World Cup Intel: The Craziest Moments In The History Of The Tournament

The World Cup is one of the greatest sporting events the world has ever seen. Every four years moments are created that will live forever in history. A true world event, over one billion people watch the final match every year.

With stakes so high, players lay their bodies on the line for greatness. Blood is spilled and legacies are made. When all is said and done, one country will stand proud, with the rest heartbroken. Read along to relive the greatest moments and best matches in World Cup history. You won’t believe how Russia pulled off the biggest upset in World Cup History in 2018!

Zidane’s Headbutt Heard ‘Round The World

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In his last professional match, Zinedine Zidane turned around in the 110th minute and headbutted an opposing player in the chest. The violent outburst resulted in a red card for the Frenchmen. For the last ten minutes of the match, France played a man down and somehow held Italy scoreless, forcing a shootout.

Italy won the shootout and the World Cup. Zidane ended his career in disgrace. France hasn’t returned to the World Cup Final since. Zidane turned his attention to coaching and won the 2018 Champions League Cup with Real Madrid. He resigned after the title win.

Uruguay Bets Brazil 2-1 To Win The Cup

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In 1950, Brazil was heavily favored to beat Uruguay and win the World Cup. Uruguay had other plans, confidently beating Brazil 2-1 and winning their second title. Brazil had beaten Spain 7-1 and Sweden 6-1 before hitting their brick wall. Brazilian newspapers even printed World Cup victory editions and sold them before the match.

The match was held in front of a record crowd of 200,000 people in Brazil (the host country). The format in 1950 presented the final as a group stage. Because of their two blowouts, Brazil only needed a draw to win. They scored first, then let Uruguay score two game-deciding goals near the end of regulation. Coming up, we thought you couldn’t score a goal with your hands!

Argentina’s “Hand Of God” Goal Against England

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Argentinian player Diego Maradona once scored an improbable goal using his hands against England. Refs failed to see his “Hand of God” play and allowed the goal. The score gave Argentina the lead and they never gave it up.

Later in the game, Maradona scored “the goal of the century,” dribbling around five English players before dispensing the ball in the back of the net. The goal assured Argentina a victory, but the handball is what England has been fuming about since 1986. Maybe 2018 will change things!

Italy Overcomes Germany 2-0 In 2006

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The year was 2006 and Italy was playing Germany in the World Cup semi-finals. The game pushed into the second period of overtime and a shootout was just around the corner. Desperate to win, Italy scored two goals, one from Grosso and another from Del Piero just before the whistle blew.

Italy was reportedly motivated to score the late goals because Germany was the best shootout team that year. The win propelled Italy to the World Cup final against France. This match did go to a shootout and Italy won its fourth world championship. Coming up, that time a referee blew a whistle early against Brazil just before the ball went in the net

Brazil’s Winning Goal That Wasn’t

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Playing Sweden in 1978, Brazil should have scored the game-winning goal. Referees disallowed the goal, blowing the game whistle before the ball slipped past the goalie. The first stage game ended in a tie and Brazil had a serious complaint on the on their hands.

The “goal” came on a corner kick. After knocking the ball back into play, the whistle blew. Less than a second later a header by Zico landed in the back of the net. Plays, especially set-pieces, are usually allowed to be finished before the whistle sounds. Then again, this might be the least controversial event from this World Cup!

England Hoists The Cup For The First And Only Time

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Hosting the World Cup in 1966, England found themselves in the final against West Germany. Both teams came out fighting, and the amazing match pushed into overtime with the score tied 2-2. In the 101st minute, English star Geoff Hurst kicked a shot off the crossbar and it landed on the line.

The linesman, however, declared the ball crossed the line and called the shot a goal. England took a very controversial 3-2 lead. Near the end of the match, England scored again to seal the victory. Since then, they have never made it past the quarterfinals. Next, the story of how Pickles the dog found the 1966 stolen World Cup Trophy!

Pickles The Dog Finds The Stolen World Cup Trophy

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The 1966 World Cup is known for more than just England winning their only title. Before the final, the trophy was stolen and then found on the side of the road by Pickles the dog. Seven days before the recovery, the thieves left a message with Chelsea F.C. demanding ransom.

The culprits were never caught and a replica trophy had to be made. Pickles was on a walk when he found the trophy buried in a garden hedge. He instantly became a hero in England. His heroic collar is currently on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

Russia Shocks Spain And The World In Penalty Kicks In 2018

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Coming into the 2018 World Cup, Russia was the 70th ranked team in the world. They weren’t expected to make it out of the group stage, let alone force their way into the Quarterfinal! That’s exactly what happened after they beat Spain in the biggest upset in World Cup history!

