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10 of the Best World Cup Goals of All Time

by Joe Batruny Jun 12, 2014

WHILE THIS YEAR’S WORLD CUP is sure to have its fair share of electrifying strikes, years past have shown us the same. Take a look at 10 of our favorite World Cup goals of all time, in no particular order.

Diego Maradona: Argentina vs England, 1986

No, it’s not the notorious “Hand of God” goal. This one came less than 5 minutes later during the same game. Upon receiving the ball, Maradona turned on the jet engines and covered 60 meters in 10 seconds, dribbling past four English defenders (Terry Butcher had the joy of being juked around twice) and goalkeeper Peter Shilton before releasing the ball into an open goal. Though still up for debate, the goal was voted the FIFA World Cup Goal of the Century in 2002 by fans from all over the globe.

Dennis Bergkamp: Netherlands vs Argentina, 1998

It took Dennis Bergkamp less than 2.5 seconds to formulate a solution to the 1-1 score during the 90th minute of the quarterfinal match between Holland and Argentina: three precision touches of the ball (all made with his right foot). With the first touch, Bergkamp gracefully reins in Frank de Boer’s long pass before megging Roberto Ayala for touch number two, only to complete the series by expertly placing the shot past goalkeeper Carlos Roa into the far top corner.

Michael Owen: England vs Argentina, 1998

A well-kept secret until this point, Michael Owen made his name known with this goal at a young 18 years of age. Receiving the ball in stride just past midfield, Owen speeds by the opposition and meets his last defender face to face. He feigns left and moves right, shaking Roberto Ayala for a split second, before firing the ball across the box into the far corner of the goal. After this one, well, Owen wasn’t such a secret anymore.

Pelé: Brazil vs Sweden, 1958

Forty years prior to Owen’s coming-of-age goal, Pelé announced himself to the world at the age of 17 with this impressive goal against Sweden in the World Cup final. Bringing down Nilton Santos’ cross with his chest, Pele flicks the ball over the defending Bengt Gustavsson before sending it past Karl Svensson with a low volley. The score of the match ended at 5-2 with Brazil victorious, giving them their first World Cup trophy — things were never the same.

Carlos Alberto: Brazil vs Italy, 1970

This time around Pelé wasn’t the scorer, but he did provide some help. The scene begins with Clodoaldo as he effortlessly maneuvers around four Italian players before passing the ball to Rivelino, who quickly finds Jairzinho downfield. Pelé fields a short pass from Jairzinho before delivering the ball to a Carlos Alberto, moving at full-speed, who rips the ball into the opposing goal. Already far ahead on the scoreboard, Brazil brings the trophy home once again.

Saeed Al-Owairan: Saudi Arabia vs Belgium, 1994

Saeed Al-Owairan went on a solo mission to score this goal in Saudi Arabia’s 1994 World Cup match against Belgium. In 2002, his goal received the sixth-most votes for FIFA World Cup Goal of the Century. Five minutes into the match, the midfielder received a pass and set off running. He kept running, shimmying past several players in the process, until finding the opportunity to send the ball zooming past Michel Preud’homme for the goal. Al-Owairan’s showmanship and efforts kept Saudi Arabia’s World Cup 1994 hopes alive, later dashed by Sweden in the Round of 16.

Roberto Baggio: Italy vs Czechoslovakia, 1990

Often touted as the “goal of the tournament,” Baggio’s goal against Czechoslovakia in 1990 is one to remember. Off a one-two with Giuseppe Giannini, Baggio dribbles the ball all the way to the penalty box, splitting much of the defense in the process. Feigning left and losing his final defender, Baggio zips the ball past the goalie from the direct center of the penalty area to score. The mullet and the missed penalty kick are equally memorable, unfortunately.

Gheorghe Hagi: Romania vs Colombia, 1994

Playing in Pasadena during 1994’s World Cup, Hagi received a short ground pass just past midfield. After a handful of short dribbles, he releases the ball with a long-distance lob. Colombian goalkeeper Oscar Cordoba leaps, hand stretched in the air, but there is little that he could do. The ball hits the back of the net. The Romanians celebrate as they continue on their path to the quarterfinals.

Esteban Cambiasso: Argentina vs Serbia and Montenegro, 2006

Argentina routed Serbia and Montenegro in their 6-0 victory during 2006’s World Cup, and the 24-pass series culminating in Cambiasso’s goal is the perfect summary. The Argentines casually passed the ball between themselves over the course of nearly 90 seconds before Cambiasso, 12 yards out, received the ball off a nice backheel and smashed it into the back of the net. The goal was a picture-perfect demonstration of Argentina’s style.

Arie Haan: Netherlands vs Italy, 1978

Arie Haan’s most famous goal was his 40-yard shot against Italy in the second group stage of 1978’s World Cup. Haan wound up and ignited a long-distance strike towards the Italian goal. Dino Zoff, the Italian goalkeeper, leapt and extended in an effort to stop the attempt but was unsuccessful as the ball bounced off the goalpost and ricocheted into the back of the net.

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