World Cup 2022

Top ten most memorable World Cup Finals


On Sunday, the 22nd FIFA World Cup Final will take place with Argentina taking on France at Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Ahead of this huge match, we’re looking back at the ten most memorable World Cup Finals of all-time.

10) France 4-2 Croatia: 2018

Kylian Mbappé was the star of World Cup 2018, scoring four goals and picking up the young player of the tournament award.

In this victory over Croatia, he became the first teenager to score in a final since Pelé 60 years earlier, fired France 4-1 up; they’d eventually win 4-2.

This was the highest-scoring final, excluding extra time, since 1958, with Mbappé's stunning goal capping off a coming of age competition for the 19 year old.

Les Bleus were crowned world champions for the second time, while Croatia were welcomed home as heroes, despite defeat.

That’s because Zlatko Dalić's team had become the second-smallest nation, by population, to reach the final, a feat they remarkably almost matched in Qatar.

9) Netherlands 1-2 West Germany: 1974

The 1974 final saw bitter rivals Netherlands and West Germany go head-to-head at Olympiastadion.

This game produced the fastest-ever goal in a World Cup Final.

Johan Neeskens converted a penalty for Oranje with just 90 seconds on the clock, after Johan Cruyff had been scythed down by Uli Hoeneß.

However, Paul Breitner equalised with a spot-kick of his own, before Gerd Müller won it with a trademark turn and finish.

Having also won Euro ‘72, West Germany became the first team to be European and world champions simultaneously, a feat since achieved by France and Spain.

This is the first of three World Cup Finals Netherlands have lost in with, arguably, the Dutch’s best-ever side coming so close to glory.

8) Brazil 4-1 Italy: 1970

World Cup 1970 was the first to be broadcast in colour, making it the first of the ‘modern age’ in many regards.

Partially as a result of this, that dazzling Brazilian side, in their striking yellow shirts, is still remembered by many as the greatest team of all time.

Mário Zagallo’s team demolished Italy 4-1 in the final, with Pelé opening the scoring in his last World Cup match.

But it’s the fourth goal, fired home by Carlos Alberto, that’s remembered, with eight of ten outfielders touching the ball, ensuring it remains one of the best World Cup goals ever scored.

7) France 3-0 Brazil: 1998

The World Cup Final in 1998 saw hosts France face defending champions Brazil; it doesn’t get any bigger than that.

The best two players on the planet, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo, were set to go head-to-head, or were they?

72 minutes before kick off, FIFA received the official team-sheet from Brazil that featured Edmundo in the starting XI and Ronaldo on the bench.

BBC commentator John Motson said this news commenced scenes of “absolute mayhem and chaos” in the media area.

However, just 20 minutes later, the CBF submitted a ‘modified’ team-sheet that did feature Ronaldo starting.

O Fenômeno did play the full 90 minutes, but was a shadow of his usual self as France ran out 3-0 winners.

Many years later, it was revealed Ronaldo had spent the previous night in hospital, having been found in his hotel room by teammate Roberto Carlos, suffering from a convulsion that left him unconscious for around four minutes.

Doctors told Ronaldo there was no way he could play, so the real reason he did remains a mystery.

From the French point of view, their team was nicknames ‘the rainbow team’ and was given the slogan ‘black-blanc-beur, celebrating it’s multiculturalism.

The photograph of Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc and Zinedine Zidane holding the trophy became the abiding image the would represent this.

6) Argentina 3-1 Netherlands: 1978

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.

Kempes scored twice in the final, including the go-ahead goal in the final, as Netherlands ended up with back-to-back runners-up medals.

For la Albiceleste, 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.

Nevertheless, for those growing up in the late-70s, Kempes’ hair as well as the ticker tape raining down from the stands remain iconic.

5) West Germany 3-2 Hungary: 1954

Hungary are one of just three nations to feature in multiple World Cup Finals without ever winning one, and 1954 was their golden chance.

With Ferenc Puskás as captain, the ‘golden team’ were 32 games unbeaten, scoring 25 goals in four matches en route to the final, including demolishing West Germany 8-3 in the group stages.

