The match marked several firsts in World Cup history. This was the first-ever rematch of a final and, to date, the only back-to-back rematch, as Argentina defeated West Germany in the previous final. Argentina became both the first team to fail to score in a World Cup final, and the first defending champion to reach the final and lose. West Germany's victory over Argentina marked the first time a UEFA side defeated a CONMEBOL side in a final (all previous finals between the two continents were won by South Americans.) West Germany became the first team to play in three consecutive finals (they played in the 1982 and 1986 finals), a feat only repeated by Brazil in 1994, 1998, and 2002. 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, 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 fouled 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 reckless studs up challenge 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 cautioned earlier, received a straight red 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 suspension.
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 one 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 penalty to West Germany, after Roberto Sensini fouled Rudi Völler which led to Argentinian protests. 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 person 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).
^ ab"A poor display bare of class". The Times. London. 9 July 1990.
^Glanville, Brian (2018). The Story of the World Cup. Faber and Faber. p. 326. ISBN978-0-571-32556-6. After half-time, the game grew harsher, when Klaus Augenthaler was blantanly tripped in the box by Goycoecha, Germany had far stronger claims for a penalty than that which won the match. Sensini bought down Völler in the area Codesal gave a penalty, Argentina protested furiously, and seemed to have a pretty good case.