The 13 Greatest World Cup Goals
The World Cup tournament has seen some of the greatest goals ever scored in it, so at World Soccer we have put together a list of our favourites. In no particular order, we start with arguably the greatest World Cup goal ever scored, Carlos Alberto’s jackhammer of a strike in 1970.
Carlos Alberto – Brazil vs Italy 1970
Widely thought to be the greatest team goal ever, the build up was one of the most sublime goals scored by one of the greatest teams ever. In 1970 Brazil were totally unstoppable as shown by this goal against a tiring Italy side who had shocked Germany in the semi-finals.
During the World Cup Final in 1970, Brazilian forward Tostao retrieved the ball in his own half after an Italian attack, the balsa then recycled between three other men in yellow, and then Clodoaldo jinked his way past three Italian players before passing to Rivelino. He then passes it upfield to Jairzinho who goes inside and finds Pele.
He waits, and then passes the ball at the perfect time to an one-rushing Carlos Alberto who thumps the ball into the back of the net. 4-1, and the World Cup trophy was theirs. They also took sole possession of the Jules Rimet trophy after winning it for the third time.
Diego Maradona – Argentina vs England 1986
Four minutes earlier, Maradona had created controversy by scoring the ‘Hand of God’ goal, but there was little controversy about this moment of sheer genius from the little man. Picking the ball up inside his own half, he pulls off a delightful spin to evade two English defenders, and the a burst of acceleration takes him into the English half. A back-pedalling Terry Butcher can do nothing, and neither can Peter Shilton.
Maradona takes it past him and scores to help his side go on town the World Cup. Often called the ‘goal of the century’ no list is complete without this effort.
Related: Greatest World Cup Matches
Dennis Bergkamp – Holland vs Argentina 1998
The first wonder goal the 1998 Argentina side conceded was against Holland and the genius of Dennis Bergkamp. During this quarter-final extra time looked on the horizon after a Claudio Lopez goal cancelled out Patrick Kluivert’s opener.
But Bergkamp had other ideas. With time almost up, Frank De Boer had the ball inside his own half but played a 60 yard floated pass beautifully to Bergkamp. He brought it down with a sensational touch, took it past Roberto Ayala and then smashed it past Carlos Roa.
Maxi Rodriguez – Argentina vs Mexico 2006
Whilst in extra time, Maxi Rodriguez scored one of the greatest solo goals ever in World Cup play. In the round of 16 against Mexico, Lionel Messi received the ball near the halfway line and passed it inside. He received the ball back after the ball was mis-controlled. He then played it out wide to Juan Pablo Sorin. He then played a beautiful cornfield ball to Rodriguez who took it on his chest and lofted it over the keeper just outside of the penalty area. The football world looked on with amazement as replay after replay was shown of this stunner.
James Rodriguez – Colombia vs Uruguay 2014
Winner of the Puskas Award in 2014, this effort by James Rodriguez of Colombia truly got the worlds attention. Just outside the box, the ball was pinging around and it eventually came to the young forward. Like Maxi Rodriguez above, he took it on his chest and with his left foot struck a shot effortlessly past the keeper and off the crossbar and in.
During the round of 16, the goal put his side 1-0 up against Uruguay. He would score another in the 50th minute to ensure victory.
Esteban Cambiasso – Argentina vs Serbia and Montenegro 2006
This was truly an unbelievable goal. During a group stage match in 2006, Argentina had taken a 1-0 lead after Maxi Rodriguez scored after 6 minutes. Then on the half hour mark, he played a role in setting up one of the best goals ever in the tournament. Rodriguez dispossessed Mateja Kezman just inside his own half and then pass after pass was put together by the Argentinian side. Rodriguez, along with Javier Mascherano, Juan Roman Riquelme and Esteban Cambiasso, all had numerous touches in the move. Eventually it came to Javier Saviola who played a one-two with Riquelme, then passed it on to Cambiasso who found Hernan Crespo in the box. He then played a delightful back heel back to Cambiasso who launched it into the roof of the net. A beautiful goal.
