World Cup: 101 most memorable tournament moments

World Cup: 101 most memorable tournament moments


Over the span of 92 years and 21 tournaments, the World Cup has had so many memorable moments.

So every day until Qatar 2022, which will air exclusively on FOX networks starting Nov. 20, Jenny Taft and Doug McIntyre are counting down the 101 most memorable moments in World Cup history. Find out where your favorite moment ended up on our countdown.

101: Messi magic vs. Nigeria

Lionel Messi showed Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho that his right foot is just as lethal as his left, and reminded the world why he’s considered by many as the greatest of all time.

Lionel Messi’s miracle

Messi led Argentina back from a disappointing start to the 2018 World Cup.

100: Wynalda’s colossal curler

It would have been hard for Eric Wynalda to place his free kick more perfectly than he did; it helped that it came at the perfect time, too.

Eric Wynalda’s free kick

The USMNT’s deepest World Cup run was made by possible by Wyndala’s wonder strike.

99: Jürgen’s famous flick

Long before he coached the United States men’s national team at the 2014 World Cup, Jürgen Klinsmann scored a ton of goals for Germany, including this stunner against South Korea.

Jürgen spins and scores

Jürgen Klinsmann set himself up for a perfect goal.

98: Cuauhtémoc’s arrival

South Korea’s defenders didn’t know what to do when Cuauhtémoc Blanco broke out the Cuauhtemiña at the 1998 World Cup. 

The Cuauhtemiña

South Korea didn’t do their homework on Blanco.

97: Laudrup’s sneaky scoop

A no-look scoop pass over the top of the defense with the outside of the boot? Michael Laudrup didn’t play fair.

Michael Laudrup’s assist

Ebbe Sand was on the receiving end of one of the greatest assists in World Cup history.

96: Chilavert makes history

José Luis Chilavert didn’t convert his free kick against Bulgaria at the 1998 World Cup, but he came as close as any keeper has since.

Chilavert’s historic free kick

Make or miss, Chilavert made goalkeeper history.

95: Japan’s thoughtful fans

Who do you think appreciated the support of Japan’s fans more in 2018: Japan’s men’s national team or the stadium staff in Russia?

Japanese fans take fandom to the next level

These Japanese fans did their part to keep the stadium clean.

94: Oh my, Oliseh

The power and precision of Sunday Oliseh’s shot stunned the Spanish giants of 1998. I mean, how do you stop that?

Oliseh’s screamer vs. Spain

Nigeria upset Spain 3-2 at the 1998 World Cup.

93: Matthäus’ individual brilliance

Yugoslavia paid the price of giving Lothar Matthäus ample space to operate in the midfield, and his German teammates watched him collect.

Matthäus’ run and rocket

Matthäus’ long-range effort was one of his two impressive goals in Germany’s 4-1 victory.

92: El Tri tops Die Mannschaft

Mexico’s fans were hoping for a draw against Germany; what they got was arguably El Tri’s most surprising result on the World Cup stage.

Mexico upsets Germany

Chucky Lozano was the hero in Mexico’s 1-0 win over Germany.

91: Pelé’s magical miss

It’s safe to say this would have landed higher on our countdown had Pelé stuck the landing.

Pelé’s runaround

Even Pelé’s are highlight worthy.

 90: Letchkov’s heroic header

West Germany were the favorites to repeat as world champions in 1994 … until Yordan Letchkov decided they weren’t.

Letchkov’s header stuns Germany

Yordan Letchkov’s goal completed Bulgaria’s unlikely win against Germany.

89: No era penal

This one’s pretty self-explanatory for Mexico fans: It wasn’t a penalty.

Mexico’s battle cry

Arjen Robben drew a controversial foul call in the box and then the Netherlands scored on a penalty kick.

88: Bebeto rocks the baby

In 1994, Brazil’s Bebeto gave his newborn son the best birthday present ever: a celebration at the World Cup.

Bebeto’s birthday gift

Brazil’s Bebeto scores against the Netherlands and celebrates by rocking the baby for the birth of this newborn child.

87. First goal wins

There have been two golden goals in World Cup history; Laurent Blanc’s sent his team to the quarterfinals, where they’d win en route to their first-ever World Cup trophy.

First golden goal

French defender Laurent Blanc scored the first golden goal to eliminate Paraguay in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

86. Italy goes back-to-back

Pelé’s Brazil teams are the most famous to win back-to-back World Cups, but they weren’t the first.

Italy becomes first back-to-back winner

Italy won the World Cup in 1934 and 1938.

85. Salenko’s five-goal frenzy

Oleg Salenko already had the golden boot secured when Russia were eliminated in the group stage of the 1994 World Cup.

Salenko bags five goals

Russia’s Salenko scores five goals against Cameroon in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

84. The Secretary of Defense

Tim Howard did everything he could to save the United States from elimination at the 2014 World Cup, and his record-setting performance in the USMNT’s loss to Belgium earned him the nickname “Secretary of Defense.”

Tim Howard sets saves record

Tim Howard set the WC saves record for the USA against Belgium.

83. Record scoreline set

Hungary showed no mercy for El Salvador in their record-setting 10-1 win at the 1982 World Cup. 

Hungary embarrass El Salvador

Hungary scored 10 goals against El Salvador, making it the most lopsided result in World Cup History.

82. USMNT robbed of semifinals

The United States men’s team would have had a fair chance of making their first World Cup semifinal appearance since 1930 had it not been for a missed call.

Germany get away with handball

The USMNT could have evened the score with a converted penalty.

81. England come back in extra time

Cameroon nearly became the first African men’s team to advance to a World Cup semifinal, but they couldn’t stop England’s comeback.

Lions vs. Lions

England beat Cameroon 3-2 at the 1990 World Cup

80. Van Bronckhorst’s blast

Giovanni van Bronckhorst went from uncertain roster selection to national hero at the 2010 World Cup.

Van Bronckhorst goes top bins

Fernando Muslera didn’t stand a chance against this shot.

79. South Korea play spoiler

South Korea’s win over Germany wasn’t enough to push them through to the knockout stage, but it did eliminate the then-reigning champions of the world.

South Korea’s stoppage time thriller

Son Heung-min sent the Germans home in 2018.

78. England hold off Colombia

England’s misfortune with penalty shootouts took a brief break at the 2018 World Cup.

Dier ends England’s curse

The Colombians nearly upset England.

77. Iran’s gesture of peace

Although Iran beat the United States on the pitch, their gesture was the talking point of the game after the final whistle.

Iran sends a message

Members from Iran gifted the USMNT bouquets of flowers.

76. Just Fontaine’s 13 goals

Just Fontaine scored 13 goals at the 1958 World Cup, as many as the last two World Cup Golden Boot winners scored combined.

Fontaine fires record 13 goals

Just Fontaine scored 13 goals in six matches for France.

This page will be updated every day through the start of the World Cup on Nov. 20.


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About the Author

Marie Maynes
Marie Maynes is a Sports enthusiast and writes for the Sports section of ANH.