Fluid passing, wonderful movement and an emphatic finish: this goal from Careca sums up everything you think of when picturing swaggering Brazilian teams of old. First of all, there’s a commanding header from the steely defence to secure possession. Then, the interplay between the forwards is unstoppable, with the kind of composure and precision that can rip apart back lines with ease.
This is one of those goals that gets better every time you see it. Ray Houghton is running away from goal when he decides to hit this elegant, dipping volley over the keeper’s head during Ireland’s game against Italy. Irish football was at an all-time high after reaching the Quarter Finals four years before in 1990, and this goal on their way to a 1-0 victory marked another highlight from Jack Charlton’s time in charge of the team.
Ray Houghton Goal–Republic of Ireland v Italy–World Cup 1994–USA–18th June Group E-Giants Stadium.www.youtube.com
37. Philipp Lahm, Germany v Costa Rica, 2006
Whether he was playing right back, left back or holding midfield, Philipp Lahm was a class act whenever he took to the field for Germany. He’s well-regarded as one of the best tacticians in the history of international football, but most people wouldn’t consider him a real attacking force. Judging by this goal against Costa Rica, though, which saw him cut inside off the left before shaping one past the keeper, perhaps they should.
You can stuff your tiki-taka. Sometimes you’re just in the mood to watch a ball being smashed at 1,000mph into the back of the net, and Zbigniew Boniek provided one of those moments in 1982. Boniek was one of the stars of the cult Poland side of the early 80s which made a big impact at the tournament, and scored this unstoppable effort off the crossbar against Belgium. Truth be told, though, any one of the three goals he scored in that game is worth their place on this list. Poland would go on to finish in third place for the tournament after putting in a series of impressive displays.
Brazil have always been the scorers of beautiful goals, of all kinds. For all their individual skill, passing and movement and graceful play, they could score absolute screamers too, and as soon as this rocket left the right boot of Josimar there was only one place it was going.
Audacity is always a good quality in a goal, and this one has it by the truckload. A ball is swung into Hans Krankl on the left side of the box. He takes it onto his left foot perfectly, before swiveling and popping a delicious effort into the far corner before the defenders can get to him. It remains one of the biggest games in Austrian football history, not just because it was at the World Cup, but because it was the first time an Austrian national team had beaten either West or East Germany in 47 years.
Why not? Joe Cole showed a flash of bravery that England’s ‘golden generation’ so often lacked with this incredible effort against Sweden in the group stages back in 2006. Cole finds himself surprisingly deep when the ball pops out of the box, and rather than take it down and take a more conservative option, he chests it down before unleashing a beautiful dipping volley from miles out over the keeper.
Some of the best close control you’re ever likely to see on the biggest stage, Ferenc Bene chopped back and forth on this mazy run as the Hungarians upset Brazil in one of the biggest shocks in the history of the World Cup. It’s easy to forget that Hungary had a huge impact on the game in the 50s, with their Golden Team providing major upsets in that time. They had faded as a force by this point in 1966, but it shows they still had the power to provide memorable moments.
There’s a poetry to watching Brazil play well at international tournaments, and this goal from Eder is an exhibition of flair, imagination and unbelievable talent. There’s a scrappy build-up, before an inspired dummy opens up the field for Éder Aleixo. He drives forward, pops the ball up with his first touch before unleashing a fierce left-footed volley past the keeper who is rooted to the spot.
We’ve already touched on this match in this list, which has to go down as one of the best group games in World Cup history. It was the highlight of the early stages back in 2018 and saw Ronaldo almost single handedly drag his team through a tough tie against a strong Spain side. He left David De Gea rooted to the spot with this late equaliser which proved a fitting finish to a fantastic game.
Cristiano Ronaldo epic freekick Goal vs spain 2018 _ Wc (portugal vs spain 3-3)www.youtube.com