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Top 5 most controversial goals in FIFA World Cup history

Published at :May 14, 2018 at 11:55 AM
Modified at :May 14, 2018 at 11:55 AM
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Neil Talnikar

Some of these goals have changed football history as we know it.

The FIFA World Cup is considered as an elite tournament in the footballing world. The biggest football event in the world, all the teams perform here to their fullest to bring honours to their respective countries. However, there have been many controversies in the past regarding the goals that have been scored by sides. Referees and scorers alike, they have faced much criticism as those goals scripted a dark spot on World Cup history.

We take a look at five of these goals which have led to the biggest controversies in the history of the tournament.

5. Frank Lampard Vs Germany (South Africa 2010)

It was a knockout tie in South Africa where England played Germany in Johannesburg. Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski scored two goals in the first half an hour to provide Germany a two-goal lead. Although, Matthew Upson pulled one back for England a few minutes later, a disaster awaited the English only moments later.

This particular incident is considered the biggest blunder at 2010 South Africa

English midfielder Frank Lampard took a thumping shot at goal in the 39 minute which rattled the bottom of the crossbar and bounced inside the goal line only to come back out. However, referee Jorge Larrionda disallowed the goal and the Three Lions went into dismay. 

The incident caused a massive decline in England’s game for the rest of the contest. Meanwhile, Thomas Mueller added to their misery by scoring a brace in the second half as Germany went on to qualify for the quarterfinals.

4. Thierry Henry Vs Republic of Ireland (2009 World Cup Qualifiers)

France had won the first leg of the qualifiers 1-0 against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin. The second leg was to take place in Paris to decide which team progressed to the World Cup.

The goal was later discovered to be a double handball

Robbie Keane broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute for the Green Army in the fixture. Both the sides came close to scoring in the game, but the score remained unchanged till the 90th minute. In the 103rd minute of added time, France won a free-kick near the halfway line. Florent Malouda took the shot and put a lobbed ball inside the box, where Thierry Henry deliberately handled the ball to control it and crossed it to unmanned William Gallas who headed the ball into the back of the net.

The goal was later discovered to be a double handball as well as an offside one. However, the referee allowed the goal, resulting in the Republic of Ireland missing out on South Africa 2010.

3. Geoff Hurst Vs West Germany (England 1966)

In 1966, hosts England played a very exciting draw against the mighty West Germany side at Wembley. Both the teams ticked the scorers' chart in the first 20 minutes itself. This resulted in the game heading into extra-time with the score locked at 2-2 after 90 minutes.

The validation of the goal still remains controversial to this day

In the 103rd minute, Geoff Hurst took a close-range shot in front of goal which resulted in the ball ricocheting after hitting the bottom of the crossbar and being cleared by a German defender. After the incident, referee Gottfried Dienst went on to have a word with his assistant and later allowed the goal.

The German players kept on insisting that the ball did not cross the goal-line, but the decision had already been made. Unfortunately for West Germany, Hurst scored another goal in the 120th minute to bag the first ever hat-trick in a World Cup final by any player and sealed the emphatic 4-2 win for England.


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2. Andreas Brehme Vs Argentina (Italy 1990)

This was a repeat of the 1986 World Cup final between Argentina and West Germany in Rome. The world witnessed one of the most ill-tempered World Cup finals ever as two Argentine players (Pedro Monzon and Gustavo Dezotti) received their marching orders for bookable offences.

The referee's decision to award a penalty kick was criticized all over the world

9-men Argentina defended manfully against a mighty West German attack. In the 85th  minute, as Rudi Voller of West Germany chased a through-ball in the opposition box, Roberto Sensini of Argentina slid in with a hard tackle. It was a subject of debate as whether it was a legal tackle or not, but referee Edgardo Codesal pointed straight to the spot to award a penalty to West Germany.

The Argentine players surrounded the referee, protesting against the decision, but to no avail. Eventually, Andreas Brehme scored from the spot to hand a win to the West Germans.

1. Diego Maradona's Hand of God against England (Mexico 1986)

In the 1986 World Cup, it was an intense fixture in the quarterfinals between Argentina and England in Mexico City. Argentina put in a strong display right from kick-off, but the English defence was good enough to keep Argentina at bay.

The Hand of God is considered as the darkest moment in FIFA World Cup history

In the 51st minute, Diego Maradona deliberately put his hand on a poor clearance in the box off the English goalkeeper Peter Shilton to score. It was a very tight situation as referee Ali Bin Nasser could not decide on whether it was a handball by Maradona or not and eventually allowed the goal.

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Maradona's goal sparked one of the biggest controversies that the footballing world has ever seen. The goal is infamously known as the ‘Hand of God.’ Minutes later, Maradona scored a brilliant solo goal by beating five English players, leaving the spectators in awe. Although, England scored a late goal through Gary Lineker, their fate remained unchanged.

Eventually, Argentina entered the final and defeated West Germany to win the World Cup.