So what exactly happened? Simply enough, the played defense. Spain couldn’t break through their brick wall and the match went a full 120 minutes and into penalty kicks. Russia was perfect while Spain missed two shots. All of Russia was reportedly hungover the next morning.

England And Argentina Literally Beat Each Up In 1998

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This match between England and Argentina is remembered for how brutally each team fought. Most famously, David Beckham took out an Argentinian player just after half-time and was given a red card. The face of English soccer was 23-years-old at the time. After that, it was clear England was using the match as a revenge game.

England had never recovered from the “Hand of God” goal and took out their aggression in back-breaking fashion. The problem is, they almost broke their own backs in the process. With Beckham out, the team looked sure to lose. They successfully kept Argentina scoreless and forced a penalty shootout. Argentina won and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Wayne Rooney Goes Private Hunting In 2006

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Wayne Rooney was given a red card against Portugal in 2006 after stomping on an opponent’s private parts. He claimed the stomach-churning act was accidental. Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo ran to his teammate’s aid and urged the referee to disqualify Rooney.

When Rooney was kicked off the pitch, Ronaldo turned to his bench and winked. Playing a man down, England forced a penalty shootout. The deciding goal was kicked by Ronaldo. Like their 1998 bout with Argentina, luck was England’s friend that day! As you’re about to see, luck was also Senegal’s best friend in 2002!

Senegal Gives France The Boot

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In 2002, Senegal shocked the world by beating France in the country’s first ever World Cup appearance. France, who had won the tournament in 1998, failed to make it out of the group stage. Senegal advanced to the tournament quarterfinal before losing to Turkey.

The 1-0 defeat of France spelled doom for the country. In two other group stage matches, they failed to score a single goal. Senegal will play for the second time in the World Cup in 2018. Here’s to hoping they surprise the world again!

Four Red Cards Awarded In Battle Of Nuremberg

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FIFA handed out a record four red cards and 16 yellow cards in the 2006 match between Portugal and the Netherlands. The bloody match has since been nicknamed “The Battle of Nuremberg.” Portugal advanced to the quarterfinals but was undermanned because of multiple suspensions.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the referee should have given himself a yellow card for his embarrassing performance. He never refereed another match. Not because of his performance, though. He actually reached the required retirement age of 45!

Argentina Knocked Out By Romania In 1994

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Argentina landed on American soil in 1994 expecting to win their first World Cup title since 1986. Romania had other plans. The teams matched up in the first stage in the blistering heat of Pasadena, California. Romania started hot and finished hot, beating Argentina 3-2.

If Argentina had its star player, Diego Maradona, the results may have been different. Maradona was sent home before the match after failing a drug test. Argentina enters the 2018 World Cup looking still looking for their first title since the 1980s. Up next, that time the United States and Iran learned to get along!

The United States And Iran Find Peace On The Pitch

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In 1998, the United States and Iran had a terrible relationship, but they put politics aside for unity at the World Cup. Drawn into the same group stage, France increased security for the match, expecting increased violence. Instead, the teams posed together for pictures and exchanged gifts at mid-field.

Iran beat the United States 2-1 in a result that didn’t matter. Neither team reached the knockout round. They did, however, show the world how political squabbles can be put aside for the greater good. Maybe Argentina and England should take notes!

Brazil’s Unstoppable Offense Meets Italy’s Immovable Defense

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Few matches in World Cup history have been as highly touted as Brazil’s loss to Italy in 1982. At the time, analysts called Brazil the best team ever. They proved them right, gliding through the tournament with ease. Italy, on the other hand, started the World Cup slowly before forming a brick wall of a defense.

When they met, Italy scored first, followed by Brazil, then Italy again. Brazil needed a draw to advance and tied the game with 16 minutes left. Italy kept attacking, and with time running out, scored. Argentina was stunned and Italy went on to win the cup. Keep reading to learn about the first ever World Cup!

Uruguay Hosts The First World Cup In 1930

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The World Cup held its first ever tournament in 1930. Uruguay hosted the 13-team inaugural competition. Fans filled the stadium when Uruguay and Argentina met in the final. In the 89th minute, Uruguay scored a cup deciding goal. The country broke out in celebration and declared the next day a holiday.

Fans in Argentina showed their frustration with violence. They threw stones at the Uruguayan consult in protest! Sports really brings out the worst in people sometimes! The World Cup has been held every four years since (except during times of world conflict).

