Fifa World Cup: 12 unforgettable moments from the sporting event

They are among hundreds of shocking, thrilling, and nail-biting ones that this tournament brought forward

By Reuters

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Mon 19 Dec 2022, 11:19 AM

The Qatar World Cup has delivered a rich feast of football for the past month, with shocks, great goals, incredible celebrations and record-breaking feats served up by the assembled cast.

Here are 12 of the highlights:


Saudi Arabia stun Argentina

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Argentina were cruising in their opening Group C game after Lionel Messi scored a first-half penalty, but the Green Falcons swooped in to attack after half-time with Saleh Al Shehri squeezing in a low shot to equalise.

Five minutes later Salem Al Dawsari curled in a scorching second to leave Argentina in disbelief, and Saudi fans joyously singing 'where is Messi?'.


Argentina's supercharged third goal against France

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Rivalling the Albicelestes' well-coordinated Messi-Mac Allister-Di Maria goal was their third goal in the final match of the World Cup 2022, against mighty opponents France.

Montiel's deftly-placed chip pass set up a thrilling collaboration between Lautaro Martinez and Messi, both of whom tore through France's solid defence, resulting in a fantastic goal from the latter.

South Korea's nervous wait

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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 their phones, hoping that 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 Croatia's Gvardiol

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

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.

However, the way he held off Croatia's masked defender Joško Gvardiol, and 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 sheer genius.

Ronaldo exits final World Cup in tears

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Portugal's talisman became the first male player to score in five World Cups with a penalty against Ghana.

However, 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

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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 Japanese 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 — a beautiful mark of their culture.

France's relentless attacks on Argentina

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Despite France's loss to Argentina, the formidable Kylian Mbappe attacked relentlessly — especially in the second half, when he managed to free himself from Argentine defensive traps, a number of which were intended for him.

This resulted in a hat-trick from Messi's Paris Saint-Germain teammate, as well as a goal during the penalty shootouts.

Morocco fans cheer team with cacophony of whistles

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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

The noise that the red-clad hordes created in the stadiums was deafening, and reached a 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

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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 the 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

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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

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

Cameroon's Aboubakar sinks Brazil, then sent off

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

A manic group phase concluded in an 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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