Awesome: The World Cup


  • For a football player, scoring the winning goal in the final. This can take several forms:
    • Eight men's finals and two women's finals have been decided by a single goal scored to break a deadlock.
    • Two finals in both the men's and women's competitions have been decided by a penalty shootout.
      • For the men, the "winning" penalties were scored by Dunga in 1994 for Brazil against Italy (Roberto Baggio then missed the penalty that would have brought Italy level), and by Fabio Grosso in 2006 for Italy against France (David Trezeguet had already missed a penalty for France, so Grosso's spot kick put Italy ahead 5-3 with only one French penalty left).
      • The women's finals in 1999 and 2011, both involving the USA, also went to penalties. In the first, Brandi Chastain scored a true "winning" penalty against China, giving the USWNT a 5–4 lead after both sides had taken their full allotment of kicks. (Of course, that event is more famous for that picture of her taking off her shirt right after the kick.) Then, in 2011, the "winning" penalty was struck by Japan's Saki Kumagai (giving them a 3–1 lead with only one kick left; the first three USA players had failed to find the net).
    • Two men's finals have been decided by more than one goal, but all of the goals after the last deadlock were scored by the same player: Geoff Hurst for England against West Germany in 1966 (the final finished 2-2 after 90 minutes; Hurst scored twice in extra timenote  to make the final score 4-2) and Ronaldo for Brazil against Germany in 2002 (the final finished 2-0, with Ronaldo scoring both).
  • Several goals: Pelé's against Sweden in 1958 (the one where he flicked the ball over the defender and fired past the keeper), Carlos Alberto's against Italy in 1970 (product of a prime example of teamwork), Maradona's second against England in 1986, Gheorghe Hagi's against Colombia in 1994, Michael Owen's against Argentina in 1998, Dennis Bergkamp's against Argentina in 1998, etc. Colombian fans remember four goals in particular for tremendously different reasons: Marcos Coll's first and only ever Olympic Goal (from a corner kick) in a World Cup against USSR in 1962; Freddy Rincon's awesome equalizer against powerhouse Germany from the 1990 tournament (a sad subversion); Andrés Escobar's own-goal against the USA in 1994, and (a bittersweet subversion) Leider Preciado's goal against Tunisia in 1998, which turned out to be the last goal ever scored by a Colombian team in the World Cup until Colombia's return in 2014.

    open/close all folders 

    Sweden 1958 
  • Pelé scoring a hat-trick against France in the semi-finals in less than 25 minutes. He remains the youngest player to score an hat-trick in the WC (he was 17 years and 244 days).

     England 1966 

     Mexico 1970 
  • Gordon Banks' legendary save against Pelé in 1970.
  • Perhaps the most beautiful almost-goal in the history of the World Cup (maybe even the sport itself), courtesy of Pelé in the semifinal against Uruguay. Behold.
  • The title goal scored by Carlos Alberto Torres. A very lenghty change of passes between all of the Brazilian players culminating in a defensive player finishing with the goal. A really amazing sight to see.
  • The Game of the Century: the other semifinal, hotly contested between Italy and West Germany. Italy was winning 1-0 until the last moments of stoppage time, when the Germans levelled the score. Then the goals started raining in extra time, with Germany taking the lead before Italy pulled back and won 4-3, breaking the deadlock twice (from 2-2 and 3-3). To compound the awesome, Franz Beckenbauer played the latter part of the match with his arm in a sling after dislocating it after West Germany had already made the maximum two substitutions.

     Spain 1982 
  • For Italian fans, the three goals scored by Paolo Rossi against Brazil.
  • For Polish fans, the three goals scored by Zbigniew Boniek against Belgium. The Poles additionally ended up third overall, like in the memorable 1974 World Cup in West Germany.