Giorgio Ferrini Escorted Off The Field By Police In 1962

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Giorgio Ferrini was given a red card 12 minutes into a 1962 group stage match for punching another player. He refused to leave the pitch and was ultimately escorted off by police. The match between Italy and Chile lives in World Cup infamy as “The Battle of Santiago.”

In the second half, several fights broke out between the teams. Police had to intervene three times to settle things back down. British commentator David Coleman called the game, “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.”

Hungary Trounces El Salvador 10-1

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Hungary crushed El Salvador 10-1 in a 1982 World Cup result thought to be impossible. Taking place in the group stage, Hungary started hot and never cooled down. El Salvador froze completely. The country has not qualified for a World Cup since.

El Salvador’s only goal came from Luis Zapata. It remains the only goal El Salvador ever scored, despite playing multiple matches in the group stage. Hungary, up 5-1 at the time of the goal, kept attacking, proving that double digits were not a Wolrd Cup fever dream. It’s just not a very nice thing to do!

Gordon Banks Denies Pele

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Gordon Banks is credited with the greatest save in World Cup history after rejecting a shot from Pele in 1970. Pele, one of the all-time best scorers, took a cross off his head into the corner of the net. Banks somehow got down and knocked the ball away. He walked back to his position like an action star after an explosion.

Pele called the save the best he’d ever seen. Unfortunately, Banks and England ended the match on the losing side. Worse for England, Banks got sick after the match and missed the next game; another English loss. Up next, Spain wins the World Cup for the first time!

Spain Breaks Through To Win It All In 2010

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An international soccer powerhouse, Spain had never won a World Cup title until 2010. Their breakthrough to glory wasn’t easy. Facing Holland in the final, the match went into extra time. In the 109th minute, bad luck struck Holland when John Heitinga was given his second yellow card of the match.

With four minutes remaining Spain pushed through the defense. No one on Holland picked up Andres Iniesta, who took a pass and shot it into the back of the net. Holland protested the goal. They argued a corner should have been award to them earlier in play. They lost the protest and Spain stood alone at the top of world soccer podium.

Johann Cruyff Turns His Opponent Around

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Johann Cruyff taking a ball for the Netherlands in a match against Sweden and turning his opponent around is one of the trickiest plays you’ll ever see. Back turned to Jan Olsonn, Cruyff spun around and in one sweep of his leg faked a pass and brought the ball back inside for a cross.

Olsonn turned to look where the fake pass went. Cruyff pulled left into the open area and crossed the ball into the box. The game ended 0-0 and is only remembered for Cruyff’s trickery. The move is now known as “Cruyff’s Turn” and is practiced worldwide.

West Germany Brings The Country Back Together In 1954

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Divided into two countries, West Germany helped reunite a broken nation by winning the World Cup in 1954. Still recovering from WWII, German citizens looked to the World Cup for hope. The team faced an uphill battle and managed to advance to the final. Their opponent was Hungary, the best team in the world.

Hungary jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but West Germany refused to quit. They fought back and scored two goals to tie the game. Then, with six minutes left, Helmut Rahn scored the go-ahead goal. Hungary failed to answer back and West Germany gave their countrymen something to celebrate for the first time in years. Still to come, that time Zidane used his head to score goals instead of inflicting pain!

Zidane Uses His Head For Good Instead Of Evil

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Eight years before using his head to end his career, Zinedine Zidane used it to score goals and win the World Cup. Zidane scored two goals off headers in the 1998 World Cup Final and France won its first and only world title. He became the first player since 1978 to score two goals in the final.s

Zidane’s majestic performance didn’t come without controversy, though. Earlier in the World Cup, he was suspended for two matches for stomping on a Saudi Arabian player. France survived without him and soared upon his return.

The Original Ronaldo Gets His Revenge

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Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldo silenced his critics in 2002 with an epic World Cup performance. He scored eight goals in the tournament, including two in the final, to win the Golden Boot and World Cup title. Before then, critics claimed he couldn’t stand up to the pressure of international competition.

The unwarranted criticism came after a poor 1998 World Cup Final performance. Ronaldo played a crucial match despite having a seizure hours before the game. Flash forward to 2002. Ronaldo returned from a devastating knee injury to play the tournament. His toughness was never questioned again.

Goyocochea Carries Argentina To The 1990 Finals

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Sergio Goyocochea became the starting goalie for an aging Argentina team in 1990 and carried them to the final. The epic performance included save after save as Argentina’s older and slower defense continuously broke down. Several matches ended in penalty shootouts.

Goyocochea’s magic, unfortunately, would only carry Argentina so far. They lost to West Germany in the final. The match ended 1-0 after West Germany scored on a penalty kick. To this day, few World Cup performances deserved to win the title more than Goyocochea’s! Next, a surprising performance by North Korea!

