Sunday, 21 February 2010

Football: 13 Great World Cup Moments

13 Great World Cup Moments

Here is a look back at some defining and ever-lasting World Cup memories. The first World Cup tournament was played in 1930, and in total, 18 World Cup Final tournaments have been held, resulting in numerous memorable moments. The terrific memories described below are from the more recent World Cups, starting in 1966. These moments capture the drama, controversy, heroism, and moments of sublime skill that define the World Cup.

1966: Hurst's Hat-Trick -- or Was It?!
Considered the first modern World Cup tournament thanks to extensive television coverage, and held in football's birthplace, the 1966 tournament in England will forever be remembered for a dramatic Final. Hosts England faced West Germany, and England's Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick, still the only player to ever do so, as England triumphed 4-2 after extra time. The Final also featured a dramatic late equalizer in normal time by the Germans, and a still-disputed goal which proved to be the winner: Hurst's second goal, giving England the 3-2 lead in extra time, smashed against the underside of the bar and dropped down -- but was the ball ever fully behind the line? The linesman said yes, and the debate has never ended. The video below captures  the disputed goal. In or out?

1970: Brazil's Perfect Goal The Brazil side that won the 1970 World Cup in Mexico is often cited as the most perfect team to ever lift the trophy. Playing stylish, attacking football, and featuring an unrivalled collection of gifted players like Pele, Jairzinho, Gerson, Tostao and Rivelino, Brazil often seemed to be on a different level altogether compared to their opponents. It was no surprise that they brushed aside Italy 4-1 in the Final. Brazil's fourth goal, scored in the 86th minute by captain Carlos Alberto, epitomized Brazil's brand of football. A flowing end-to-end and flank-to-flank move featuring seven Brazilian players, a combination of individual skill and teamplay, and finished with gusto by the overlapping Alberto's unstoppable shot into the corner of the net. See the perfect goal in the video below.


1974: Holland's Total Football Four years after Brazil set the standard, Holland burst onto the scene and re-invented the game with the Total Football concept. Based on contiuous player movement, fluid exchange of positions, maintaining ball control through intricate passing, and anchored by sublime individual skills, Holland introduced the world to a new game and strode majestically to the Final, with maestro Johan Cruyff as the main conductor of the orchestra. In the video below, watch for the chipped passes, quick pass exchanges, frequent through balls, continuous player movement and change of direction, individual skill, and the non-stop movement of the ball from flank to flank. Watch also for the opposing players, international players who often seem simply mesmerized and unable to read the play.

1978: Peru's Capitulation Argentina, the host country and governed by a brutal military dictatorship, needed to beat Peru by four clear goals in their final second stage group game to qualify for the Final ahead of long-time rivals Brazil. The schedule very much suited the hosts, since their game kicked off several hours after Brazil's game against Poland, which meant that Argentina knew exactly what they needed to do to reach the Final. Peru were one of the better teams at the tournament, having played well and made it through to the second Group stage. Argentina won the game 6-0 in what appeared to be scandalous fashion, and fingers were pointed to Peru's keeper Ramon Quiroga, who was actually born in Rosario, Argentina. The hosts went on to defeat Holland 3-1 after extra time in the Final, and claim their first World Cup victory. Do Argentina's goals against Peru look too easy? Judge for yourself from the video below.


1982: Rossi's Hat-Trick Brazil were the class of the 1982 World Cup, held in Spain. With players like Zico, Socrates and Falcao, Brazil played fluid, attacking football that enchanted the world. Through their first four games they brushed aside opponents with dismissive ease, winning all four by a combined margin of 13-3. Meeting Italy in their final second stage group game, Brazil just needed a draw to advance to the Semi-Final. Italy had scraped through the first group stage, luckily qualifying for the second round despite only drawing their opening three games. In a remarkable upset, Italy beat Brazil 3-2, with diminutive striker Paolo Rossi scoring all three of Italy's goals. Prior to the game many were questioning why Rossi was in the Italian side, having been involved in a betting scandal in his native Italy prior to the tournament, and not having looked sharp in any of Italy's first four games. Both Italy and Rossi caught fire at the right time, and went on win the World Cup with Rossi scoring a total of 6 goals in three games. For a lesson in clinical finishing by a real goal poacher when it mattered most, see the video below.

1982: The Epic Semi-Final France met West Germany in the 1982 Semi-Final, with France inspired by the brilliant Michel Platini and industrious Alain Giresse, while West Germany featured tricky winger Pierre Littbarski and forward Klaus Fischer, but hobbled with injury to their star striker Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who was consigned to the substitute bench. An epic game of immense drama ensued, with West Germany taking the lead but France equalizing through a penalty. German keeper Harald Schumacher then violently body-checked France's Patrick Battiston, knocking him unconscious. Schumacher somehow escaped any punishment from the referee. The game was tied 1-1 at full time and went into 30 minutes of extra-time, during which France took a 3-1 lead and looked certain to advance to the Final. But Rummenigge came off the bench and inspired his team to a remarkable comeback. Rummenigge scored to make it 3-2 and Fisher notched the equalizer with a spectacular overhead kick. For the first time in modern World Cup history a hugely important game would be decided on penalty kicks, and even then the score was tied after the first five kicks for each side. West Germany finally triumphed when French player Max Bossis missed his side's sixth kick. An exhausted West German team went on to meekly lose the Final to Italy. All the drama from the epic semi-final is in the video below.

