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Rediff.com  » Sports » 10 best moments from Qatar World Cup

10 best moments from Qatar World Cup

December 19, 2022 08:27 IST
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The Qatar World Cup has delivered a rich feast of soccer for the past month, with shocks, great goals, incredible celebrations and record-breaking feats served up by the assembled cast.

Here are 10 of the highlights:

SAUDI ARABIA STUN ARGENTINA

Lionel Messi

IMAGE: Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring Argentina's first goal from the penalty spot against Saudi Arabia. But FIFA's 51st ranked team roared back to claim an astonishing 2-1 victory that will go down as one of the greatest shocks in any sport ever. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Argentina were cruising in their opening Group C game after Lionel Messi scored a first-half penalty. But the Green Falcons swooped after halftime with Saleh Al-Shehri squeezing in a low shot to equalise and five minutes later Salem Al-Dawsari curled in a scorching second to leave Argentina in disbelief and Saudi fans joyously singing 'where is Messi?'.

 

SOUTH KOREA'S NERVOUS WAIT

South Korea

IMAGE: It was captain Son Heung-min who epitomised South Korea's relentless energy with a selfless display against Portugal. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

When Hwang Hee-chan scored a stoppage-time winner for South Korea in their final Group H game the hard part was just starting. The Korean players then had to spend almost 10 agonising minutes in a tight huddle in the centre circle peering at phones, hoping Uruguay would not score another goal against Ghana. Finally, with a last-16 place assured, they sprinted en masse towards their delirious fans.

MAGICAL MESSI BAMBOOZLES CROATIAN GVARDIOL

Such has been the Argentine number 10s impact in Qatar that the seven-time Ballon D'or winner could have multiple entries on the memorable list. But the way he held off Croatia's masked defender Josko Gvardiol, then bamboozled him with an electrifying twist to set up the third goal in a 3-0 semi-final win encapsulated the 35-year-old's genius.

RONALDO EXITS FINAL WORLD CUP IN TEARS

Cristiano Ronaldo

IMAGE: Cristiano Ronaldo walks off the pitch in tears after Morocco knocked Portugal out of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Portugal's talisman became the first male player to score in five World Cups with a penalty against Ghana. But the 37-year-old was subsequently left out of the starting line-up and after he was unable to save his side after coming off the bench in the quarter-final against Morocco he was filmed walking down the tunnel in floods of tears.

FIRST FEMALE REFEREE AT A MEN'S WORLD CUP

Stephanie Frappart

IMAGE: Stephanie Frappart with Captains Manuel Neuer of Germany and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Frenchwoman Stephanie Frappart was handed control of Germany's final Group E clash against Costa Rica, becoming the first female referee to officiate at a men's World Cup.

Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez described it as a big step forward in 'sexist sport' and the 39-year-old Frappart produced a calm and assured display in Germany's victory.

JAPAN HIT BACK TO SHOCK GERMANY

Japan

IMAGE: Late goals by Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano gave Japan an incredible 2-1 comeback victory over Germany in the World Cup. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Before kickoff in their Group E opener Germany's players covered their mouths in protest at FIFA's threat of sanctions against the wearing of the 'OneLove' armband.

At the final whistle they were left gobsmacked after Japan's substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano secured an unlikely 2-1 comeback win for the Samurai Blue whose fans celebrated hard before bagging the litter in the stadium.

MOROCCO'S FANS

Morocco fan

IMAGE: The Moroccan fans have made bigger headlines. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Thousands of them descended on the Arabian Gulf to roar the Atlas Lions and were richly-rewarded as Morocco became the first African and first Arab country to reach the semi-finals.

The noise the red-clad hordes created in the stadiums was deafening and reached fever pitch in the penalty shootout defeat of Spain in the last 16 and against Portugal in the quarter-finals when a cacophony of whistles greeted every touch by the opposition as Morocco protected their 1-0 lead.

GROUP E FINALE MAYHEM

A group that began with Germany losing to Japan and Spain putting seven goals past Costa Rica concluded on a tumultuous night that almost turned the football world upside-down.

Germany needed a win over Costa Rica and for Spain to beat Japan to go through as runners-up, and at halftime that was exactly what was happening. Then everything went mad.

Japan scored twice in three minutes early in the second half and Costa Rica flipped their game against Germany to lead and for four minutes the live table showed Japan and Costa Rica in first and second place with Spain and Germany going home.

Germany ended up winning 4-2 to save Spain's bacon, although they were on the flight home the next day.

MBAPPE DESTROYS POLAND

Kylian Mbappe

IMAGE: Kylian Mbappe was in another league yet again against Poland. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images

Kylian Mbappe has enhanced his reputation as one of the best players in the world in Qatar and the Frenchman was simply unplayable in the last-16 against Poland.

First he set up Olivier Giroud to open the scoring then took matters into his own hands with two sublime finishes to seal a 3-0 win. The speedster was clocked at 35.3kph during the game.

CAMEROON'S ABOUBAKAR SINKS BRAZIL, THEN SENT OFF

Cameroon

IMAGE: Referee Ismail Elfath shows the red card to Vincent Aboubakar after he took off his shirt to celebrate scoring the winning goal for Cameroon. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A manic group phase concluded in almost comical fashion as Cameroon's Vincent Aboubakar scored a stoppage-time winner against an already-qualified Brazil, took his shirt off, and was immediately given a second yellow card by an apologetic referee who shook the player's hand.

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