The 100 greatest World Cup goals: 49-40

The 100 greatest World Cup goals: 49-40

We're continuing our greatest World Cup goals countdown with some German masterclasses, Bulgarian bullet headers and some retro volleys as we enter the top 50 of the list.

Goals 100-90

Goals 89 - 80

Goals 79 - 70

Goals 69 - 60

Goals 59 - 50

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49 Yordan Letchkov, Bulgaria v Germany, 1994

Bulgaria’s 1994 squad was a hipster football fan’s dream before the concept of a hipster football fan had even been invented. Stoichkov! Ivanov! Mihaylov and this man Letchkov who peels off the shoulder of the German defender and propels himself like a lawn dart to advance the Bulgarians to an unprecedented World Cup semi-final

LETCHKOV - against germany

48 Lefter, Turkey v South Korea 1954

Did you think sweetly struck volleys were only a modern footballing phenomenon? Well, prepare to be amazed by this unbelievable effort by one of Turkey’s greatest-ever players Lefter Kuckandonyadis, who catches this like Paul Scholes in his leaving the South Korea with no hope of saving it.

LEFTER - against south korea

47 Sunday Oliseh, Nigeria v Spain, 1998

Spain’s capitulation at France 1998 was one of the biggest talking points in the early stages of that tournament and the writing should have been on the wall after their 3-2 opening game loss to Nigeria. Despite being ahead 2-1 the Spaniards conspired against themselves to lose 3-2 with the final blow coming from this thunderous shot from the wonderfully named Sunday Oliseh.

OLISEH - against spain

46 Diego Forlan, Uruguay v Ghana, 2010

South Africa 2010 gets a bad wrap because let’s face it, many of the matches were very stale and forgettable affairs and everyone hated the maligned Jabulani ball which appeared to have a mind of its own. One of the few players who mastered it was Diego Forlan with this free kick against Ghana being a prime example of that as it dips and swerves all over the place.

Diego Forlán freekick goal vs

45 Johan Cruyff, Netherlands v Argentina, 1974

It really wouldn’t be a World Cup list if we didn’t mention Johan Cruyff, simply one of the coolest and most influential footballers to ever play the game. In just three moves Cruyff plucks the ball out of the air, takes it around the goalkeeper and slots it into an empty net. Casual as you like.

Johan Cruyff Netherlands vs Argentina 1-0 Second Round World Cup 1974 Dutch

44 David Platt, England v Belgium, 1990

One of the great last-gasp goals in World Cup history. In the dying embers of extra-time David Platt, who would later go on to have a respectable career in Italia, swiveled and stuck his right leg out into the Bologna air and connected with a sublime volley to take the Three Lions through to the quarter-finals.


43 Eder, Brazil v Scotland, 1982

Brazi’s 1982 squad was arguably the best team to never win the World Cup. Filled with generational talents who scored some of their nation's greatest-ever goals and some of the best ever seen on the grandest stage of them all and not all of them were screamers or mazy dribbles such as this delightful chip from Eder against Scotland in 1982.

Eder Brazil vs Scotland 3-1 First Round World Cup 1982 Dutch

42 Ivor Allchurch, Wales v Hungary 1958

Wales will play at Qatar 2022 making their first return to a World Cup since the 1958 competition where they gave a very good account of themselves, making it out of a very tough group featuring Hungary, Mexico and hosts Sweden. This outrageous volley from the great Ivor Allchurch occurred in an odd post-group play-off game which eliminated the Hungarians.

ALLCHURCH - against hungary

41 David Villa, Spain v Honduras, 2010

Although Spain would go on to win the World Cup in 2010 they were the victims of an upset in the opening game losing 1-0 to Switzerland. They managed to regroup in their next game with a 2-0 win over Honduras with David Villa opening the scoring with this astounding solo effort which is both a mesmerising dribble and screamer at the same time.

Spagna - Honduras David Villa

40 Lothar Matthaus, Germany v Yugoslavia, 1990

Lothar Matthaus was one of the most talented and versatile players of his generation and this goal proves that. Picking up the ball in his own half, the 1990 Ballon d’Or winner skips past a Yugoslavian defender with ease before hitting an unstoppable shot hard and low into the bottom right-hand corner. If you look up the word ‘industrious’ in the dictionary you’ll probably see this goal.

MATTHÄUS - against yugoslavia 1990 (3-1)

Click for goals: 39-30

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