Quick Reads

Top 10 most iconic goals scored in FIFA World Cup history

Rohan Agarwal

November 22 2021
FIFA World Cup

The quadrennial event have experienced many memorable goals over the years.

The FIFA World Cup is football’s most prestigious tournament. The best players from all around the world come together to compete for the pride of their nation. It is a tournament of high emotion, an incredible amount of energy and everything at stake. The World Cup is never short of drama and incredible goals. These goals help write stories about the greatest of moments and are also a display of skills.

Here we take a look at 10 of the best goals scored in the history of the FIFA World Cup.

10. Zinedine Zidane Vs Italy (2006)

WATCH: The penalty in the 2006 final was the last goal in Zidane’s career

Even though it’s a penalty, Zinedine Zidane’s strike in the 2006 World Cup final remains to be an memorable goal in one of the World Cup’s most iconic matches ever.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup final was Zidane’s last professional match. Despite the infamous moment of his headbutt on Marco Materazzi, Zidane’s performance until full-time was as expected – simply spectacular. His Panenka-style penalty in the early moments of the game that narrowly crossed the goal-line is one of the World Cup’s most iconic goals of all-time. It was a display of skill that required immense confidence.

9. Siphiwe Tshabalala Vs Mexico (2010)

WATCH: Tshabalala scored the first goal of the 2010 FIFA World Cup

The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is one of the most exciting editions in recent history for all the great moments and songs it gave us. Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal in the first game of the World Cup in front of the home crowd was the perfect inauguration of the first tournament on African turf.

The home side turned the ball over in their own half and hit the Mexicans with a fast counter-attack. Tshabalala was played in behind the Mexican defence. The winger took a few touches and smashed the ball into the top corner of the goal from the edge of the box. The home crowd was left in a frenzy as they celebrated the opening goal of the tournament.

8. Esteban Cambiasso Vs Serbia and Montenegro (2006)
WATCH: Cambiasso completed a great team goal against Serbia and Montenegro in the 2006 World Cup

One of the greatest team goals to have ever been scored at the tournament has to be Esteban Cambiasso’s goal in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Argentina’s goal versus Serbia and Montenegro was a perfect display of patient build-up play and the art of waiting for the right moment to play the decisive final pass.

A perfect one-two combination between Cambiasso and Hernan Crespo, involving a deft backheel assist set up a perfect team goal for Argentina in their 6-0 drubbing of the European nation.

7. Cristiano Ronaldo Vs Spain (2018)

WATCH: Ronaldo’s sensational free-kick vs Spain in the 2018 FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup is the biggest stage in football as a sport. At a tournament which is known for its big moments, who else to include if not Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar has a knack for being calm and collected in the biggest of moments and to always deliver. On the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, Ronaldo did not fail to entertain as well. A stunning freekick in the final minutes of the game was one of the most iconic moments of that tournament.

His freekick at the 88th minute, not only completed his hat-trick but also helped Portugal equalize the score against Spain.

6. Michael Owen Vs Argentina (1998)
WATCH: Michael Owen scores wondergoal vs Argentina in the 1998 FIFA World Cup

In 1998, Michael Owen became the youngest player to play in a World Cup and also become the youngest goalscorer at the age of 18 years and 190 days.

His goal against Argentina was a statement-making strike. The young striker announced himself to the world with a splendid solo strike. A great pass from David Beckham and a perfect first touch from Owen onto his stride set up the goal. Owen dribbled past his opponent with ease and finished with terrific composure into the top corner. England went on to lose on penalties but Owen’s goal still remains iconic.

5. Benjamin Pavard Vs Argentina (2018)

WATCH: Benjamin Pavard’s unreal volley against Argentina

Benjamin Pavard’s spectacular volley was the goal of the tournament in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The French right-back’s strike into the top of the box initiated the comeback in what was arguably the best match of the tournament.

France went on to become eventual champions and the result against Argentina in the Round of 16 was key. Pavard, 22 at the time, truly announced himself to the world and boosted Didier Deschamps’ credentials for picking him as a starter. The right-back demonstrated incredible technique and power for a goal that will go down in history.

4. Maxi Rodriguez Vs Mexico (2006)
WATCH: Maxi Rodriguez’s extra time winner vs Mexico in the 2006 FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup 2006 is known for a lot of things but this splendid strike from Maxi Rodriguez is one that goes under the radar. Extra-time winners are always special. But when they are scored in a manner such as Maxi Rodriguez did, they go down in history.

The Argentine winger collected the ball with his chest at the right corner of the box. He then struck the ball with conviction into the top corner. It was truly a special strike to send Argentina into the quarter-final.

3. Robin Van Persie Vs Spain (2014)
WATCH: Robin Van Persie’s iconic flying header Vs Spain

Robin Van Persie’s header versus defending champions Spain in the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is a goal that remains fresh in the memories of many. It was a deft, precise and looping header that left Iker Casillas in no-man’s land. It was Daley Blind who found the striker behind Sergio Ramos with a stunning pass.

Van Persie made no mistake and equalised the score, earning him the nickname ‘The Flying Dutchman’. The iconic goal was succeeded with the iconic high-five between Van Persie and Louis Van Gaal. Van Persie’s header was a finalist for the Puskas Award in 2014.

2. James Rodriguez Vs Uruguay (2014)

WATCH: Rodriguez’s goal earned him the Puskas Award in 2014

23-year-old James Rodriguez announced himself in style at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The Colombian attacking midfielder led the charge for his nation, guiding them to an impressive quarter-final finish where they lost to hosts Brazil.

James was a revelation. With six goals and two assists to his name, he was the golden boot winner of the tournament. His scintillating volley against Uruguay in the round of 16 was one of the greatest goals in the history of the tournament. James’ goal went on to win the Puskas Award in 2014.  

1. Diego Maradona Vs England (1986)

WATCH: Diego Maradona’s goal of the century at the 1986 World Cup

Diego Maradona’s purposeful run from inside his own half is arguably the greatest goal to have ever been scored in the history of the FIFA World Cup. The little Argentine received the ball under pressure, evaded his opponents with a deft turn and accelerated like no other. The impressive close control at such high speed with a precise finish requires a lot of skill. Very few players are capable of doing what Diego Maradona did. Moreover, to do it at the biggest stage against a team like England is even more special.

Surprisingly, despite being labelled as the ‘Goal of the Century’, it was still not the most iconic moment from this eventful match as it was overshadowed by the ‘Hand of God’ goal. Argentina won the game 2-1 and went on to win the World Cup later as well.

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