The difference between 1) and 2) - both "a" and "b" - relates to imperfect and perfect past tenses, but is also about which match is seen as most significant.
Number 2) refers to what happened at the moment the place was secured. It's referring to a specific event at the end of the semi-final (Boyd's commentator might argue that it was the moment of his goal, but it's a funny old game when they think it's all over).
Number 1) also covers what happened when and after the place had been secured. The team now has a place in the Final, an ongoing condition, and with it they can proceed to the championship match. That's the important one.
Alternatively, a dedicated fan might assume that the team were always going to reach the Final, and would use 1) to indicate that they'd been entitled to a place all along. Again, though, this relates to an ongoing condition (having a place in the Final) rather than the specific event (gaining a place in the final) that Boyd's goal secured.