World cup 2018 had lots of great moments that reminded us of the beautiful game of football, as to why it is the most popular sport in the world. It had many moments that were worthy of mentioning as the highlight and discussing as the talking point, as they truly lived up to the standards of the beautiful game. Despite that, there were some moments that did not get the deserved attention or went unnoticed.
Here are some of those moments:
1.Double whammy in the opener
The hosts were off to a dream start in the opening match against Saudi Arabia, and it was the kind of performance that the nation wanted to see, as the Russians thumped the Saudi Arabians with a 5-0 victory. But what stood out in this game was the last two goals by Denis Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin. The technique, power and placement were just impeccable. Definitely, two of the underrated goals of the tournament.
2.Morocco vs Iran: Late winner..erm own goal
It is always heart-breaking to see your opponent score in the final moments and steal the game away from you. But what’s worse? Morocco fans would know the answer. It was in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Aziz Bouhaddouz broke the deadlock, but by finding his own net, to give Iranians all three points. That one moment of misfortune will haunt the veteran for life.
3. Portugal vs Spain: Nacho’s thunderbolt
Goals? Screamers? Goalkeeping howlers? Late equaliser? Hat-trick heroes? This match had it all.
The match began with a controversial penalty decision that went in Portugal’s favour, which was converted by, you know who, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s second goal was of a goalkeeping howler, as arguably, the best goalkeeper in the world, David de Gea got his basics completely wrong as it seemed like he took his eyes of the ball at the last moment.
Diego Costa scored twice in the game to bring Spain back from one goal deficit on both occasions, but their third goal was a thing of beauty. Nacho Fernandez didn’t just put Spain ahead, but also scored one of the goals of the tournament. The full-back came charging in to the lose ball and blasted it to the inside of the far post, from 20 yards out. Rui Patricio could only watch the ball thud into the woodwork and find the net. It was a thing of beauty!
When it just looked like Spaniards were taking all three points, Portugal won a free kick at the edge of the box and it was all down to one man, Cristiano Ronaldo. With only two minutes of regulation time remaining, the Portuguese skipper produced one, straight of the top drawer, to the top corner, around the wall to find the net.
This was a match that was meant for the neutrals. It had a perfect script.
4.France vs Australia: A moment of brain fade
This was quite an eventful match as VAR was consulted for the first time in the tournament and later on, even goal-line technology came into action.
But for me, a moment of madness from French defender, Samuel Umtiti, was what caught my eyes. Just few minutes after Antoine Griezmann scored from the spot to put France ahead in the 58th minute, Samuel Umtiti’s blatant handball in the box left referee with no doubts, but to award another penalty, but this time on the other side of the pitch.
Despite Australia scoring from the penalty, France had to sweat it out to score their second and take all three points. This incident would have been much more talked had France taken anything less than three points. Good save, Samuel.
5. Denmark vs Peru: Maldini? Nesta? Lahm? It’s Kjaer!
In this match, Peru would have considered themselves extremely unlucky to not just not have gotten a goal, but also to not have gotten a point. They had more shots, shots on target, possession and clear goal scoring opportunities, only to find themselves on the losing side. But what stood out for me was what happened in the 29th minute of the game, when the Danish skipper, Simon Kjaer came up with a heroic block and unleashed his inner Maldini to rescue his team from trailing 1-0. That is another very underrated moment of the tournament.
6. Costa Rica vs Serbia: Matic piqued
Nemanja Matic is known for his calmness and composure with or without the ball. Definitely not someone you would relate with when you hear the word ‘angry’. This was one such rare moment when he lost his cool. (Or maybe he was just running down the clock. They were winning anyway)
7. England vs Tunisia: A bit of football and a bit of wrestling
This was the match where the Three Lions announced themselves to the world in the tournament. The young English team showed a lot of promise from the very first minute of the tournament. Clearly, they weren’t there to just fool around.
In the 51st minute of the match, Tunisia showed one of the ways to keep Harry Kane quiet, as he was wrestled and pinned down to the ground by the Tunisian defender, Yassine Meriah, in a corner. Apparently, that’s an effective way to keep the Englishman quiet, as that was the second time in the game he was at the receiving end of something similar. But in the referee’s eyes, they were just not penalties.
Strangely, the referee, earlier in the game, awarded one of the softest penalties to Tunisia, with an English player going into the books. In referee’s defence, it was just a yellow card and a penalty. Fair play ref!
8. Russia vs Egypt: El-Shenawy’s goalkeeping howler
One of the first things that a goalkeeper should learn is to catch the ball. One of the most basic things that a goalkeeper should know is to judge when to parry or catch. If you don’t get that judgement right, it could prove disastrous to your team. The Egypt goalkeeper, Mohamed El-Shenawy had one such moment of indecision and lack of judgement, and it did prove extremely disastrous for the Egyptians as the ball went straight into the enemy’s hands (legs in this case) and led to a goal, after he parried what looked like a straight-forward ball from a misplaced cross, with no pressure from the opponents around him. From what looked like a deadlock till that point, Egyptians went on to concede two more goals after that defensive disaster, before Mohamed Salah scored a consolation goal to make it 3-1 for Russia. And it was curtains for Egypt, as the last game was a dead rubber.
Watch the goal here Fathy own goal
9. Portugal vs Morocco: Gordon Banks-esque from Rui Patricio
There were many great saves in the tournament. But this save by Rui Patricio against Morocco was a jaw-dropper. In the 57th minute, a bouncing header, directed towards the far post, the header that had everything a textbook would suggest, was going into the Portuguese goal. But the Portuguese shot-stopper didn’t only reach for it with super reflexes, also fisted it over the cross-bar with a strong bottom hand. Very Gordon Banks-like!
10. Nigeria vs Iceland: Musa all the way
Ahmed Musa’s performance against Iceland must be one of the best individual, yet one of the most underrated performances in the tournament, which is why it makes the list. Musa scored a memorable brace, as he scored two breathtakingly brilliant goals in a must-win match for Nigeria to keep them alive in the tournament. He just ran the show in the second half.