Before a ball was kicked, the world was uneasy about the World Cup in Russia. The political atmosphere during the build-up to the tournament was at times toxic, fans were being put off travelling to the host-nation out of fear directed by the media, and, in the case of some teams such as Spain, Croatia and Argentina, unrest in team camps.
It’s now safe to say that the 2018 edition of the FIFA World Cup was one of the greatest editions of the tournament of all time. It had absolutely everything: underdogs triumphing over adversity; heavy favourites getting dumped out so early on; amazing goals; and even England winning on penalties. There were also so many goals scored beyond the 90th minute that added to the incredible drama and made each and every match (apart from the ONLY goalless draw between France and Denmark) a must-see event. Here we look at the 8 best #Beyond90Goals from an amazing World Cup.
1. Denis Cheryshev 90+1′ (Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia; Group A Match 1; 14/06/18)
Host-nation Russia entered their own World Cup tournament and stood in the centre of Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in-front of 78,000 including Vladimir Putin and millions watching around the world as the WORST-ranked team that had qualified for the tournament. Lucky for them, their first opponents Saudi Arabia were the second-worst ranking team at the World Cup and for them it showed as Russia steamrolled them to cruise to a 5-0 victory. Already 3-0 up as the clock ticked towards 90 minuted, Villareal’s Denis Cheryshev, a first-half substitute who had already scored his country’s second, produced a moment of brilliance to curl a beautiful strike with the outside of his foot straight into the top corner of the net. Two minutes later Aleksandr Golovin scored straight from a free-kick to make it 5 but Cheryshev’s second was the first instance of magic at this spellbinding tournament.
2. Harry Kane 90+1′ (England 2-1 Tunisia; Group G Match 1; 18/06/18)
England began their World Cup campaign with as little fan optimism as recently remembered, coming off an embarrassing car-crash of a defeat to lowly Iceland in the UEFA European Championships 2 years prior and Gareth Southgate only really had one mission for this tournament: make the nation proud. Eleven minutes into their first game against unfancied Tunisia and talisman Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur seized upon a gifted tap-in to put a dominant Three Lions in-front however Tunisia won and converted a penalty conceded by Kyle Walker to bring England crashing back down to earth and after penalty-appeal after penalty-appeal was turned away and as 90 minutes passed, the apathy and disappointment amongst supporters was starting to return. Then in the 91st minute Leicester City’s Harry Maguire flicked a beautiful ball into the box that deceived everyone and found its way to Harry Kane who headed home to seal the victory. It was this goal and the following 6-1 victory over Panama that created the ‘It’s Coming Home’ phenomenon and spurred England all the way to the semi-final.
3. Toni Kroos 90+5′ (Germany 2-1 Sweden; Group F Match 2; 23/06/18)
Reigning World Champions Germany were massive favourites heading into this tournament. Despite the peculiar decision to omit Premier League Young Player of the year Leroy Sane, Joachim Low still had a wealth of talent at his disposal, pretty much two teams: the experienced players who’d won the tournament in Brazil and the next-generation which had claimed the Confederations Cup the previous Summer. A shock defeat to Mexico in their opening game meant that from their game with Sweden onwards, it was already knockout territory and when Ola Toivonen chipped Manuel Neuer to give Sweden the lead the Germans were staring down the barrel of an early exit. Marco Reus levelled the scoring after half time but when Jerome Boateng received a red card and the clock reached the 95th minute, a draw would have still made things dangerously close. Up stepped Real Madrid playmaker Toni Kroos, who’s bullet of a free-kick soared past the keeper and gave Germans a massive win and kept their fate still in their own hands…
4. Kim Yong Gwon 90+2′ AND Son Heung-min 90+6 (South Korea 2-0 Germany, Group F Match 3; 27/06/18)
…However, Germany’s jubilation lasted a mere four days as they were deservedly dumped out at the group stage for the first time since the 1930’s to a spirited South Korean side that leapfrogged them in the group-standings. A combination of German wastefulness and goalkeeping heroics from Hyun-Woo Cho, coupled with sweden’s dominant victory over Mexico in the other group match meant Germany had to win, and win well. Their hopes were smashed when a goal-mouth scramble led to a tap-in for Kim Yong Gwon in the 92nd minute. A VAR review awarded the goal and Germany were as good as gone. It was confirmed four minutes later when keeper Manuel Neuer deserted his goal in desperation, gave the ball away and allowed Tottenham’s Son Heung-min to latch onto the end of a cross and walk the ball into the net to wrap things up. The curse of the defending champions going out in the group stage had struck again and Germany joined France, Italy and Spain in the list of recent disasters.
