West German hearts may have skipped a beat when the Netherlands fought back late on, but nothing could take away from the fact Jupp Derwall's side had produced one of their best performances in years.
Both teams had secured slender 1-0 victories in their respective tournament openers, but the West Germany side than lined up in Naples on this occasion was a very different proposition. Derwall had brought into the fold young firebrand Bernd Schuster, who changed the face of the competition with his speed and aggressive running from midfield. He played a part in all three goals before the late Dutch comeback.
He started by leaning back to control a poor pass from Bernard Dietz, turned away from a defender and hit a post with a scorching shot, the underrated Klaus Allofs putting in the rebound. Then he sent Hansi Müller clear on the right and he held the ball up before laying it off for Allofs. Finally Schuster forced his way to the byline and turned the ball back neatly for Allofs to complete his hat-trick.
The Dutch showed a glimmer of life when the 19-year-old Lothar Matthäus, who had come on to win the first of his world record number of caps, fouled Bennie Wijnstekers just outside the penalty area; the disappointing Johnny Rep put away the penalty. René van de Kerkhof's long-range drive was perhaps the best goal of the game, but it was not enough to knock West Germany off their course. At last, clear tournament favourites.
"We had the advantage of having a very good mix in the team," said Schuster later. "A mix of experienced top players like myself, Lothar Matthäus. We played really well together, we knew each other, and that was the advantage we had for many years. What we had was an excellent nucleus to the team."