There have been many interesting matches throughout the Qatar tournament, including significant upsets and incredible comebacks.
32 teams from around the world competed, reaffirming its status as the second-most important athletic event in the world after the Olympics. With Qatar apparently spending more than USD 220 billion in the last 12 years on infrastructure and related works for hosting the FIFA World Cup, the 2022 edition will be the most costly in football history.
Fans from all over the world flocked to the Gulf nation to see their favourite football clubs and players—many of whom are among the richest athletes in the world—compete for the sport’s highest honours.
Naturally, Qatar’s FIFA World Cup included cheering and dancing supporters in the stadiums and on the streets. It was obvious that the event was a celebration of the “beautiful game” in a nation that received plaudits for its effective management of both the audience and the competition.
Additionally, the 2022 FIFA World Cup had a tonne of surprises and shocks, just like all past previous tournaments.
The fact that no team in any of the eight groups could win all three of its games was one of the tournament’s many interesting details. In the end, Qatar became the first host nation to drop all three of its games during the group stage. Additionally, it is the first World Cup in which groups from each of the six inhabited continents made it to the knockout stages.
Top five most memorable FIFA World Cup 2022 matches are-
6. Saudi Arabia vs Argentina (2-1)
On 22 November, the third day of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail saw the first significant upset. Saudi Arabia beat Argentina, the tournament’s third-ranked team, 2-1. Saudi Arabia’s draw against Lionel Messi’s team would have been lauded. In fact, Messi netted a penalty in the 10th minute, making the Saudi Arabians seem doomed.
The invigorated Saudi team became Arab idols by the end of the match. Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari scored five minutes apart in the second half to put the Saudis ahead. Hervé Renard, their flamboyant manager, did not allow his boys to lose this edge.
The match statistics showed his plan. Argentines had six shots at the target, while Saudis had two. Messi’s team had 70% possession and nine corners to the Saudis’ two. Argentina lost. Saudi Arabia forced 10 offsides from Argentina. The latter had three offside goals in 13 minutes.
Saudi supporters rant about Messi. Saudi fans chanted “Where is Messi?” during their win celebrations. FIFA named it one of the greatest World Cup upsets.
5. Japan vs Germany (2-1)
Japan is never a World Cup favourite. The famed Blue Samurai give their best to the beautiful game. Their never-say-die mentality is amazing.
Japan showed tenacity in their 2022 FIFA World Cup opener against 2014 champion Germany on 23 November.
The Japanese faced Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Jamal Musiala, Mario Götze, and İlkay Gündoğan at Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan. Like the Saudi Arabia vs. Argentina match, the Japanese conceded a penalty in the 33rd minute, putting them behind the Germans.
Japanese tenacity prevailed. Ritsu Dōan and Takuma Asano, two second-half replacements, transformed the game.
Finally, Dōan scored a rebound in the 75th minute. In the 83rd minute, Asano beat the German defence on the right side and scored past Neuer. Germany, which lost its tournament opener against Japan, never recovered.
Japan rejoiced while Tokyo residents danced on crowded streets. Since 1978, Germany had never lost a World Cup game following a halftime lead. Germany lost its first World Cup match after leading at halftime since 1994.
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4. Japan vs Spain (2-1)
At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Japanese defeated two world champions. World no.7 Spain, the 2010 champion, lost this time.
Japan came on 1 December after losing to Costa Rica at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan. Spain trounced Costa Rica 7-0 after tying Germany. Spain outperformed Japan because of its overall performance.
Germany faced Costa Rica as Japan faced Spain. To qualify for the knockout stage, Germany needed Japan against lose to Spain or draw.
Álvaro Morata’s 11th-minute goal put Spain ahead of Japan. Japanese grit was unabated. Ritsu Dōan, who equalised against Germany, came on as a replacement after halftime and scored in the 48th minute. Japan took the lead three minutes later when midfielder Ao Tanaka scored, eliminating Germany.
Also, after winning two matches in Group E, Japan was the only team to advance to Round 16. Naturally, Japanese fans partied in the streets. After the historic triumph, many believed Japan may win the World Cup.
Germans defeated Costa Rica 4-2. They failed to advance from the FIFA World Cup group stage for the second time.
3. Croatia vs Brazil (1-1, 4-2 on penalties)
After a 1-1 stalemate over 120 minutes, Croatia defeated tournament favourites Brazil 4-2 on penalties to reach the World Cup semi-finals on Friday.
After overcoming Japan again on penalties in the last 16, the 2018 runners-up will face either the Netherlands or Argentina, who play later. Neymar’s extra-time goal for the five-time world winners seemed to win the game on a tense night. In Doha’s Education City Stadium, Croatia substitute Bruno Petkovic’s left-footed equaliser three minutes from extra time broke Brazilian hearts.
