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Top 10 Classic World Cup moments

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With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil fast approaching, Scotzine looks back through the archives to select the top ten classic World Cup moments.

We will leave you to list them in order, but here are our top ten moments throughout the history of the World Cup.

Hand of God

Maradona’s Hand of God goal is arguably the most famous and infamous moment of any World Cup. The little Argentine, one of the greatest footballers of all time, caused controversy and still does with the first goal of their 1986 game against England.

Six minutes into the second half, Maradona cut inside from the left playing a diagonal low pass to the edge of the area to Jorge Valdano and continued his run in the hope of receiving the ball again. England’s Steve Hodge tried to hook the ball clear but miscued it into the penalty area, towards Maradona.

England goalkeeper Peter Shilton came out of his goal to punch the ball clear. However, Maradona, despite being smaller beat Shilton to the ball knocked the ball into the goals with his left hand. Despite much protestation from the England players, the goal stood.

At the post-match press conference, Maradona was quoted as saying that the goal was scored “un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios” (“a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”).

To this day Maradona infuriates and makes English fans angry. However, the little Argentine was forever dubbed ‘McMaradona’ by some Tartan Army fans in honour of his goal.

Archie Gemmill’s solo goal

Scottish football fans have not had much to cheer about at the World Cup – when they have reached it that is – but what they can shout out loud and proud about is one of the greatest ever World Cup goals being scored by a Scot.

In Scotland’s Group D game in the 1978 World Cup against the Netherlands, a win by three goals was needed to qualify for the next stage of the competition. With Scotland leading 2-1 after 68 minutes, Nottingham Forest’s Archie Gemmill scored a superb solo goal, described as ‘an extraordinary goal and an extraordinary moment.’

Sadly for Scotland, three minutes later the Dutch scored their second of the game through Johnny Rep and the game ended 3-2, denying the Scots a place in the second round of the competition for the first time ever.

Holland made it all the way to the finals, where they were beaten 3-1 after extra time by hosts Argentina.

Paul Gascoigne’s tears

England reached the semi finals of the World Cup in 1990, where they would face arch nemesis West Germany.

The game went to extra time after the score was 1-1 during the 90 minutes. During the second half of extra time, one of the most memorable moments of Italy ’90 occurred as Paul Gascoigne broke down in tears after receiving a booking which would have seen him miss the final if England had reached it.

Extra time finished and the game went to penalties, where England once again lost out to the Germans. For all of his talents on the park, Gascoigne will forever be remembered for this moment and what he has done off the park since.

Harald Schumacher’s art of goalkeeping

Arguably the worst tackle in World Cup history occurred during one of the greatest games in the history of the competition. During the 1982 semi final between Germany and France – which went to a penalty shootout with the Germans progressing – an infamous clash between German keeper Harald Schumacher and France’s Patrick Battiston took place.

Battison latched onto a pass on the edge of the German box and lobbed Schumacher, however the German keeper continued through into Battiston long after the ball had went behind him and knocking Battiston out. Surprisingly no booking was shown by the referee and even more bewildering no free kick was given either.

Battiston lost three teeth in what can be argued as an ‘assault’ by the legendary German keeper.

Pele v Gordon Banks

World Champions England faced Brazil in Group 3 of the 1970 World Cup, and one of the greatest saves of the competition was pulled off by England’s keeper Gordon Banks from Brazilian legend Pele. England still lost the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Jairzinho, but they finished second in the group and progressed to the knock out stages where they lost to Germany, as their opponents gained revenge for that defeat four years previous.

Maradona solo goal

While the Hand of God goal stole the headlines, Maradona’s second goal of the game was worthy of winning any game and totally ignored by the English who focus solely on the Hand of God goal.

Graham Poll – Card happy referee

Referees have it tough enough in the age of instant replays with television coverage, but poor old Graham Poll added to the long list of poor refereeing decisions at World Cups.

During the 2006 World Cup match between Croatia and Australia, the English referee issued three yellow cards to Croatian Josip Šimunić before eventually sending him off.

Bergkamp goal v Argentina

Some footballers are born to score world class goals and Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp is one such player.

In untypical fashion, the ball is hoofed up front by the Dutch, but the Arsenal playmaker controlled the ball perfectly before firing past the Argentina keeper to secure a 2-1 win for the Dutch to set up a semi final clash with Brazil.

Andres Escobar own goal

While own goals are common place in all football games, and Escobar’s own goal during Colombia’s game against the USA in the 1994 World Cup is not deemed as a classic goal. It is one that will be remembered above all others for what happened in the aftermath.

Two weeks after Escobar scored that own goal, he was shot and killed in Medellin. The belief was that his death was actually an assassination by angry drug lords who lost a lot of money gambling on the game.

This notion is challenged by his friends and team mates, claiming his death was more to do with the troubles occurring in the country at the time, than his own goal being responsible for his death.

Baggio missed penalty

The final of the 1994 World Cup saw Italy and Brazil battle it out in the heat of the Rose Bowl. After 120 goalless minutes, the match would be decided by a penalty shoot out for the first time ever.

After four rounds of penalties, Brazil were leading 3-2 and up stepped Roberto Baggio.

Baggio, who starred for the Italians in the competition, had been playing injured and as he took his spot kick it sailed high over the bar and handed the World Cup to Brazil for the fourth time.

All that Baggio could do was to stand in front of the goal starring in disbelief with his hands at his side.

What is your top ten classic World Cup moments?

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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