The World Cup has supplied plenty of drama over the years. Here are the 10 greatest games in tournament history.
Italy 3-Brazil 2, quarter-finals (1982): Legendary BBC play-by-play announcer John Motson, who called over 1,000 games during his distinguished career, said this was the greatest match he’s ever commented on. It had drama, fantastic goals, great saves and one hero: the indomitable Paolo Rossi who scored a memorable hat trick to lead the Italians to a thrilling victory over a Brazil side that critics hailed as even better than the 1970 World Cup winning team.
West Germany 4-France 3, semifinals (1982): A penalty shootout thriller that offered plenty of controversy, twists and turns, and great goals. This game was like two prized fighters squaring off in the ring who just hammered each other for 12 rounds with everything they had. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for France for blowing a two-goal lead in extra time, while at the same time admire West Germany’s fighting spirit. A rollercoaster of a game.
Italy 4-West Germany 3, semifinals (1970): A true classic in every sense of the word. Down 1-0, the Germans scored in injury time and what followed was 30 glorious minutes of extra time that earned a special place in the soccer pantheon: a heart-stopping battle between two brilliant teams the produced an explosion of drama, tension, and goals in Mexico City. Their semifinal matchup at the 2006 World Cup, a 2-0 win for Italy in extra time, was just as good, if not better.
France 2-Brazil 1, quarter-finals (1986): Four years after a bitter loss to West Germany on penalties, Les Bleus won an epic matchup against Brazil in a shootout under the scorching Mexican sun. The action was non-stop for two hours with Michel Platini and Zico leading the way and French goalkeeper Joel Bats making one miraculous save after another.
England 4-West Germany 2, final (1966): England’s finest hour – actually two hours as the hosts conquered the West Germans in extra time. The Germans tied the score in the 90th minute, silencing the stunned crowd at Wembley Stadium. English manager Sir Alf Ramsey inspired his team to victory by telling them prior to the kickoff of extra time, “You’ve beaten them once, go out and beat them again.” Did the ball cross the line? The controversy rages on to this day.
West Germany 3-Hungary 2, final (1954): Nobody expected much of a game, especially after Hungary embarrassed the Germans 8-3 in the first round. With Hungary leading 2-0 after only eight minutes, another rout appeared to be in the cards. But somehow, the Germans didn’t wilt and die, and instead authored one of the most amazing comeback stories in World Cup history
Portugal 5-North Korea 3, quarter-finals (1966): After stunning the Italians in the opening round, North Korea looked set to post another incredible upset when it took a 3-0 lead against Portugal after only 22 minutes. There would be no second miracle for the North Koreans, however, as Eusebio took over and scored four goals to guide Portugal to victory.
Hungary 4-Uruguay 2, semifinals (1954): An intriguing matchup that pitted dominant Hungary against the reigning world champions. Tied 2-2 after 90 minutes, Sandor Kocsis scored a pair of goals in extra time to lift Hungary to victory and through to the final in Switzerland
Argentina 3-England 2, second round (1998): Twelve years after the “Hand of God,” Argentina and England renewed their rivalry in France. This game was Michael Owen’s coming out party – he scored a fantastic goal on a clear breakaway – but there were several other memorable moments: Javier Zanetti’s brilliantly worked goal off a set piece and David Beckham’s contentious red card.
Brazil 6-Poland 5, first round (1938): A forgotten gem. A wet and muddy field in Strasbourg didn’t slow down Leonidas, who had a hat trick for Brazil. Polish forward Ernest Willimowski scored four times in a wildly entertaining match that went to extra time.