     Mexico 1986 
  • Diego Maradona's second goal against England in 1986, which was named Goal of the Century by FIFA. He ran all alone through the English side of the field leaving behind six players (including goalkeeper Peter Shilton) all by himself before scoring.
  • Butragueńo's hat-trick (plus one goal through a penalty) in Spain's 5-1 victory against Denmark. Keep in mind that Denmark was debuting in the WC and that they had topped their group (which included West Germany, who would become finalists) with three victories (including their Moment of Awesome with an amazing 6-1 victory against Uruguay), being led by the efforts of Elkjćr Larsen and a then-young Michael Laudrup.
  • The Round of 16 game between Belgium and the USSR. Belgium scores. Igor Belonov equalizes. Belgium scores. Igor Belonov equalizes. Game goes into extra time. Belgium scores. Igor Belonov equalizes. Sadly, Belgium scores a fourth time, and Belonov didn't have enough time to go for a fourth. At the end of the game, you could see Belonov on the ground, sobbing.

     Italy 1990 
  • Then-Yugoslavian (more exactly, Croatian) goalkeeper Tomislav Ivković saving a penalty kick from Maradona in 1990.
  • The performance of Argentina's second goalie Sergio Goycochea — specially in regards to catching penalty kicks, which saved the team against Yugoslavia (quarterfinals) and Italy (semifinals). Even more awesome was the fact that we has originally Carlos Bilardo's second choice keeper in the tournament, graduating to first keeper after Nery Pumpido was sidelined with injury.
  • Salvatore "Totň" Schilacci as the "surprise" star of this Cup, making his way to the Golden Boot ahead of guys like Lothar Matthäus, Gary Lineker and Diego Maradona themselves.

     USA 1994 
  • The infamous 5-0 of Colombia vs. Argentina in 1994's qualifiers. Colombia won against the then two-times champion on their own territory. Also keep in mind that Argentina had an impecable record of 0 defeats for six years until said match. It is something worth seeing.
  • Saed Al-Owairan's goal against Belgium, often quoted as one of the most legendary World Cup goals ever. See it here!

     France 1998 
  • Brazilian goalkeeper Taffarel saved two penalties in the semifinals against the Netherlands to guarantee the defending champions returned to the final.

    Korea/Japan 2002 
  • The fastest goal in the history of World Cups, scored by Turkish player Hakan Şükür, which took only 11 seconds. Turkey won the 3rd place match against co-hosts South Korea by 3-2.
  • Brazil were not considered favorites. They got to a record fifth title with seven wins in seven games. Double awesomeness was given to striker Ronaldo, who just two years after a traumatic knee injury, was the top scorer with 8 goals, including both in the final.
  • Even if it went unrewarded in the end, Oliver Kahn's run in the world championship defines greatness. Do not let his mistake in the final fool you, he is not without reason the first (and so far only) goalkeeper to win the Golden Ball: without him, Germany would have never been in the final match to begin with. If ever there was a soccer player that won games (and almost an entire tournament) by himself, Oliver Kahn is that player.

     Germany 2006 
  • Jens Lehmann in the quarter-finals penalty shoot-out between Germany and Argentina. He managed to hold two penalties from Argentina, while Germany scored all of them, winning 4:2. It gets more awesome when people noticed him reading from a small piece of paper between penalties. Turns out he wrote down the shooting habits of the Argentinian players and it paid off.
  • Australia scoring their first World Cup goals in the final ten minutes to defeat Japan 3-1.

     South Africa 2010 
  • With her victory, Spain became the first European nation to win a World Cup out of Europe.
  • Despite only finishing 3rd, Germany had an awesome run in this World Cup in the knock-out stage. First they managed to beat England 4-1 and then they steamrollered Argentina with 4-0. If not for the bad luck of encountering Spain next, they could have made it to the finale. They returned to awesomeness by defeating Uruguay 3-2 for place three, scoring far more goals in the knock-out stage, than normal.