North Korea Beats Italy To Make The Quarterfinals

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When North Korea made it to the quarterfinals of the 1966 World Cup, beating Italy in the group stage to get there and their participation was controversial. The host country, England, refused to recognize them as a nation. In protest, they tried to ban North Korea from having their flag at any matches.

Before their opening match against the Soviet Union, England relented and North Korea was allowed to use their flag. They got crushed 3-0 in the match, then bounced back to draw with Chile. To get out of the group stage they had to beat Italy. Pak Doo-Ilk scored the only goal of the game and the rest if history!

The United States Finally Beat Ghana, Its World Cup Kryptonite

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The United States beat Ghana 2-1 in a revenge game against the team that knocked them out of the 2010 World Cup. Clint Dempsey scored the fastest goal in USMNT history to set the tone. Ghana tied the game in the 82nd minutes, but the determined Americans scored four minutes later to re-take the lead.

The victory came after two heartbreaking tournament losses to Ghana in the previous two World Cups. The United States advanced to the knockout stage but lost to Belgium in the first round. The Americans have never finished higher than the quarterfinals. Coming up, the United States gets a new Secretary of Defense, and you won’t believe who it is!

Tim Howard Becomes The Secretary Of Defense

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The highlight for the United States during their 2014 World Cup run was the defense of goalie Tim Howard. Howard left his mark on the tournament and became known as the “Secretary of Defense.” The government position’s page on Wikipedia was even briefly changed to reflect this!

Other over the top reactions stateside were petitions to rename airports and entire states in his honor. Without Tim Howard protecting the goal, the USMNT failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. It’s going to be a long wait for 2022!

South Korea Strike Gold With A Late Goal

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South Korea scored a “golden goal” in extra time to advance to the quarterfinals in 2002 and send their country into a frenzy. Hosting the tournament that year, South Korea faced a tough Italian team in the first round of the knockout stage. Christian Vieri struck first for Italy, giving his team a 1-0 lead 18 minutes in the match.

In the 88th minute, South Korea broke through, scoring an extra time forcing goal. With three minutes left, they struck again, ending the match. Known as a “golden goal,” 2002 was the last year the rule was used. South Korea went on to beat Spain and advance to the semifinals, where they lost to Germany.

England Falls To America In One Of The Biggest Upsets Ever

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In 1950, the United States upset England with a team full of semi-professionals in one of the biggest World Cup upsets ever witnessed. England was favored to win the tournament. They had gone 23-4-3 in international play since the end of WWII. The United States barely managed to put a team together and qualify.

The upset stunned the crowd. Americans in attendance rushed onto the field. The United States failed to carry their momentum into their next match against Chile, though and got thumped 5-2. England failed to recover from the loss, losing their next match against Spain with a final score of 1-0. Next, Just Fontaine gets the respect he deserves 60 years too late!

Just Fontaine Sets The World Cup Goal Record In 1958

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Just Fontaine’s record 13 World Cup goals record is one that still stands strong 60 years after he accomplished the feat. Sadly, his incredible performance that year was upstaged by soccer legend Pele. Pele scored two goals in the final to help Brazil beat Sweden. Fontaine played for France, and maybe if his team had advanced further he would be rightfully remembered.

Fontaine played in one World Cup. His performance was so epic he is fourth all-time for goals scored. He scored a goal in every match France played on his path to becoming a historical sidenote. Showing respect, Pele ranked Fontaine as one of the world’s greatest soccer stars in 2004.

West Germany Meets East Germany During The Cold War

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West Germany had the distinct honor of hosting the World Cup in 1974 during the Cold War. One of the favorites to win the tournament, it was only fitting they would play East Germany in the first round. Tensions at the match were at an all-time high as East German socialists clashed with the capitalist West Germans.

East Germany scored a late goal to take a 1-0 lead and that stood as the end result. West Germany managed to qualify for the next round and won the tournament. East Germany used the shocking victory as propaganda to show how their “superiority” over their western rivals.

Argentina Wins Its First World Cup, But Did They Really?

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The 1978 World Cup is one of the most controversial tournaments the world has ever seen. Overrun by a military dictatorship two years before hosting the event, there was immense pressure on Argentina to take home the trophy. They did, beating Peru in the final, but plenty of questions about the legitimacy arose after.