So, when the two met in the final just a fortnight later, there was only going to be one winner, right?

That’s because, on the other side, it was a miracle West Germany had made it this far, coming just nine years after the end of WWII.

Hungary raced into an eighth minute 2-0 lead, all going to script, only for the underdogs to pull it back to 2-2 shortly after.

In the pouring rain, equipped with longer studs, provided by Adi Dassler, Helmut Rahn’s late winner secured the shock victory for West Germany.

This remains one of the biggest surprises ever seen in a World Cup Final, and is known as the Miracle of Bern.

4) Uruguay 2-1 Brazil: 1950

World Cup 1950 is the only edition of the tournament not to feature a final.

Instead the four group winners would all feature in a South American-style final round pool, simply to make more money from gate receipts.

Going into the last game, Brazil sat top, having smashed Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1, while Uruguay were two points behind, after a 2-2 and then a comeback 3-2 win.

Thus, the host nation needed only a draw, leading to local newspaper O Mondo publishing a picture of the team with the headline “these are the world champions”.

Obdulio Varela, Uruguay’s understandably furious captain, bought a dozen copies and laid them on the floor, encouraging teammates to urinate all over them.

However, it was all going to plan for the hosts when Friaça broke the deadlock.

Juan Alberto Schiaffino then equalised, before the unthinkable happened.

Alcides Ghiggia won it for Uruguay, beating Moacir Barbosa at his near post, an error he never got over.

Uruguay claimed the trophy and Brazil abandoned their all-white kit, never to be worn again.

3) Argentina 3-2 West Germany: 1986

The 1986 final is widely regarded as the most exciting final of the television age.

Argentina raced into an early 2-0 lead, only for quick-fire goals from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Völler to pull West Germany draw level.

Nevertheless, they were only level for little over two minutes.

Diego Maradona played in Jorge Burruchaga, who wrote his name into World Cup history by poking the winner beyond Toni Schumacher.

Maradona didn’t score in this final, but was instrumental in la Albiceleste’s success, putting in one of the great individual performances in front of 114,600 supporters at the Azteca.

2) England 4-2 West Germany: 1966

The 1966 World Cup, in Britain especially, was a watershed moment for the World Cup, with 32.3 million people watching the final on TV, still a record.

On the pitch, England beat rivals West Germany 4-2 in front of almost 97,000 at Wembley.

The game finished 2-2 after 90 minutes, with the iconic moments both coming in extra time.

First, Sir Geoff Hurst put England back in front and, to this day, it’s still unknown whether or not the ball crossed the line.

The ‘Russian linesman’ Tofiq Bahramov, who gave the goal, became infamous as a result; he’s actually from modern-day Azerbaijan, with Qarabağ's home in Baku named after him.

Hurst then completed his hat-trick, the only man to bag a treble in a World Cup Final, and Kenneth Wolstenholme’s BBC commentary is up there as some of the most iconic:

“Here comes Hurst. He’s got... some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over. It is now! It’s four!”

1) Italy 1-1 France: 2006

The 2006 World Cup Final was to be Zinedine Zidane’s last match in professional football, with Zizou staring during the knockout stages.

That night in Berlin, the French captain very much ensured he was the centre of attention.

First, les Blues were awarded a seventh minute penalty after Marco Materazzi (more on him shortly) tripped Florent Malouda.

Zidane, in typical Zidane fashion, elected for a Panenka that, just, crossed the line, bouncing in off the crossbar.

This lead didn’t last long though with Materazzi heading home a corner shortly after.

The final went to extra time, ten minutes into which came the defining moment.

The two scorers get into a disagreement, which led to Zidane head-butting Materazzi in the chest.

Referee Horacio Elizondo brandishes a red card, only after consulting fourth official Luis Medina Cantalejo via his headset; some early VAR foreshadowing.

In the subsequent shootout, David Trezeguet thwacked his effort against the crossbar, with semi-final hero Fabio Grosso firing home the decisive kick for Italy.

The picture of Zidane sombrely walking past the trophy, his last act as a footballer, is hard to top when it comes to iconic World Cup images.


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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