Marquinhos and Rodrygo missed penalties, but the Croats kept their cool. Croatia started well and blocked Brazil’s early moves. Brazil’s offence was limited to a poor Vinicius Jr. shot due to Neymar’s slowness and a determined backline. Croatia looked sharper, had a better passing game, and had more possession by halftime.
The Brazilians, who last defeated a European opponent in the knockout stages in their 2002 final win over Germany, struggled to create space. Croatia goalie Dominik Livakovic saved a Neymar free kick before halftime. However, Josko Gvardiol almost scored their own goal three minutes after the restart.
In the 55th minute, Richarlison sent Neymar through, but Livakovic blocked his close-range shot. Seconds later, VAR overturned Josip Juranovic’s handball claim. The Brazilians, who have lost four of their last five World Cup quarterfinals to European teams, started the second half well and came near again in the 66th when Livakovic denied Lucas Paqueta.
The Croatian keeper stopped Neymar in the 76th and had seven saves by then, more than Alisson had in the entire competition (five). Five minutes later, Livakovic saved another Paqueta shot, and the game went into extra time with Brazil coach Tite looking worried.
In stoppage time of the first period, Neymar, who had been lackluster, launched an attack beyond the box, played two successive one-twos to bamboozle the fatigued Croatian defence, and then around the keeper to tie Brazil great Pele’s record of 77 international goals. Petkovic’s equalizer forced penalties and the Croats won after Livakovic saved Rodrygo’s penalty and Marquinos hit the post.
2. Netherlands vs Argentina (2-2, 3-4 on penalties)
Lionel Messi began the match with another soccer clinic. The Argentina star finished with a bleeding upper lip, cursing opponents and the referee. One of the game’s greatest players, who is still trying to win the World Cup, scored goals, too.
Argentina took a 2-0 lead, conceded an equalizer in the 11th minute of second-half stoppage time, and won the shootout 4-3 in Lusail Stadium. Argentina advanced to the semifinals against Croatia, which defeated Brazil earlier Friday after Messi converted his penalty in the shootout and Emiliano Martínez made two saves.
Messi ran toward the goalkeeper, who had collapsed to the side of the goal after Lautaro Martinez landed the winning penalty. “We had to suffer,” Messi said, “but we got through.”
Messi played exceptionally well in a furious contest that saw 17 yellow cards—a World Cup record—two of which went to Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries, who was sent off after the game. Messi and his teammates danced and jumped for 20 minutes in front of Argentina’s scarf-waving fans.
Argentina only reached the last four twice since 1990. In 2014, Messi lost the final to Germany, and he looks ready to do it again in a tournament that is becoming his highlight reel.
Finally, Messi’s skill and vision set up Nahuel Molina’s 35th-minute opener. He twisted free in center midfield and sprinted forward, unbalancing Netherlands defender Nathan Ake and providing a no-look reverse pass for Molina to score his first international goal. Also, after Marcus Acuna was tripped by Dumfries in the 73rd minute, his penalty was his fourth of the tournament and gave him 10 World Cup goals, tied with Gabriel Batistuta for Argentina. Messi has 94 international goals.
With his team down 2-0, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal substituted Weghorst & Luuk De Jong. The game changed abruptly.
Weghorst scored the last second-half World Cup knockout-stage goal five minutes after going on with a header from a right-wing cross in the 78th minute. Teun Koopmeiners feigned to shoot from the edge of the box, but Weghorst taught him a brilliant free-kick technique at Besiktas. Weghorst took a touch, held off his marker, and finished on the stretch, fooling the Argentine defence.
Also, Enzo Fernandez was the only Argentina player to miss in the shootout after hitting the post in extra time. Martinez danced after saving Van Dijk and Steven Berghuis’s shots. The loss ended 71-year-old Van Gaal’s third reign as Netherlands manager. At the 2014 World Cup, he lost to Argentina in a semifinal penalty shootout win over the Netherlands.
1. Argentina vs France (3-3, 4-2 on penalties)
In an extravagant final, Argentina defeated France 3-3 (4-2 on penalties). Argentina took the early lead and was two goals up at the end of the first half. Lionel Messi converted from the spot kicks and opened the scoring for Albiceleste. Argentinians looked in control of the game but French substitutes injected pace into the team.
Kylian Mbappe scored France’s first goal from the spot in the 80th minute. It was also France’s first shot on target in the game. In the very next minute, Mbappe scored a stunning half-volley from the edge of the box. In the extra time, Messi scored another from close range but Mbappe spoiled the party with another spot-kick.
It was Emi Martinez in the penalties who became the hero once again in the penalties and made an excellent save. Gonzalo Montiel scored the winning penalty to give Argentina its third World Cup.
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