Marco Tardelli, 1982, Italy vs Germany
This powerful left-footed shot saw Tardelli blast home a goal for Italy from the edge of the box. But while his venomous strike was no doubt impressive, his celebration was even more memorable as he charged down the field screaming to celebrate with his teammates.
With this goal, Tardelli sealed a 3-1 win over Germany and with it, the 1982 FIFA World Cup trophy for the Azzuri.
Siphiwe Tshabalala, 2010, South Africa vs Mexico
As the host nation, South Africa was eager to impress as they faced Mexico in the tournament’s opening game. Early in the second half, “Bafana Bafana” launched a blistering counter-attack against the Mexicans, with Simphiwe Tshabalala firing his shot into the top right corner as the stadium erupted.
This goal handed South Africa the draw in what was a competitive 1-1 encounter that set the stage for the thrills that were yet to come.
Ronaldo, 2002, Brazil vs Germany
Before the World Cup final, many wondered whether Brazil’s star striker would make a full recovery from injury. Soon enough, they would get their answer. After scoring in the 67th minute to hand Brazil the lead, Ronaldo would score again, this time one of the goals of the tournament.
After Rivaldo’s dummy tricked the German defense, Ronaldo curled the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal to hand Brazil the World Cup trophy.
Cristiano Ronaldo, 2018, Portugal vs Spain
Stuck in the “group of death” alongside Spain, Portugal was hungry to grab a win over their Iberian rivals in the hopes of securing a place in the knockouts. With his team trailing 3-2, Portugal talisman Ronaldo decided to step up when his side was awarded a crucial free kick.
Ronaldo bolted his free kick into the top corner of the goal, thereby grabbing a hat trick and earning his team a vital draw.
Benjamin Pavard, 2018, France vs Argentina
With France trailing Argentina by 2-1, the French were in desperate need of a goal in order to keep their World Cup hopes alive. After France launched a rapid counter-attacking move down the left wing, right-back Benjamin Pavard began a sprint down the opposite wing into open space.
The ball swung over to Pavard, who struck it with a perfectly-timed volley to lift France to a vital win and ultimately, put them on track to World Cup glory.
Diego Maradona, 1986, Argentina vs England
Dubbed the “goal of the century”, this strike proves exactly why Diego Maradona was a footballing legend. After receiving the ball in his own half, Maradona sprinted the length of the field, dribbling through the England defense and around the keeper to score an unforgettable solo goal.
Not only will this goal be remembered for Maradona’s raw talent, but also for securing a spot in the semifinals for the eventual champions.
Carlos Alberto, 1970, Brazil vs Italy
After scooping the ball off Italy, Brazil went on the offensive, applying pressure to the Azzuri backline. After an array of intricate passes, the ball fell to Pele, who played a through ball on the right to Carlos Alberto who was sprinting down the wing.
Carlos Alberto’s one-time strike blazed past the Italian defence and into the bottom corner of the far post, thereby capping off a 4-1 World Cup final victory for the Brazilians.
James Rodriguez, 2014, Columbia vs Uruguay
By scoring what would be named the goal of the tournament, Rodriguez would forever seal his name in World Cup history. With his back to goal, Rodriguez controlled a lobbed pass with his chest before turning and firing home a blazing goal from distance.
This goal secured a lucrative 2-0 victory for Columbia over Uruguay as well as earning them a coveted spot in the quarter-finals. Rodriguez’s performance also ultimately earned him a massive transfer from Monaco to Real Madrid that summer.
Michael Owen, 1998, Argentina vs England
Although Argentina would go on to win this game on penalties following a 2-2 draw, this goal would launch Michael Owen’s career. In addition to being the youngest World Cup player (at the time) at 18 years and 190 days old, Owen would also become the youngest-ever scorer.
Owen received a pass from David Beckham, after which he dribbled past two Argentinian defenders and outpaced the keeper to score from a tight right angle.
Robin van Persie, 2014, Spain vs Netherlands
Having lost the 2010 final to Spain, the Netherlands were hungry for revenge during their group stage game against the reigning champions in 2014. Left-back Daley Blind was just past the halfway line when he spotted van Persie making a dash behind the Spanish defence.
As the ball sailed towards him, van Persie expertly flicked it with his head over Iker Casillas and into the Spanish net, sending Spain home in a crushing 5-1 defeat.
Dennis Bergkamp, 1998, Netherlands vs Argentina
After a goalless 90 minutes, Netherlands’ quarter-final clash with Argentina went into extra time. With both teams scoring in quick succession, Dutch star striker Dennis Bergkamp took it upon himself to restore his team’s lead once he was on the receiving end of a Frank de Boer cross.
While a lightning-paced cross, Bergkamp expertly controlled the ball with his first touch, cutting past a defender and curving his shot past the keeper to secure a semi-final berth.
