The start of the final was mired in controversy, as the Dutch accused the Argentines of using stalling tactics to delay the match, causing tension to build in front of a hostile Buenos Aires crowd. The host team eventually came out five minutes late after the audience was whipped into a frenzy. The Argentines also questioned the legality of a plaster cast on René van de Kerkhof's wrist, despite him having worn it in earlier games without objections, causing the Dutch to threaten to walk off the pitch; the Italian referee, Sergio Gonella, upheld the complaints and forced Van de Kerkhof to apply extra bandage. In retaliation, the Netherlands team refused to attend the post-match ceremonies.
The match itself saw a number of fouls, and a hostile atmosphere. Ticker tape and confetti in the stadium worked its way onto the pitch. Mario Kempes scored the first goal of the match, slotting under Jan Jongbloed from 12 yards out. The Netherlands almost equalised when Rob Rensenbrink latched onto to a headed pass from René van de Kerkhof, but the shot was kept out by the boot of Ubaldo Fillol. The Dutch would eventually equalise when René van de Kerkhof's cross found substitute Dick Nanninga, who headed home the equaliser. The Dutch could have won the game in the final minutes, when Rensenbrink latched onto a long ball poking a shot past Fillol, but the shot bounced off the post, and the match went to extra time. Kempes would net the eventual winner in the 105th minute after running into the box, evading two Dutch sliding tackles as he did so. Kempes' shot was saved by Jongbloed and Kempes jumped to avoid him, but the ball bounced off of Jongbloed and hit Kempes twice, first in the knee, then in the foot, before bouncing off Jongbloed's head, all before Kempes had even landed. The ball bounced high in the air, and two Dutch defenders came rushing to clear the ball from the open goal. Although the goal was officially given to Kempes, the replay from behind the goal showed that the ball might have come off Wim Suurbier last.
Daniel Bertoni sealed the game in the second half of extra time after Kempes made a long run into the box, and was tackled by a Dutch defender. The ball ricocheted several times before landing at the feet of Bertoni, who had a clear sight of goal inside the box. Jongbloed was unsighted by the ricochet, and was thus out of position, allowing Bertoni to slot in easily.