FIFA 2018 World Cup: Top 10 goals of the tournament
FIFA 2018 World Cup: Top 10 goals of the tournament
After 31 days of nerve-jangling action of the World Cup, it’s time to draw the curtains on yet another footballing extravaganza. The 2018 edition witnessed 164 goals scored across 64 games by as many as 113 players. But now in the aftermath of an enthralling competition, let’s look back at the 10 best goals scored from among the bunch:
#10 Cristiano Ronaldo vs Spain
As aforementioned, Nacho’s incredible volley turned the tide against Portugal as the European champions were on the backseat and headed to a defeat. With just three minutes left on the clock, Ronaldo won a free-kick just outside the area after being fouled by Gerard Pique. But cometh the hour, cometh Cristiano: the Portuguese skipper stood up to the take it himself, and what followed next left the world absolutely awe-inspired.
Ronaldo readied himself against the Spanish wall tugging at his shorts, let out a gush of air, pracned forward a few steps after the whistle was blown and delicately curled it over and into the back of the net beyond the despairing dive of De Gea. At the 45th time of asking, the talismanic No.7 finally dispatched a free-kick in a major international, but more importantly, won his side a crucial point, almost single-handedly.
He unfortunately wasn’t able to build on this sensational start to the World Cup, but Ronaldo made an early impression in the tournament with the treble, frosting the cake with this sublime kick.
#9 Kylian Mbappe vs Croatia
The best young player of the tournament was at it again for France in the finals, scoring a beauty to extend the lead to 4-1. That was his fourth goal in the tournament, but also arguably the best.
Lucas Hernandez played Mbappe from the left. The PSG starlet had nobody around him. So he calmly collected the pass, turned around and struck it with absolute venom for the ball to sail into the net after a bounce. Subasic was left stunned in his tracks, as the 19-year old joined Pele as only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final.
But given the performances he had turned in throughout the tournament, we knew that was coming. Yet, it didn’t fail to amuse us!
#8 Lionel Messi vs Nigeria
In what was largely touted to be Messi’s last World Cup if not the last international tournament, Argentina never truly impressed and were eliminated in the round of 16 by an effervescent France. And the Barcelona star did his best, but once again, wasn’t helped enough by his teammates.
He bowed out with just a single strike in the competition, but that one strike was enough to make it’s way in this list. In the final, must-win group game against Nigeria, Ever Banega lofted a cross to Messi, who brought the ball down with his left thigh, expertly played it onto to weaker right foot, and then slammed it home into the far post for the opener.
It may not be the most eye-catching goals you’ll see, but it definitely was a technically brilliant goal. A perfect Lionel Messi goal there is.
#7 Son Heung-min vs Mexico
In a tournament of underdogs, South Korea managed to script a memorable tale of their own when they beat Germany in the final group game to condemn the defending champions to the bottom of the group. The two goals scored on the day weren’t spectacular, but rather amusing. But the best among the three goals scored came in the second game against Mexico.
Having drawn a blank in the opening day loss to Sweden, the Taeguk Warriors were headed for another shutout, trailing El Tri 2-0 with just over 5 minutes remaining on the clock. But Son took the initiative upon himself and unleashed an outrageous inswinger into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
The Tottenham star has long impressed us with his heroics for the London outfit, and this amazeball was another one for his bulging collection.
#6 Edinson Cavani vs Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup dream ended just hours after that of Messi, and pretty much like his great rival, was undone by the brilliance of one player in particular. Edinson Cavani struck twice to down Portugal 2-1, and whilst both goals were of the highest order, the second one was truly amazing.
Rodrigo Bentacur found the PSG star unmarked on the right and laid a cross. He once again stole in from behind and skilfully struck an immaculate swing into the bottom corner. The first touch and the technique that went into this one was thoroughly sublime.