    Brazil 2014 
  • The Netherlands in their opening match against Spain. They were struggling most of the first half, but everything changed when Robin van Persie scored with a phenomenal header, equalizing the game. The Netherlands then steamrolled over the Spanish opposition in the second half, defeating the reigning world champpions with 5-1.
  • Clint Dempsey scoring a goal in 32 seconds in their 2014 match against Ghana.
    • The epic comeback and late game goal that netted the US their win against Ghana.
  • Australian centre back Alex Wilkinson's save in their 2014 match against Chile.
  • Francisco Guillermo "Memo" Ochoa, playing in his first World Cup, found himself as goalkeeper against host nation Brazil. Despite the Brazilian offence, Ochoa saved every single shot on goal in spectacular fashion, and was named Man Of The Match.
  • Was anyone expecting Australia to put up as much as a fight as they did in their 2014 match against the Netherlands, narrowing losing 3-2? There's also Cahill's incredible goal, scored with his weak foot.
  • Costa Rica qualifying to the next round from a group that included Uruguay, Italy, and England, all three former champions. Prior to the World Cup, players of Costa Rica acknowledged their team's relative lack of quality, but said they would play their own game and try to give their country a performance to be proud of, regardless of the outcome. Suffice to say, they kept their word: they got to the quarter finals and only the Dutch could stop them.
  • Even if Chile ended up losing to Brazil in the 2014 WC, they put up such a fight that led them to force Brazil to define their match through penalties. In the same day, Colombia managed to best the two-time champion Uruguay and reach for the quarterfinals — after 16 years of absence!
    Random Tumblr user, after the Brazil vs Chile game: "Right there was the most fucking intense three hours of my LIFE!"
  • On the subject of Colombia, the breakout star of the tournament was James Rodriguez (first name pronounced HAM-es), who scored in all five of Colombia's games and twice against Uruguay.
  • While the US lost to Belgium 2-1 in the Round of 16, the game will forever be immortalised by US soccer fans due to the performance of goalkeeper Tim Howard, who, during the course of the match, made 16 saves, the most of any goalkeeper within the last half-century of the tournament since they started tracking save records (though that's not to say that Courtois didn't do an admirable job as well).note  And that one goal they scored? Courtesy of 19-year-old Julian Green, who scored on the first time he touched the ball in any World Cup game.
  • Almost nobody noticed, but with their victory against France, Germany became the first country ever to reach semifinals 4 times in a row (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014).
  • The quarter-final between the Netherlands and Costa Rica wasn't the most exciting game for a long time. Until the 119th minute, when Dutch coach Louis van Gaal replaced his regular goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with substitute Tim Krul, in a move almost never seen before. Imagine the pressure on Tim Krul's shoulders, as he, as the supposed specialist, had to stop the Costa Rican penalties. What did he do? He chose the right corner all five times and stopped two penalties, winning the match for the Netherlands! To put this into perspective, Tim Krul's Fan Nickname is "Goyco" in a Shout-Out to the aforementioned Sergio Goycochea... and Krul lived up to this nickname!
  • And in the Argentina-Belgium quarter-final, Gonzalo "Pipita" Higuaín scored a really nice goal after just eight minutes, placing Argentina back in the semifinals after six WC's and 24 years. (and it was Higuain's only good moment in a tournament he performed below expectations)
  • Germany - Brazil. 7-1. Thomas Müller gets the tenth goal of his World Cup career (and still aged just 24), Miroslav "Miro" Klose finally overtakes Ronaldo as the leading scorer in World Cup history with 16 (and at age 36), Toni Kroos adds two and Sami Khedira one within six minutes of Klose's goal to make it 5-0 before 30 minutes have been played, Schürrle adds two more in the second half, and though Oscar scores a last-minute consolation goal for Brazil, it all adds up to one of the most comprehensive demolitions in World Cup history - the biggest margin of victory in the knockout stage, the biggest margin of victory over the host nation (double the previous recordsnote ), and Brazil's worst defeat since a 6-0 Copa America loss to Uruguay in 1920.
  • In the other semifinal, Argentina and Netherlands go to penalties. Romero, the Argentinian goalie, beautifully stops two Dutch shots and takes Argentina to the finals.
  • Mario Götze scoring the game-winning goalnote  in the World Cup Final after 113+ minutes of scorelessness, giving Germany the first Cup since reunification.
    • This made Germany the sole European team to have won a World Cup taking place on the American continent. For comparison, Brazil had achieved the equivalent (a South American team winning on European soil) in 1958.
    • Germany also became the second European team to win a World Cup outside of Europe (the first being Spain in 2010).