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101 Great World Cup Moments: 101-90

The World Cup: simply the biggest show on earth.

To date, there have been 17 different hosts, 80 nations have taken part, exactly 900 matches have been played, 2,548 goals have been scored, and eight countries have lifted the trophy.

With the latest edition due to start on November 20 between Qatar and Ecuador, 101 Great Goals kick-starts the countdown to Qatar 2022′s big kick off by taking a look back at 101 Great World Cup Moments.

We will count down through the moment in the weeks leading up to the tournament.

101: The start

This list isn’t in chronological order, but it makes sense to start with the first-ever World Cup matches. On 13 July 1930, France beat Mexico 4-1 while, simultaneously, just three kilometres across Montevideo, USA defeated Belgium 3-0.

Historical records mean exact goals times are disputed, but it’s widely believed that France’s Lucien Laurent scored the World Cup’s very first goal. That’s a name worth remembering, on the off-chance it’s a very impressive pub quiz answer.

100: Romania’s bleach blond hair

He would later recount: “before the tournament, we had put on a bet, to do a crazy thing if we got through the group. That’s how we all ended up blond, except me, who did not have much hair anymore!”

Having beaten both England and Colombia, Romania had secured safe passage into the last 16 with a game to spare. Anghel Iordănescu’s team were eliminated by Croatia in the first knockout round, but will always be fondly remembered for this uniquely bizarre moment.

99: Pickles finds the Jules Rimet

On 19 March, ahead of the 1966 World Cup, the Jules Rimet trophy was put on display to the public at Westminster Central Hall. However, the following day, security guards notice the trophy has been stolen.

A man, later identified as Edward Betchley, was arrested and charged after demanding £15,000 in ransom, but the trophy itself still hadn’t been found.

That is until David Corbett took his dog Pickles for a walk in Beulah Hill; Pickles started sniffing a parcel in some bushes and, when opened, the trophy was inside. 125 days later, Sir Bobby Moore was presented the trophy by Queen Elizabeth II, making this one of the most peculiar tales in World Cup history.

98: Diana Ross puts it wide

Plenty of people have missed gilt-edged chances at World Cups, but one of the most famous remains Diana Ross. The singer was the headline act for USA ‘94′s opening ceremony, which was supposed to feature her scoring a penalty, with the goal then splitting in two as a result of the venomous strike.

However, this didn’t quite go to plan, with Ross’ effort missing the target, perhaps foreshadowing the fate that would bestow Roberto Baggio a mere 30 days later.

97: Paul the Octopus

The World Cup’s global reach throws up weird and and wonderful phenomenon, none more so than Paul the psychic octopus from 2010.

Paul, who resided at Sea Life Oberhausen in Germany, rose to fame during the South Africa World Cup, correctly predicting the outcome of eight matches, Germany’s seven games and the final. He was presented with two clear plastic boxes, containing either muscles or oysters, with each box depicting the flag of a team playing.

So, partially, Spain have their array of wonderful players to thank for world glory, but most of the credit goes to a psychic octopus vulgaris from Weymouth.

96: Arjen Robben takes a tumble

The year is 2014, it’s the round of 16 and, with mere seconds to go, Mexico are on the cusp of their first ever World Cup knockout stage victory on foreign soil. Can El Tri hold on?

Well.. no, because, in the final minute of normal time, Wesley Sneijder volleys home an equaliser for Netherlands. Then comes the controversial moment, in the 94th minute no less.

Arjen Robben burst into the Mexican penalty area and, despite little-to-no contact with Rafael Márquez, theatrically tumbles to the floor and a penalty is given. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar steps up and, with the last kick of the game, sends Holland through. Even many years later, Mexican fans haven’t forgiven Robben for his ‘diving’.

95: How did he squeeze it in from there?

The World Cup 2010 ball, known as the Jabulani, featured just eight panels, down from 14, leading to some wild and wonderful goals that summer. This is certainly the case when assessing Maicon’s opener against Korea DPR. The full-back, busting down the right, tries to pull it back from the byline but, instead, the ball flies at a ridiculous angle, deceiving the helpless Ri Myong-guk.

The fluke nature of this unique goal from an extremely acute angle is what makes Maicon’s only World Cup goal so iconic.

94: No way through for Brazil

Guillermo Ochoa has actually only ever made eight World Cup appearances, but the journeyman goalkeeper is closely associated with the tournament, thanks largely to one magnificent individual display.

In 2014, Ochoa made six saves, each more remarkable than the last, as Mexico held hosts Brazil to a goalless draw in Fortaleza. El Tri became the first team from outside UEFA or CONMEBOL for 44 years to avoid defeat against Brazil at a World Cup.

But it was the reaction to Ochoa’s saves, coming in the first World Cup since social media had become widespread, that makes this so iconic, specifically those depicting Ochoa as Christ the Redeemer.

93: Negrete’s scissor-kick

One of the best World Cup goals ever scored came in 1986, when Manuel Negrete showcased an outrageous piece of skill. Representing hosts Mexico against Bulgaria, Negrete played a one two with Javier Aguirre, before pulling off a sublime scissor-kick, capturing the imagination of viewers around the globe.

This match is actually the last time Mexico have won a World Cup knockout game and, in the days before football on television had become commonplace, goals like this resonated far longer.

92: Tim Howard denies Belgium again

It’s not often that the player of the match ends up on the losing side, but Tim Howard very much deserved this individual accolade in 2014.

In a last 16 clash between Belgium and USA, Howard made an astonishing 15 saves, the most since World Cup records began in 1966. This helped take the game into extra time, with Belgium eventually prevailing 2-1, despite Howard’s heroics.

91: Scotland’s greatest-ever goal

Scotland hold the unwanted World Cup record for most appearances without ever getting through the first round, eight to be exact.

The Tartan Army’s most glorious of glorious failures came in 1978, beating eventual-finalists Netherlands. Going into the game, Scotland needed to beat the Dutch by three-clear goals, having slipped up against debutants Iran.

This seemed an impossible task, until Archie Gemmill dribbled past three defenders, and fired Scotland 3-1 up; an amazing solo-goal! The impossible was on, for three minutes at least, with Holland halving the deficit shortly after and sneaking through on goals scored.

90: Switzerland pay the price for poor penalties

In 2006, Switzerland became the first team in World Cup history to exit the competition without conceding a goal.

Köbi Kuhn’s team topped their group, holding France to a goalless draw before 2-0 victories over Togo and Korea Republic. Their round of 16 tie against Ukraine then finished scoreless, meaning a penalty shootout was required.

The Swiss would then set another record, this time an unwanted one. They became the only side to miss all their spot-kicks in a World Cup shootout. Marco Streller, Tranquillo Barnetta and Ricardo Cabanas all missed from 12 yards, as Ukraine reached the last eight.


Picture of Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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