#5 Jesse Lingard vs Panama
England struggled to produce anything noteworthy from the open play although their set-piece ability was the best in the tournament – 9 of the 12 goals by Gareth Southgate’s side came from set-pieces (corners, free-kicks and penalties). Of the remaining three, Lingard’s astutely struck curler against Panama stands out. Perhaps, it was the best England goal of this World Cup.
Following a neat one-two with Raheem Sterling just outside the box, Lingard jolted up a few steps and found gap between the Panama defense that he brilliantly exploited by sending a peach of a shot into the top corner to triple his side’s advantage.
The Manchester United star was given the freedom to express himself in the game, and played a starring role in the Central American outfit’s demolition. This goal was England’s first from open play in the tournament at the time, and also the best of the bunch scored that evening.
#4 Denis Cheryshev vs Saudi Arabia
Russia got the ball rolling for the World Cup in the most spectacular fashion possible as Saudi Arabia were dealt a 5-0 shellacking by the hosts. Four different players were on the scoresheet and there were some quality goals to lit up the curtain raiser. But Cheryshev’s trivela stands out from the bunch.
Russia were already leading 3-0 by the hour mark with the Villarreal star already bagging a strike in the first stanza. But he certainly wasn’t satisfied, and came back for the second bite of the cherry. Collecting a ball just outside the area on the left, Cheryshev produced a stunning burst of acceleration to run into the box, before unleashing a meticulous chanfle from the outside of his left foot that calmly sailed into the far post, giving Saudi custodian Al Maiouf no chance.
Cheryshev has had a fledgling career with a failed stint with Real Madrid sticking out of his resume like a sore thumb. But he witnessed a renaissance following a great World Cup campaign with Russia that saw him net thrice overall. But this strike in particular, had all the look and feel of a star reborn.
#3 Nacho vs Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo may have hogged all the limelight in Portugal’s pulsating 3-3 draw to Spain in the Group B opener with an incredible hattrick, but the match was replete with many more eye-catching moments. A primary example is the pile driver by Nacho.
With La Roja levelling the terms to two goals apiece just 10 minutes after the restart, the Real Madrid fullback turned the tables around just minutes after Costa’s equaliser. A melee inside the Portuguese area resulted in the ball supposedly bouncing out of harm’s way, but Nacho, completely unmarked at the edge of the area, sensed an opportunity and latched on to the loose ball to let rip a fearsome low drive into the bottom corner.
Nacho isn’t really a goalscorer, in fact, it’s his first international strike. But what a way to open his account for Spain!
#2 Granit Xhaka vs Serbia
Xhaka’s time at Arsenal has been a mixed bag. But he was one of the stars of Switzerland’s World Cup campaign. He even bagged a goal, but that one strike was enough to turn heads.
Xhaka made headline last season for his thunderbolt against Liverpool in the 3-3 draw, and he chose the perfect time and platform to replicate the same. In the second group game against Serbia, the Swiss were trailing 1-0 coming into the second-half. Shaqiri’s initial effort came off a Serbian defender as the ball floated its way out of the area, but Xhaka came raging at it from the left and whipped a ferocious drive into the bottom corner for a stupendous equaliser.
A goal of supreme quality. And one that the Gooners particularly would be proud of.
#1 Benjamin Pavard vs Argentina
The last 16 game between France and Argentina was one of the best in the competition for various reasons. Goals galore, Mbappe’s heroics, Messi’s yet another World Cup disappointment et al, but Pavard’s long range effort was right up there among the very best.
Having fallen behind to an early penalty from Antoine Griezmann, Argentina stole ahead in the second-half through Di Maria’s own spectacular strike. But Les Blues were quickly back on level through the unlikeliest of the sources. Lucas Hernandez sent in a cross from the left that had no takers initially, but as it sailed towards the edge on the right, Pavard, storming out of nowhere, lashed it into the far post from almost 25 yards out with his favoured right foot.
An unknown quantity coming into the World Cup, Pavard turned heads with this fleeting moment of magic. Impeccable judgement, great first-touch and injecting just enough venom, it was a goal straight out of the top drawer.
A strong contender for the goal of the tournament award.