As in the semi-final against hosts Yugoslavia, West Germany came from two goals down to force extra time in this thrilling final. Dieter Müller and Bernd Hölzenbein, in the dying seconds, cancelled out first-half strikes from Ján Švehlík and Karol Dobiaš.
This time, though, Franz Beckenbauer and Co were unable to find a winner in the additional half-hour and for the first time a major international tournament final went to penalties. The first seven spot kicks found their target before Uli Hoeness fired over for the holders; Antonín Panenka applied the coup de grace.
The defending champions got off to a poor start when Berti Vogts gave the ball away close to his own penalty area after eight minutes. Koloman Gögh drew a fine save from Sepp Maier, but Zdeněk Nehoda was quick to cross from the right, and Švehlík arrived from deep to drive the ball in.
Despite the setback West Germany appeared to have found their poise only to concede again after Georg Schwarzenbeck fouled Gögh. Marián Masny's free-kick was only half cleared and Dobiaš's angled shot sneaked past Maier.
Within three minutes Helmut Schön's world and European champions were back in the game when Rainer Bonhof's cross found Müller, whose acrobatic volley nestled in the net. With Beckenbauer again making his long runs from deep, the world champions threatened to overrun their opponents, only to find Ivo Viktor in the form of his life.
The 34-year-old made a string of saves, pushing away Heinz Flohe's drive and a trademark Bonhof free-kick. But just when it seemed he had done enough Viktor's resistance was broken by Hölzenbein's header from a Bonhof corner. Extra time followed, and then a penalty shoot-out.
After Hoeness skied West Germany's fourth attempt it was up to Panenka to win the match for Czechoslovakia, and he did so in audacious fashion, achieving immortality by waiting for Maier to dive before chipping down the middle. "If it were patentable, I'd have it patented," he joked.