He had no way of knowing it, but 3 hours and 34 minutes before Ulf Kirsten ran into the penalty box with the ball at his feet, the entire politburo of the Socialist Unity Party had stepped down. He also didn't know that while he looked up to find his striking partner, Thorsten Gutschow, the German Democratic Republic (GDR)'s ambassador in Czechoslovakia (CSSR), Helmut Ziebart, was summoned by that country's foreign minister, Pavel Sadovsky.
Kirsten spotted his teammate and crossed the ball. Gutschow had his back to the goal and was closely marked by defender Dirk Schuster. He just about managed to control the ball with his right foot, then he somehow wrapped himself around his marker, swivelled and shot.
There wasn't much power behind this strike from 9 yards, but for the tiniest fraction of a second goalkeeper Dirk Heyne hesitated, not sure whether to block the shot with his foot or go down. When he decided to go down, it was too late. Dynamo Dresden were 1-0 up against league leaders 1. FC Magdeburg.
Some 20 minutes later, while Matthias Sammer was carrying the ball through midfield in his inimitable style, in equal measures powerful and elegant, Helmut Ziebart was sitting on a chair in Prague and feeling uncomfortable. The Czechoslovakian government was annoyed that more and more East German citizens were allowed to decamp into the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) via the Czech border. Without putting too fine a touch on it, Sadovsky explained that his own people were beginning to wonder why they couldn't do the same. It was a very unfortunate situation.
Suddenly Sammer accelerated. He briefly glanced at Magdeburg's goal, then he struck from almost 30 yards. Goalkeeper Heyne desperately lunged to his right, but the shot was a beauty. Dresden had doubled their lead.
Then Magdeburg defender Dirk Schuster was sent off and the match between the title contenders seemed to be over as a contest.
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