Last night, there was no fairytale. France beat Croatia to win the World Cup for the second time.

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And as much as France deserved the trophy, the world couldn't help but feel for Croatia.

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The second smallest country to ever appear in a World Cup, a country that didn't exist before 1990, lead by a captain who was once a refugee in his own nation, this had all the tellings of a dream finish.

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No wonder most of the world was rooting for them.

But as disheartening as the end was (for the neutrals, anyway), their story has got nothing on the Hungarians' tale of woe.

Between 1950 and 1956, Hungary was defeated only once. A defeat that just so happened to be in the 1954 World Cup final.

Source: Wikipedia

Before we start, let's just make one thing clear. The Hungarians were hardly underdogs.

Back in the 1950s, the Hungarians were easily the best international team around, if not one of the best ever.

Led by striker Ferenc Puskas, the Hungarians boasted of the kind of talent the rest of the world could only dream of, coupled with a tactical foresight that would later be associated with Ajax in the 70s.

Source: The Courier

Their record between 1950 and 1956 still makes for astounding reading.

In the 50 games they played, the 'Mighty Magyars' recorded 42 wins and 7 draws. 

And yes. That 1 defeat.

In the lead up to the 1954 World Cup, the Hungarians won everything in sight. 

They won the gold at the Olympics as well as winning the Central European International Cup, the precursor to the Euros.

They were the first international team to beat England in England, and trashed them in the rematch in Budapest for good measure.

Source: BBC

The tournament itself did nothing to dispell their aura of invincibility. A 9-0 thrashing of World Cup debutants South Korea and an 8-3 destruction of a then unfancied West German side set the tone early on.

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The quarter-final, a heated game against Brazil, ended 4-2 to the Hungarians.

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In the semi-final, Hungary met defending champion, Uruguay, who had never lost a World Cup match.

The proverbial unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. 

Forced into extra time, Hungary found the energy to win the match 4-2.

Source: Europe Between East and West

A place in the final beckoned. Against West Germany. A team they had beaten 8-3 just a few days ago. A team that largely consisted of amateurs.

To say Hungary were favourites would be an understatement. It seemed like it would take a miracle to stop them winning the tournament.

And what a miracle it was.

Within 6 minutes, Puskas had scored for Hungary. By the 8th minute, Hungary were already 2-0 up and it seemed like the writing was on the wall for the Germans.

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But the Germans weren't about to give in so easily. The Hungarian lead lasted only 2 minutes before West Germany pulled one back. 8 minutes later, they were level through Helmut Rahn.

The Hungarians attacked with wave after wave. But a mixture of poor Hungarian finishing, dogged defending and some old fashioned luck ensured the scores stayed level till the 84th minute.

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With 6 minutes to go, Helmut Rahn took advantage of the confusion a long ball into the Hungarian defense caused. Faking a shot with his right and turning away from the Hungarian defender, Rahn shot with his left.

3-2 to West Germany with only minutes left to play!

Source: DFB

Hungary rallied and even scored, only to have Puskas' goal ruled out for offside. The final whistle ended the match and with it, possibly the greatest international run of all time.

The 'Miracle of Bern' was born.

The Hungarians continued their phenomenal run for 2 years more. In their next 19 games, they won 16 and drew 3. But they never reached the same pinnacle again.

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 hastened the break up of the team. Hungary tasted success in the Olympics two more times, but their reputation was never the same.

The Mighty Magyars were no more.

As for unfancied West Germany? The four World Cups speak for themselves, don't they?

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Last night there was no fairytale ending.

But on July 4, 1954, and unfortunately for Hungary, there was one.