Archie Gemmil, 1978, Scotland vs Netherlands
After a rough start to the tournament, underdogs Scotland needed to beat the Netherlands by three goals in order to progress from their group. Unbelievably, the Scots scored two goals, at which point Gemmil produced a piece of magic, cutting past two defenders to secure a third goal.
Although the Netherlands scored two goals to knock Scotland out of the competition, Gemmil is remembered for his moment of dribbling and shooting brilliance.
Gérson, 1970, Brazil vs Italy
With the World Cup final level at 1-1, Brazil was eagerly seeking the lead when Gérson provided them with exactly what they were looking for. As Brazil launched an attack, the Italian defenders all bunched up in the center to block sight of the goal.
Almost counterintuitively, the Brazilian moved the ball into the center, where Gérson collected it, weaved passed the Italians and scored from distance. This boosted Brazil to a 4-2 final victory.
Sir Geoff Hurst, 1966, England vs West Germany
Having already scored to give England a 3-2 lead in the World Cup final, Hurst knew that a one-goal cushion may not be enough to hold back their tough opposition. As Alan Ball blazed down the wing, he spotted Hurst in the center of the box, proving him the ball.
While it fell behind Hurst, the striker was quick enough to stop it, pull it back and hammer the ball into the net, providing England with a comfortable 4-2 victory.
Maxi Rodriguez, 2006, Argentina vs Mexico
Following a 1-1 draw in normal time, Argentina started applying pressure to the Mexican defence in search of an extra time winner. In what seemed like a split second decision, Juan Pablo Sorín send the ball soaring across the field to the edge of Mexico’s penalty box, where Maxi Rodriguez lay in wait.
After taking a touch to his chest, Rodriguez volleyed the ball with a left-footed strike, scoring the winner that sent Argentina through to the quarterfinals.
Jorge Burruchaga, 1986, Argentina vs West Germany
Germany had just equalized in the 82nd minute to bring the score to 2-2. With extra time looming, Argentina furiously tried to belt the ball into the German half, however the German defence remained stubborn. After pinballing from player to player, the ball finally fell to Diego Maradona.
After a quick one-two with a teammate, Maradona fired the ball past two German defenders to Jorge Burruchaga, who zipped past the defense to score Argentina’s World Cup-winning goal.
Emmanuel Petit, 1998, Brazil v France
Many would have expected this clash between Brazil and France to be a close one. Surprisingly, the hosts dominated Brazil, with Zinedine Zidane scoring twice to secure a comfortable half-time lead. While the second half seemed subdued, it took one moment of magic to reignite the game.
Emmanuel Petit bursting forward during a France counter-attack, catapulting himself past the entire Brazilian defence to tap home a goal that sent the home fans into hysterics.
Helmut Rahn, 1954, West Germany vs Hungary
Trailing 2-0 to the Hungarians, West Germany sprung into action, scoring two goals in quick succession to draw level just 18 minutes into the World Cup Final. Although the excitement subsided for much of the remainder of the game, West Germany remained committed to completing their comeback.
Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Helmut Rahn cut inside and fired his shot into the bottom left corner, handing Germany their comeback and the World Cup.
Esteban Cambiasso, 2006, Argentina vs Serbia and Montenegro
One of the greatest team goals in World Cup history, this goal saw the Argentinian team make 24 passes without interruption before Esteban Cambiasso slotted home in the 31st minute to hand the match favorites their second goal of the game.
Argentina continued this masterclass performance, winning the match 6-0 and sealing their place in the Round of 16 as Group C winners.
Zinedine Zidane, 2006, Italy vs France
For Zinedine Zidane, the 2006 World Cup final would be the last game of his career. Once France was awarded a penalty, all eyes were on Zidane to see if he would score potentially the last-ever goal of his career.
Using his silky finesse, Zidane chipped the ball over Gianluigi Buffon to hand France the lead. Although Italy would win the World Cup, at least Zidane got his farewell goal.
Lionel Messi, 2014, Argentina vs Bosnia and Herzegovina
As group favorites, Argentina was determined to get their tournament off to a strong start in their opening game against Bosnia and Herzegovina. While the South Americans grabbed the lead through an early own goal, Lionel Messi showed exactly why he is a soccer legend as he doubled Argentina’s lead.
Messi laid the ball off to Gonzalo Higuain before Higuain backheeled the ball back to Messi, who swiveled around the Bosnia defense and scored from the edge of the box.
Diego Forlan, 2010, Uruguay vs Germany
Voted the goal of the tournament, Diego Forlan scored Uruguay’s second goal during the third-place playoff against Germany. Although Uruguay lost the game 3-2, this match was an exciting end to what was a highly respectable World Cup journey for Uruguay.
As the ball swung in from the right flank, Forlan connected perfectly with it, blasting home a venomous half-volley that the keeper had no chance of saving.
