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25 of the greatest moments in World Cup history



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Whatever happens in the 2018 World Cup, it’s going to deliver some memorable moments that we’ll no doubt look back on in years to come. To whet the appetite, here are 25 of the greatest moments in World Cup history – how many of them do you remember?

Diego Maradona’s sneaky handball, 1986

Maradona climbs higher than England goalkeeper Peter Shilton but punches the ball in with his hand to give Argentina a vital lead in the quarter-final.

Dennis Bergkamp’s winner v Argentina, 1998

Late in the quarter-final against Argentina, Frank de Boer pinged a long ball forward, Bergkamp pulled the ball out of the air with a sublime touch and then steered it into the net for a beautiful Netherlands winner.

Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick goal, 1966

With England 3-2 up in the final, Hurst races away on the break to slam in a glorious, match-winning fourth and seal his hat-trick. What’s the betting England can win it again? Unlikely, according to odds on the World Cup with williamhill.com, Unibet, Betway and all, but you never know…

Gazza bursts into tears, 1990

A rash late tackle in the semi-final against West Germany earns Paul Gascoigne a booking, meaning he’d miss the final. Gascoigne bursts into full-on snotty tears, and England later lose on penalties.

The Cruyff Turn, 1974

Dutch genius Johan Cruyff pulls off a stunning turn, flummoxing Sweden defender Jan Olsson with the cutest piece of skill ever seen – certainly the most famous, anyway.

Germany 7 Brazil 1 2014

Brazil’s lowest ever moment in World Cup history saw a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in the 2014 semi-final. Germany were five goals up within half an hour.

Schumacher clatters Battiston, 1982

Extra time in the semi-final between West Germany and France, and French sub Patrick Battiston runs through on goal. German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher races out to meet him, and simply clatters into him, late. Battiston was knocked cold, lost teeth, broke ribs and damaged his back. Schumacher wasn’t even booked.

Michael Owen’s solo goal, 1998

At 18 years old, Owen scores a stunning goal against Argentina in the second round, surging past defenders before crashing it into the net.

Zico’s goal disallowed, 1978

In the final seconds of the game against Sweden, a Brazil corner was headed in by Zico for what would have been the winner – only for referee Clive Thomas to blow the final whistle with the ball in mid-air.

Tardelli screams the stadium down, 1982

Italy’s Marco Tardelli scores his team’s second in the ‘82 final against West Germany and delivers one of the World Cup’s iconic celebrations, screaming in wild-eyed delight.

Zidane headbutts Materazzi, 2006

In the 2006 final, France midfielder Zinedine Zidane – who had earlier scored – inexplicably headbutted Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the chest, earning a straight red card.

Cameroon defeat holders Argentina, 1990

Opening matches don’t come more dramatic than this one in 1990, when Cameroon caused a sensation by beating reigning champions Argentina 1-0, despite two red cards.

Baggio skies his penalty, 1994

Roberto Baggio had done so much to drag Italy to the World Cup final but missed a crucial penalty in the shoot out, sending the ball as high as it’s humanly possible to do so. Heartbreaking.

South Korea see off Italy, 2002

The 2002 World Cup saw plenty of surprising results but none more surprising than South Korea beating Italy in the second round.

Lineker’s hat-trick, 1986

England had stuttered in the ‘86 finals until Gary Lineker scored a superb hat-trick in the final group match, against Poland.

Blanc’s Golden Goal, 1998

The first golden goal in World Cup history was scored in 1998 by Laurent Blanc, sending France through to the last eight at the expense of Paraguay.

The world meets Pele, 1958

Brazil win the 1958 World Cup, beating Sweden 5-2, with two goals coming from a 17-year-old called Pele…

Beckham’s red card, 1998

With the match between England and Argentina delicately poised, David Beckham is sent off for flicking a boot out at Diego Simeone after he’d been fouled.

Lampard’s ‘goal’ ruled out, 2010

Trailing Germany 2-1, Frank Lampard’s shot hits the crossbar, bounces down and away – but although it’s clearly over the line by some margin, no goal is given and England are denied an equaliser.

Northern Ireland stun Spain, 1982
One of the biggest upsets in finals history, Gerry Armstrong’s goal saw Northern Ireland beat Spain – the tournament hosts – 1-0.

De Jong’s ‘tackle’, 2010

Crazy scenes in the 2010 final, as Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong launches into a chest-high challenge on Spain’s Xabi Alonso. How he escaped with a booking is anyone’s guess.

Ronaldo wins the final, 2002

After the controversy surrounding his performance in the ‘98 final, Ronaldo wins the 2002 final for Brazil with two goals against Germany.

Gemmill’s glory, 1978

Scotland’s Archie Gemmill earns a place in World Cup folklore with a quite stunning solo goal as the Netherlands – later beaten finalists – are defeated 3-2.

Houghton beats Italy, 1994

In the searing USA heat, the Republic of Ireland shock Italy by beating them 1-0, thanks to Ray Houghton’s early goal.

USA stun England, 1950

Possible the biggest shock in World Cup history, the USA beat England 1-0 with the only goal coming from Joe Gartjens. Rumour has it many misread the scoreline and assumed it was 10-1, such was the feeling of disbelief.