1986: The Hand of God England met Argentina in the 1986 Quarter Finals in Mexico, just four years after the countries had fought the Falklands War. With the game tied at 0-0, a badly sliced defensive clearance seemed to be an easy save for England's goalkeeper Peter Shilton, but as he jumped to punch the ball clear, Argentine's Diego Maradona jumped in front of him and fisted the ball over Shilton and into the net. Amazingly, the referee and the linesmen allowed the goal to stand. Argentina went on to win the game 2-1. Maradona later said that the goal was assisted by the Hand of God, giving an appropriate label to one of the most famous events in World Cup history. Have a look at the most controversial goal in football history in the video below.

1986: Goal of the Century It is rare enough for a game to produce one eternal memory; all the more surreal when one game produces two all-time legendary goals. Three minutes after the Hand of God goal, Maradona picked up the ball just inside his own half, and proceeded on a fast and mazy 10-second dribble in which he beat four England players before slotting the ball past Peter Shilton. The goal was later voted Goal of the Century in a 2002 poll. Argentina, inspired by Maradona, went on to brush aside Belgium in the semi-finals and defeated West Germany in an enthralling final to claim their second World Cup. Have a look at the Goal of the Century in the video below.


1990: Milla's Flag Dance In the 1990 World Cup hosted by Italy, Cameroon made history by becoming the first African nation to qualify for the second round. There they met a strong Colombian side, tipped as one of the favourites to win the tournament. The Colombian keeper, Rene Higuita, was trying to single-handedly invent a new style of goalkeeping where he played almost as an extra defender, regularly involving himself in passes among the outfield players and leaving his net dangerously exposed. Higuita did not count on Roger Milla, the wily veteran Cameroon striker. Thought to be 38 years old at the time but likely a bit older, he came on as a substitute. In the second half of extra time with the game scoreless, Milla powered in a goal to give his side the lead. For good measure, three minutes later Milla embarrassed Higuita by dispossessing him and burying the ball in the unguarded net to give Cameroon the win. He celebrated each of his goals by racing to the corner flag for an emotional dance, capturing the world's imagination. Have a look at a veteran footballer
making history in the video below.


1994: Baggio's Balloon The 1994 World Cup final, held in the USA, was between Brazil and Italy. What was expected to be an entertaining affair with Romario and Bebeto leading the Brazilian attack and Roberto Baggio inspiring the Italians turned into a drab and scoreless game. Brazil missed the better chances, but the game ended up being the first Final to be decided on penalties. With Brazil leading 3-2 after four kicks each, Baggio stepped up to take Italy's fifth penalty, needing to score to prolong the final. He ballooned the ball so high over the net that the ball still hasn't landed. The man whose mystical midfield skills had carried Italy all the way to the Final will forever be remembered for one of the worst ever World Cup penalty kicks. The entire penalty shoot-out of the '94 Final is in the video below.


1998: Ronaldo's Meltdown The Brazilian striker Ronaldo, at 22 years old, was already the world's most famous footballer and most clinical goal scorer. With the world watching his every move and the hopes of Brazil on his shoulders, the pressure was immense. Brazil stuttered through the tournament unconvincingly, winning by narrow margins against inferior opposition, but they made it through to the Final, with Ronaldo scoring an adequate but not shattering four times in six games. Hosts France were Brazil's opposition in the Final, but all the drama happened before the kick-off: first Brazil submitted a starting line-up that shockingly excluded Ronaldo; then they changed it and included him. What happened in the hours before kick-off remains shrouded in mystery and confusion, but it transpired that Ronaldo suffered a panic attack severe enough to require hospitalization. Another subject of debate is how much sponsor influence was exerted to re-insert him into the starting line up, regardless of his physical condition. In the end, France, inspired by Zinedine Zidane, convincingly triumphed 3-0, with a shell-shocked Brazil never threatening and Ronaldo largley ineffectual. Ronaldo did come back to help Brazil win the trophy in 2002, and scored enough goals in the 2006 tournament to become the all-time leading scorer in the World Cup. The highlights of the 1998 Final are in the video below.


2002: South Korea's Journey In a demonstration of how far team spirit can go, South Korea, the co-hosts with Japan of the 2002 World Cup Finals, made it all the way to the Semi-Final. A combination of hard work, good fortune, tremendous fan support, and a series of controversial decisions saw the South Koreans go further than any other Asian team in the history of the World Cup. South Korea convincingly won their group, ahead of more heralded teams like Portugal. In Round 2, Italy were sensationally defeated 2-1 in extra time, the South Koreans equalizing in the 88th minute and scoring the golden goal winner in the 117th minute. In the Quarter Finals, South Korea controversially defeated Spain on penalties, after Spain had two apparently good goals disallowed. The South Korean dream run ended with a 1-0 defeat to the Germans in the Semi Finals, but not before proving that team spirit can go a long way towards remarkable success. The video below captures South Korea's journey at the 2002 World Cup.


2006: Zidane's Moment of Madness With the Final between Italy and France in Germany finely poised at 1-1, the game entered extra time. The Italians were visibly tiring and the French, inspired by Zinedine Zidane, were beginning to boss the game and looked the more likely to score. Zidane came close to giving France the lead, powering a thunderous header on the Italian net, but Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon pulled off a magnificent flying save. Minutes later, Zidane used his head again, but this time to deliver a devastating head-butt into the chest of Italian defender Marco Materazzi. Zidane was duly sent-off, France lost the initiative, and Italy won the game on penalty kicks. It later emerged that Zidane reacted to a Materazzi insult about his sister. His moment of madness may well have cost his country a second World Cup triumph. The first video below shows Zidane using his head the right way to force the magnificent Buffon save. The second video is the moment of madness.


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