Juan Quintero, 2018, Columbia vs Japan
Although Columbia went on to lose the match, the eventual Group H winners would enjoy a moment in the spotlight as they were awarded a free kick just before half-time. Up stepped attacking midfielder Juan Quintero to deliver a masterclass free kick.
Despite the tight angle, Quintero, ingeniously snuck the ball under the wall and into the bottom corner, with the goalkeeper reacting a fraction too late to stop it.
Saeed Al Owairan, 1994, Belgium vs Saudi Arabia
With both teams positioned to qualify for the knockouts, both Belgium and Saudi Arabia were bent on emerging as group winners. Despite being underdogs, it was Saudi Arabia who emerged victorious, with Saeed Al Owairan scoring the only goal of the game.
Starting deep within his own half, Al Owairan ran the length of the field, dribbling past five Belgian players and beating the keeper to score a top-drawer solo goal.
David Platt, 1990, England vs Belgium
Following a goalless 90 minutes of football, this round of 16 clash went into extra time. With just one minute left on the clock, the game seemed destined to go to penalties when England won a free kick. Thus, a moment of magic arrived.
Paul Gascoigne lined up to take the free kick, belting it into the box where David Platt swiveled himself and volleyed the ball into the net, taking England into the quarter-finals.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst, 2010, Uruguay vs Netherlands
Following a hard-fought quarter-final victory over Brazil, Netherlands were determined to get the upper hand against tournament dark horses Uruguay. With the ball at his feet on the left flank, Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst noticed a gap in the Uruguayan defence. From distance, van Bronckhorst belted in a long-range stunner.
This goal proved decisive as the Netherlands edged Uruguay 3-2 to book their spot in the 2010 World Cup final.
Josimar, 1986, Northern Ireland vs Brazil
Despite being clear favorites, Brazil struggled to break down the well-roganized Northern Irish defence during the early stages of the game. That all changed in the 15th minute, when Josimar took a few steps forward before letting rip a screamer into the Northern Irish net.
In addition to being visually stunning, Josimar’s strike opened the game up for the Brazilians as they marched on to a 3-0 win.
Bobby Charlton, 1966, England vs Mexico
Following a goalless draw with Uruguay, England was desperate to get on the scoresheet as they came up against Mexico. In the 37th minute, Bobby Charlton English fans much relief, hitting a long-range shot that soared across the face of the goal and into the top corner of the net.
This goal helped England to a 2-0 win and boosted them to the top spot in the group, ultimately helping them to jumpstart their title-winning World Cup run.
Arie Haan, 1978, Argentina vs Netherlands
Looking to reach their second consecutive World Cup final, the Dutch were desperate to get an edge over a fierce Italian lineup. With the game deadlocked at 1-1, Netherlands continued to fight until, in the 82nd minute, they got their winner.
After the Netherlands won a free kick from 40 yards out, the ball was passed to Arie Haan, who blasted in a screamer that the stadium erupt with applause.
Dragan Stojkovic, 1990, Spain vs Yugoslavia
Throughout this round of 16 clash, both teams’ defences seemed impenetrable. That was until the 78th minute, when Dragan Stojkovic was on the receiving end of a teammate’s header. Despite being under pressure, Stojkovic kept his composure, taking a touch before firing the ball into the back of the net.
Although Spain equalized, Stojkovic scored again in extra time to restore his team’s lead. this time, Yugoslavia would hold onto their lead to book their place in the quarterfinals.
Careca, 1986, Brazil vs France
Having pounded Poland 4-0 in the round of 16, Brazil was set to face a daunting French side who had just silenced Italy 2-0. Not long after the first whistle, however, Brazil was in the driving seat, with Careca slotting the ball into the French net following a lightning-paced counter-attack.
Unfortunately, this was not enough for Brazil, as France went on to equalize and book a place in the semi-finals with a penalty shootout win.
Eder, 1982, Brazil vs Soviet Union
After going 1-0 down to the Soviet Union in their opening game, Brazil’s World Cup seemed to be off to a disastrous start. While a late goal from Socrates appeared to save them from embarrassment, it was Eder who ultimately completed Brazil’s comeback and saved their reputation.
With the ball on the left, Socrates ran down the middle of the field into space. Upon receiving the ball, he flicked the ball up and delivered an unstoppable volley.
Gianluca Zombrotta, 2006, Italy vs Ukraine
Following a narrow 1-0 victory over Australia in the Round of 16, Italy was determined to reassert their dominance against surprise package Ukraine. After just six minutes they did just that, as Zambrotta pounced on a soft pass and ran a few yards before firing home a long-range left-footed strike.
This stunning goal put Italy on track to a 3-0 win, and ultimately, advanced them in their journey to World Cup glory.
