World Cup 2022

101 Great World Cup Moments: 59-50


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 week leading up to the tournament.

If you missed it, here is 101-90, here is 89-80, 79-70 and 69-60.

59: Well it didn’t hit Rivaldo in the face

Rivaldo scored 269 senior goals in his career, winning 23 major trophies including the Champions League, the World Cup and the 1999 Ballon d’Or. But, the brilliant Brazilian striker is most well-known for his dive during this World Cup 2002 group match. It had been a hard-fought affair, in which Brazil had come from a goal down to take the lead, and Turkey’s Alpay Özalan had been sent off.

In the dying embers of the game, Rivaldo is standing waiting to take a corner, wasting a bit of time. Hakan Ünsal kicks the ball towards him, slightly harder than necessary, it bounces off Rivaldo’s thigh, but he then collapses to the floor holding his face.

The referee, presuming something very aggressive has taken place, sent off Ünsal, meaning this remains one of the most high-profile incidents of cheating in World Cup history.

58: The Battle of Santiago

Despite the fact televisions were only just becoming widespread in 1962, it’s the broadcast coverage of this group game between Chile and Italy, in the U.K. at least, that makes this game so memorable.

Hosts Chile won 2-0, but the scoreline isn’t what made headlines, it was the violence. The first foul was committed after just 12 seconds. Both Giorgio Ferrini and Mario David were sent off, while Leonel Sánchez, who punched Humberto Maschio in the face, breaking his nose, somehow avoided being dismissed. When Ferrini was sent off, he refused to walk, so was dragged off by police, partially leading to the introduction of yellow and red cards in 1970.

On the BBC, before broadcasting highlights of this game a few days later, David Coleman infamously described this as: “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game”.

57: Pelé… what a save! Gordon Banks!

In 1970, holders England and pre-tournament favourites Brazil met in a high-quality group game in Guadalajara. The South American side, who’d go onto lift the trophy a fortnight later, won 1-0, but that isn’t what this game is remembered for. In the first half, Jairzinho’s cross picked out Pelé, who headed it down but, somehow, Gordon Banks, clawed the ball off the line and behind for a corner.

Afterwards, Pelé said “I thought that was a goal”, to which Banks replied “you and me both”. This is still widely regarded as the best save in World Cup history.

56: Before VAR, Prince Fahad was getting goals chalked off

Kuwait’s one and only World Cup appearance came in 1982, and their most iconic moment came against France. With the score 3-1 to les Bleus, Alain Giresse appeared to have added a fourth, but this was met with wide-spread appeals.

The Kuwaiti players had stopped in the build up, after hearing a whistle, that had actually come from the crowd. Prince Fahad rushed onto the pitch and told referee Myroslav Stupar that Kuwait would not continue if the goal was given. To much French dismay, the goal was actually disallowed, and, after a five-minute delay, the game resumed at 3-1.

Ironically, this was all for nothing because, mere moments later, Maxime Bossis scored France’s fourth, although Stupar didn’t referee any FIFA sanction-matches after that.

55: North Korea’s famous win

If you like a World Cup underdog story, look no further than Middlesbrough in 1966. Going into this tournament, Asian teams had lost all three World Cup matches, conceding 22 and scoring zero. The trend looked set to continue when North Korea were beaten 3-0 by Soviet Union, before holding Chile to a last-gasp draw. Then, in their final group game, Pak Doo-ik wrote his name into World Cup history, bagging the only goal as his team beat Italy, thereby piping the then two-times World Champions to a quarter-final spot. To this day, North Korea remain the only Asian nation to reach the last eight on foreign soil, an achievement that shouldn’t be forgotten.

54: Argentina’s tainted World Cup triumph

The 1978 World Cup was controversially hosted by Argentina, not least because the country had undergone a coup two years earlier, with the military junta’s presence felt by all in attendance. With this backdrop, it’s unsurprising that la Albiceleste managed to win their first world title, even if they did have great players, none more so than tournament top-scorer Mario Kempes.

Nevertheless, there were allegations or favourable refereeing throughout the competition, including the final, and allegations of corruption surrounding their win over Peru. Back then, there were no knockout rounds, instead the two finalists would be decided in a second group phase.

After Brazil had beaten Poland 3-1 earlier in the day, Argentina needed to defeat already-eliminated Peru by four-clear goals, running out 6-0 winners, partially thanks to some half-hearted goalkeeping by Ramón Quiroga.

53: Esteban Cambiasso’s team goal

In 2006, Lionel Messi made his World Cup debut against Serbia & Montenegro, but this game is more widely remembered thanks to Argentina’s stunning second goal. In the space of 40 seconds, 24 passes are played, with nine of la Albiceleste’s ten outfielders contributing.

This culminates in Esteban Cambiasso playing an exquisite one-two with Hernán Crespo before firing into the top corner; the best team goal in World Cup history?

52: Senegal’s stunning debut

Back in far away 2002, the holders, not the hosts, featured in the World Cup’s opening match. This particular match-up saw reigning champions France take on debutants Senegal; there’s only going to be one winner right?

Well, against all odds, the only goal was scored by Papa Bouba Diop, bundling the ball over the line on the half-hour mark. This was a momentous victory for Senegal who, until 42 years before, had been a French colony.

Les Bleus would crash out in the group phase, while the Lions of Teranga came agonisingly close to the semi-finals, with this their big moment.

51: Pelé dazzles without even touching it

Pelé is ground-breaking in so many ways, winning three World Cups and scoring 12 goals. However, he’s equally as well-known for a chance he didn’t convert, actually missing with the goal gaping. In the 1970 semi-final against Uruguay, after a through-ball from Tostão, Pelé is one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Without even touching it, he sells Ladislao Mazurkiewicz a dummy, runs round him, but slots the ball wide. Even though he didn’t score, this just added to the zeitgeist that Brazil were playing a different sport, doing things that no other team at the time were capable of.

50: Cameroon stun the world

Up until 1990, African teams had made little impact at World Cups, winning just four of 23 matches.

In Italy though, Cameroon became the first African quarter-finalists, writing their name in history along the way. First, François Omam-Biyik towering header saw them beat reigning World Champions Argentina in the tournament’s opening match.

This game is best known for the the Indomitable Lions’ rather industrial tackles, resulting in André Kana-Biyik and Benjamin Massing both being sent off. The other iconic moment came in Cameroon’s round of 16 victory over Colombia. Flamboyant goalkeeper René Higuita was robbed on the halfway line by Roger Milla, who scored his second goal in as many minutes, before famously dancing by the corner flag.

It’s no exaggeration to say this Cameroonian team changed the perception of African people around the globe, making them one of the most poignant teams in World Cup history.


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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