the German team captain Lothar Matthäus allegedly tackled Gabriel Calderón. Pedro Monzón had the distinction of being the first player in the 14 final games of the FIFA World Cup to be sent off, after being shown a straight red card for a hard leg tackle on Jürgen Klinsmann; FIFA had warned its officials to enforce the rules and Monzón had raised his foot during the tackle, a foul that Klinsmann claims left a 15-centimetre (5.9 in) gash on his shin.Gustavo Dezotti, already booked earlier, received his second yellow card late in the match when he hauled down Jürgen Kohler with what The New York Times described as a "neck tackle right out of professional wrestling", after Kohler refused to give-up the ball in an alleged attempt to waste time. After dismissing Dezotti, Codesal was surrounded and jostled by the rest of the Argentinian team. Maradona burst into tears at the final whistle and blamed the referee for the loss. Argentina entered the game with four players suspended and ended it with nine men on the field, overall losing over half their squad due to injury or bookings.
It was also the lowest-scoring final yet seen with Argentina becoming the first team not to score during a World Cup Final, having only 1 shot on goal, while Germany had 16 scoring chances out of 23 shots. Argentina's strategy had been to defend at all costs and reach the penalty shootout, having already advanced twice in the tournament by this means. The only goal of the contest arrived in the 85th minute when Codesal awarded a controversial penalty to West Germany, after Roberto Sensini fouled Rudi Völler, and Andreas Brehme (who took the place of regular penalty taker Matthäus) converted the spot kick with a low right footed shot to the goalkeeper's right.
This victory gave West Germany their third FIFA World Cup title, also making them the team to have played in the most FIFA World Cup finals at the time (three wins, three second places), as well as avenging their defeat at the hands of Argentina in the previous final. It also meant that Germany coach Franz Beckenbauer became the only man to have won both silver and gold medals at the World Cup as a player (1966 and 1974) and as a coach (1986 and 1990).
^The only other 'repeat' final was Brazil v Italy in nonconsecutive World Cups (1970 and 1994). As the unified German team is the official successor to West Germany, the 2014 Germany v Argentina final was technically the third final between those teams.