Joe Cole, 2006, Sweden vs England
Having won their first two group games, England appeared to be in the driving seat when they came up against a high-flying Swedish side. As the Swedish scrambled to clear the ball from their box following an England attack, the ball fell to Joe Cole, who expertly controlled it with his chest before lobbing a soaring volley into the far corner.
Although the game ended in a 2-2 draw, Cole’s goal was enough to secure a point for the Three Lions, and as a result, a first-place finish in the group.
David Villa, 2014, Australia vs Spain
Following a disastrous start to the tournament, reigning champions Spain were all but eliminated when they came face-to-face with Australia in their final group game. While they previously lacked firepower up front, Spain’s attack was reawakened against Australia, as David Villa scored with a slick backheel.
Although Spain were eliminated from the group, their 3-0 win over Australia at least allowed them to save face in what was otherwise a tournament to forget.
Mesut Ozil, 2010, Ghana vs Germany
Having won their first group game against Australia, Germany’s subsequent loss to Serbia meant that they had everything to play for against then-group leaders Ghana. On the hour mark, Germany finally broke the deadlock as Mesut Ozil flicked the ball up and fired a low-flying volley into the Ghanaian net.
Ozil’s strike not only won the game for Germany but also secured them the top spot in the group as they embarked on a run all the way to the semi-finals.
Sunday Ogochukwu Oliseh, 1998, Spain vs Nigeria
Few expected the Eagles to put up much of a fight against Spain in this opening group stage game. Still, with World Cup dreams of their own, Nigeria showed no fear as came from behind twice to draw level at 2-2. Then, a Spanish clearance fell to Oliseh’s feet.
With a well-timed strike, Oliseh scored a stunning long-distance winner for the Eagles, securing qualification for the knockouts while Spain went home earlier than expected.
Tim Cahill, 2014, Australia vs Netherlands
Considering that the Netherlands were clear favorites in this group stage clash, seeing the Dutch take an early lead was far from surprising. What was truly unexpected was for Australia to equalize a minute later, with a long-range cross making it to Tim Cahill, who fired home with a one-time volley.
While the Australians eventually lost 3-2, this goal and their performance at least gave them a sense of pride as they exited the competition.
Luka Modric, 2018, Argentina vs Croatia
Although a highly-talented squad, few expected Croatia to defeat group favorites Argentina, let alone demolish them. After going 1-0 up, Croatia knew that a one-goal lead may not be sufficient to keep Argentina at bay. That’s when captain Luka Modric pulled off a magical moment.
While far out from the goal, Modric dodged around an incoming Argentinian defender to hammer in a long-range strike, thus playing his part in Croatia’s defiant 3-0 victory.
Ronaldinho, 2002, England vs Brazil
Following a commanding 2-0 win over Belgium, Brazil was set to face fellow high-flyers England in their quarterfinal clash. Coming off a commanding 3-0 win over Denmark, England continued their fine form, scoring the first goal of the game with Brazil equalizing before half-time. That’s when Ronaldinho stepped in.
After Brazil was awarded a long-range free kick, Ronaldinho was expected to pass to a teammate. Instead, he scored a breathtaking goal distance to secure Brazil’s place in the semifinals.
Luis Suarez, 2010, Uruguay vs South Korea
After blazing through their group, Uruguay looked to continue their fine form against South Korea in the round of 16. While Uruguay scored early on, the South Koreans equalized in the second half and seemed likely to take the game to extra time. It was in the 80th minute that Luis Suarez proved his star status.
Suarez was on the edge of the box when he dribbled a defender, cut inside the box and curled the ball around the goalkeeper to send Uruguay to the quarterfinals.
Ricardo Quaresma, 2018, Iran vs Portugal
Following a tense 3-3 draw with Spain, Portugal knew that they needed to get something from their game against Iran in order to secure progression from the group stage. While Iran’s defense proved stalwart, they weren’t enough to stop Quaresma, who fired in an outswinging shot to open the scoring.
Although Iran equalized, this goal was enough to earn Portugal a vital point and a spot in the round of 16, however, that’s as far as they went, losing the next match to Uruguay.
Denis Cheryshev, 2018, Russia vs Croatia
Despite Croatia being the clear favorites, the Russians weren’t about to give up their dream of lifting a World Cup trophy in their home tournament. With this determination in mind, Cheryshev skipped past the Croatian defense and hammered a left-footed strike over the keeper’s head to put Russia in front.
While Croatia went on to win the quarter-final on penalties, Cheryshev’s strike is remembered as one of the greatest of the tournament.
Carlos Tevez, 2010, Argentina vs Mexico
After dominating their group, Argentina found themselves up against a resolute Mexican side. While Mexico had proven to be a tough nut to crack during the tournament’s early stages, Carlos Teves quickly proved that Argentina was the superior side, even if almost by accident.
While his initial pass was blocked, Tevez recollected the ball and scored a screamer to secure a 3-1 win for Argentina and progression to the quarter-finals.