Because of the government in Argentina, several superstars refused to play. This included two of Holland’s stars (Argentina beat Holland in the final). Earlier in the tournament, Argentina needed to beat Peru 4-0 to advance to the second round. They won 6-0 in a match the Peruvian goalkeeper has implied he was bribed to lose. Coming up, Ireland makes a splash at the big show!

The Luck Of The Irish Isn’t Just A Saying

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In 1990, Ireland qualified for its first ever World Cup. Hosted by Egypt, Irish supporters flocked to the country to show their support. Ireland was never considered a threat to advance beyond the group stage. After three straight draws, they surprisingly snuck through to the delight of their contingent.

Their first opponent in the knockout round was Romania. After 120 minutes the teams went to a penalty shootout. Ireland won five goals to four. The quarterfinals pitted them against a much tougher Italy team. The match sent Ireland back to their homeland. They lost 1-0, but that didn’t stop the country from partying!

Cameroon Breaks Down Barriers… And Argentina!

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Cameroon was the first African nation to ever qualify for the World Cup in 1990. Unluckily, they played Argentina in their first ever match. The intense match was scoreless when disaster struck in the 61st minute; Kana-Biyik was given a red card.

Playing a man down, Cameroon scored a shocking late goal and won. Argentinian star Diego Maradona called the match a victory against prejudice. Cameroon carried their momentum all the way to the to quarterfinals, where they lost to England 3-2. Keep reading to learn how bad one referee screwed up during the same World Cup!

Paul Gascoigne Breaks Down In Tears Because Of Bad Reffing

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Paul Gascoigne was the beating heart of English soccer during the 1990 World Cup. The heart stopped when he was given a yellow card during the semifinal. It was his second yellow card of the card of the tournament, officially disqualifying him for the final if England advanced.

The call came thanks to a great piece of acting by Thomas Berthold. Gascoigne challenged him, and Berthold fell over with minimal contact and writhed in pain. The call destroyed Gascoigne, who broke down in tears on the pitch. Deflated, England lost the match in a penalty shootout.

Kuwait Stops Playing After France Scores Too Many Goals

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The Kuwait team walked to the sideline after France scored a goal late in a 1982 match to increase their lead to 4-1. Before the goal, a whistle blew from the crowd. Kuwait stopped, thinking the play was dead; France continued and scored. The manager for Kuwait instructed his team to leave the field in protest.

Referees met Kuwait on the sidelines to try and get the team back on the field. Ultimately, Kuwait’s Sheikh came down to the pitch and demanded the goal be disallowed. The referees gave in and restarted the game 3-1. France scored another goal and won 4-1. There were no protests by Kuwait this time.

The Referee FINALLY Gets One Right!

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Esse Baharmast, an American official, got a controversial call right in 1998 even though the world believed he was wrong. During a match between Brazil and Norway, Baharmist called a penalty in the box against Morocco. Norway made the penalty kick and won the game.

No camera angles showed a penalty had been committed and Baharmast became a media punching bag. Still, he said he would make the same call every time. Days later a Sweden broadcast uncovered an angle no one else had shown. The angle clearly showed the Moroccan player grab the Norwegian player by the jersey and pull him down. Next, that time no penalty was called after a player had to be stretchered off the pitch.

Harald Schumacher Rewarded For Knocking Opponent Unconscious

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A 1982 match between France and Germany turned ugly when germen keeper Harald Schumacher knocked out a charging French player. Patrick Battiston broke free to score an easy goal when Schumacher tackled him. He fell to the ground unconscious and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.

For his violent act, Schumacher was given zero punishment. Shockingly, Germany was rewarded with a goal kick on the play! Germany won the match in a penalty shootout. Sometimes soccer just doesn’t make sense!

Archie Gemmill’s Impossible Goal Is Worth The Price Of Admission

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Scotland played Holland in a 1978 match they needed to win by three scores to advance. Leading 2-1 and desperate, undersized Scotsman Archie Gemmill darted through several defensive players and scored. The incredible goal gave Scotland a 3-1 lead, and more importantly, hope.

Hope ended in heartbreak when Holland scored, making the score 3-2. Scotland was eliminated from the tournament. The goal is remembered as one of the greatest in World Cup history, despite the result.

Russian Striker Oleg Salenko Scores Five Goals In One Match

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Oleg Salenko had perhaps the greatest single game performance in history scoring five goals in one match. Russia was taking on Cameroon in 1990 when the amazing feat occurred. The five-goal effort put Cameroon to sleep, who lost 6-1.

Maybe Salenko should have saved a few goals, though. Russia failed to make it past the group stage while Cameroon turned into the surprise of the World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals. At least Salenko was awarded the golden boot for most goals in the tournament. That’s a nice consolation prize!