5. Nacer Chadli 90+4 (Belgium 3-2 Japan; Round of 16; 02/07/18)
Roberto Martinez took Belgium to the World Cup with the unenviable task of living up to the ‘Golden Age’ banner but had a who’s who of Premier League stars at his disposal: Thibaut Courtois was the man-mountain in goal; Vincent Kompany kept control in defence; Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne dominated the midfield; and Romelu Lukaku spearheaded the attack. It would be an understatement to call their 2-0 deficit to Japan in the round of 16 a shock. It was a calamity and at times Martinez and his assistant Thierry Henry looked completely helpless on the sidelines. However Vertonghen and Fellani managed to claw the Red Devils level and when extra time beckoned, South Korea had a corner. Once Courtois had retrieved the ball he sent it straight to De Bruyne who ran central then picked out Thomas Meunier on the right-wing. Meunier whipped it into a the box to find Lukaku, who dummied it to an approaching Nacer Chadli who smashed it into the back of the net. It was the perfect breakaway goal as well as the perfect team-goal and Martinez breathed a sigh of relief. Belgium would use this thrilling moment as motivation to outclass Brazil on their way to finishing third, their highest ever position at the World Cup.
6. Yerry Mina 90+3′ (Colombia 1-1 England, England win 4-3 on penalties; Round of 16; 03/07/18)
England’s late winner against Tunisia and battering of Panama rendered their final game against Belgium a meaningless match yet defeat saw them finish second and receive the perceived easier route through the knockout phase. They faced a Colombian side without their star player James Rodriguez of Bayern Munich, who had lit up the tournament in Brazil four years ago. Nevertheless Colombia still posed a substantial threat and England hadn’t won a knockout game since 2006. From the outset it was clear Colombia’s game-plan was to physically hurt England so it was no surprise that Harry Kane would open the scoring from the penalty spot. since that goal in the 57th minute, Colombia took control of the tie and a stunning save from Jordan Pickford in the 92nd minute gave Colombia a corner. Like a salmon, Yerry Mina leapt to header the ball straight over an airborne Kieran Trippier and diving Jordan Pickford to take the game to extra time, which they completely dominated yet could not find a winner. England were lucky to make it to the penalty shootout but knew what stood between them and history was rewriting history itself: From the shootouts they had previously contested (7) they had only won 1. When Jordan Henderson missed his spot-kick it looked like a given Colombia would advance. Then in another twist Uribe saw his crash off the bar and Bacca had his saved and sandwiched in-between was trippier’s excellent shot which meant that Eric Dier had the chance to book England’s place in the quarter final against Sweden. One stunning strike later and England were on their way through. They would indeed beat Sweden and for the first time since 1990, they would make it to the semi-final.
7. Mario Fernandes (Russia 2-2 Croatia, Croatia win 4-3 on penalties; Quarter-Final; 07/07/18)
In the last quarter-final to take place, hosts Russia, who had rebounded from a 3-0 mauling at the hands of Uruguay to knock out one of the favourites and 2010 champions Spain on penalties, faced Croatia who themselves had to go through the emotional agony of a penalty shootout. A 1-1 draw between the two ensured and both were tasked with putting their bodies through 120 minutes for the second game in a row. Vida’s 101st minute goal in extra time would put Croatia 2-1 in-front yet in the 115th minute, in a time of absolute desperation, an Alan Dzagoev free-kick found the rising head of Mario Fernandes who directed the ball into the net. The supposed worst-ranked team in the tournament had somehow put themselves within a penalty shootout away from the semi-final. Ultimately, Croatia would prevail with Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic converting the winning penalty past Igor Akinfeev to put Croatia into their first semi-final since 1998.
8. Mario Mandžukić 109’ (Croatia 2-1 England, AET; Semi-Final; 11/07/18)
‘It’s Coming Home’ fever was gripping the entire nation and 5 minutes into their first World Cup semi-final since 1990 England were on course for a major shock by qualifying for only their second major final. Kieran Trippier had scored a majestic free-kick and at half-time the general consensus was that the Three Lions should really have put the match beyond doubt. England however did not take all of their chances and a 1-0 is always precarious so when Ivan Perišić struck home Croatia’s equaliser, England’s backs were up against the wall as the experience and overall quality of Rakitić and Modrić began to control the tie and ultimately England’s lack of experience was their undoing. In the 109th minute Mario Mandžukić reacted quicker than John Stones to get on the end of a wayward clearance to poke the ball past Jordan Pickford and England had nothing left after that. Thousands of Croatian supporters both in Moscow and watching on large city screens streets of Zagreb went wild as they reached their first ever major final where they’d ultimately fall short to a French team that were coming of age. England would finish 4th but would go home hero’s as Gareth Southgate had fulfilled his only mission: the nation’s relationship with its national team was the best it had been for a long, long time.