Michael Owen – England vs Argentina 1998
Michael Owen welcomed himself onto the world stage in 1998 with this individual effort. Owen received a diagonal ball from David Beckham, touching it through with a lovely touch by his right foot. Sprinting forward, Owens pace is astounding as he shrugs off Jose Chamot, and then takes it past Matias Almeyda. Paul Scholes arriving on the right hand side, but Owen takes the shot instead lashing the ball home to take a 2-1 lead.
England would go out on penalties later, but Owen’s goal brought him onto the world stage.
Geoff Hurst – England vs West Germany 1966
During the final in 1966 , Hurst had already scored two goals, one of them controversial. But his final goal which secured a 4-2 victory and England’s only World Cup success, may not have been the best build up, but it was a stung strike given the circumstances.
In the last minute of extra time, Hurst received the ball just inside the German half with barely any german defenders in front of him. He surged ahead and then just before a tackle came in, smashed a left-footed shot into the top corner. Kenneth Wolstenholme famously said, “they think its all over, it is now”, when the shot went in.
Marco Tardelli – Italy vs West Germany 1982
Best remembered for his celebration, it is easy to forget about the skill of this goal during the 1982 World Cup final. Italy were 1-0 up courtesy of a Paolo Rossi goal in the 57th minute. 12 minutes later Italy would strike again through Marco Tardelli.
On the counter attack, Italy surged upfield, a Cruyff turn and back heel followed, and the ball would come to Tardelli on the edge of the box. He then struck the ball with his left foot into the bottom right hand corner to go 2-0 up and World Cup glory looked set.
Obviously, his celebration has gown down in World Cup history, but his goal deserves recognition too.
Archie Gemmill – Scotland vs Holland 1978
The World Cup for Scotland in 1978 was not going well. They had lost to Peru, and then drew to Iran which meant they had to beat the Netherlands by three goals. Halfway through the second half, qualification looked possible as they had a 2-1 lead. And it got better for them when Archie Gemmill scored his wonder goal.
Gemmill received the ball in the Dutch half and proceeded to take it past Wim Jansen, Ruud Krol, and Jan Poortvliet and then lofted it over Dutch keeper Jan Jongbloed. It was 3-1 with only one more goal needed. Unfortunately the Dutch scored soon after which made qualification impossible. But regardless, Gemmill’s goal was a beauty.
Saeed Al Owairan – Saudi Arabia vs Belgium 1994
Perhaps the least well known player on this list, Saeed Al Owairan scored an absolute belter during the 1994 World Cup. During the group stages against Belgium, A Owairan picked up the ball in his own half and proceeded to take it past a maze of Belgian players before hammering it over the goalkeeper. It was the games only goal and was one Diego Maradona would have been proud of. The goal was also made even more significant as it helped Saudi Arabia qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament, where they would lose to Sweden in the round of 16.
David Platt – England vs Belgium 1990
During the round of 16, England and Belgium appeared to be heading to penalties. Extra time was dwindling to a close at 0-0 and England had a free kick in the Belgian half. A lofted ball over the top headed towards David Platt and he pulled off an audacious volley in the 119th minute to win the game. England would go on to come fourth in the tournament.
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst – Netherlands vs Uruguay 2010
During the World Cup semi-final between the Netherlands and Uruguay, in the 18th minute Giovanni Van Bronckhorst received the ball inside the Uruguay half. Nothing looked on, but the Dutch defender had other ideas. He unleashed an absolute screamer that went into the top corner of the Uruguay goal. It was the goal of the tournament in 2010, and it is easy to see why. The Netherlands went on to win 3-2 but lost in the final against Spain.
Obviously there are loads of goals we could have included in this list but we had to cut it down somehow. What goals do you think we have missed?
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