The ongoing edition of the quadrennial mega event has already seen a lot of records getting broken.
We have witnessed many a spectacle in the history of world football which has kept us scratching our heads to this day. But this Qatar World Cup 2022 looming around with all its voodoo has certainly lived up to its expectation to date. The thrill of victory belongs to some while the agony of defeat has to be the burden for an entire nation.
There are a lot of compelling stories to tell heading only into the second week of this prestigious tournament. A tournament which has elated many but has broken the hearts of thousands. So here’s a look at the top five amazing comebacks in this edition of the World Cup.
Croatia vs Canada (FT. 4-1, Group F)
The finalists of 2018 were held on to an unlikely 0-0 draw in their opening game of the tournament against Morocco. It was a result not many had predicted. And this is why the Croats were seeking a shaft of life against Canada to get their campaign off and running.
On the lookout for early momentum, the Kockasti found themselves behind just after 64 seconds when Alphonso Davies came driving into the box to head in Canada’s first-ever goal in the World Cup finals after a fine cross by Tajon Buchanan.
But the side in red and white had always shown their penchant for coming from behind. And they did the same after Andrej Kramaric finished off a fine move at the near post in the 36th minute to be assisted by Mateo Kovacic. Although both the sides traded attacks throughout the game, there was no looking back for the Croats. They completed a successful riot netting on four different occasions after the early setback thanks to the help of Marko Livaja, Lovro Majer and a brace from Andrej Kramaric.
Thus they ended Canada’s dream of progression to the Round of 16.
Spain vs Germany (FT. 1-1, Group E)
With the exit door looming large for Die Mannschaft after a shocking defeat against the resurgent Japanese in their opening game, the Germans had to turn the tie against the Spanish armada who looked promising. Though the attacking options are still a question for Hansi Flick’s side, he benched an off-form Kai Havertz to play the always-dependent Thomas Muller as a false nine. His tactics were questioned by many. And the Germans did not get off to a good start only to have a goal ruled out for offside by Thomas Rudiger in the later stages of the first half.
The game hung tightly in the balance till Alvaro Morata finished off a blistering move through the legs of Niklas Sule at the near post past Manuel Neuer in the 62nd minute. The Germans were staring down deep into the abyss and had to dig deep to keep their hopes alive.
Niclas Fullkrug stepped up and slammed home the equaliser in the 83rd minute and claimed a more than positive draw to keep themselves in contention of going through the group. It still remains as a game of chess heading into the final group stage games.
Cameroon vs Serbia (FT. 3-3, Group G)
It had all appeared so routine for Serbia in this game who were looking capitulating and organised. But can you ever count out the sheer strength and urge of the Africans? The optimism of the Cameroonians did not fade till the last minute after they found themselves 1-0 up against the Eagles. Thi was when Jean-Charles Castelleto headed in their opener from a teasing corner by Pierre Kunde.
His goal was only to be bested by the likes of Pavlovic, Sergej Milinkovic Savic and the evergreen Aleksandar Mitrovic who were relentless and the refurbished Serbians were up by 3-1 in the blink of an eye. But the Indomitable Lions continued to press and they had their fair share when Vincent Aboubakar finished off a cheeky chip over Vanja Milinkovic Savic in the 63rd minute and also went on to assist Eric Maxim Choupo Moting to hand them the all-important equaliser. Although both these teams are on the precipice of being knocked out now, this was a delight to watch.
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Japan vs Spain (FT. 2-1, Group E)
Heading into this game, all Spain needed was a draw to progress into the knockout rounds. Japan needed a win. Yet it would be Spain, who would take the lead through Alvaro Morata’s header as early as the 11th minute. With Germany also taking the lead against Costa Rica in the other group game, Japan were heading home from the World Cup 2022. The Samurai Blue had just 17% ball possession and zero shots on target in the opening half against Spain. They were far from qualification and closer to elimination.
It all seemed that the loss against Costa Rica was proving too heavy. But if anything, Japan showed against Germany earlier at this World Cup they wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Out came Hajime Moriyasu’s men in the second half and scored within three minutes after kick-off. A stunning shot from substitute Ritsu Doan, helped with some poor goalkeeping from Unai Simon saw Japan level the scores. Doan brought down a half-cleared ball, cut back and shot from outside the box that Simon parried into his net. Another three minutes later, Japan scored again to take the lead.
Once again Doan was in action. He played a lovely low cross into the box that evaded everyone and was heading out for a goal kick. But fellow substitute Karou Mitoma pulled the ball back into play with a cross that Ao Tanaka bundled into the net. Although replays suggested, the ball might have already gone out before Mitoma crossed it back into play, the goal stood. 2-1 Japan. They won and advanced to the Round OF 16 as Group E leaders.
Germany vs Japan (FT. 1-2, Group E)
With Germany and Japan squaring off at Khalifa International Stadium in the searing heat, it seemed like a walk in the park for the Germans. But fortune always favours the brave. The miracle appeared even less likely for the Japanese when Ilkay Gundogan gleefully gobbled up a penalty from 12 yards to give the Germans the lead. And Kai Havertz had a goal ruled out for offside in the dying stages of the first half.
But Japan was in no mood to go down without a fight and they renewed their hope when Ritsu Doan netted in the equaliser in the 75th minute deservingly. An unlikely upset and a staggering story emerged out of nowhere much to the delight of the Japanese when Takuma Asano finished off an amazing sole run to land a feisty blow to the Germans and grab a winner in the 83rd minute capping off one of the most impressive performances in World Cup history.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia (FT. 1-2, Group C)
The euphoria around this match is still ongoing, isn’t it? The South Americans’ mammoth 36-game unbeaten streak came to a shuddering halt as the most unexpected team of the tournament gave them the unlikeliest of outcomes. La Albiceleste looked to be well on their way when Lionel Messi converted from the spot in the 10th minute to give them the lead.
With the Argentines showing no inclination to merely sit on their lead, the Saudi Arabian footballers were out of all sorts and hardly had a crack at Emiliano Martinez’s goal in the first half. But a jaw-dropping speech by the passionate manager Herve Renard at the end of the first half immediately set about the greatest comeback the footballing world has ever seen.
Saleh Alshehri ran past a struggling Cristian Romero to hand the Saudis the equaliser and Salem Aldawari landed the potential knockout blow as he scored a screamer from outside the box condemning the Argentines to defeat. Despite the gargantuan efforts of the men in blue and white, there was no way back for them as the Saudi Arabians pulled off the seemingly impossible task and recorded the biggest victory in their history of football.