Russia welcomed 32 teams in June to live the most electrifying sports show on earth, and it certainly did not disappoint. France got away with the trophy after deploying a fantastic and balanced brand of football which some may say was as efficient as valuable.
France took down Croatia in the final 4-2, giving football fans the final with the most goals scored since England’s 4-2 win over Germany in 1966, although extra time made its presence in that match.
The last final game with at least six goals in ninety minutes was Brazil’s thrashing of Sweden in 1958, Pelé’s arrival with 17 years of age, similar to 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé’s abrupt display of pace, confidence, and goalscoring we saw in the past World Cup for winners France.
France took its second title in the last 20 years (six World Cups) in its third final in the same span. French coach Didier Deschamps became the third person to win the World Cup both as a player and a coach, joining Brazilian Mário Zagallo (1958 and 1962 as a player, 1970 as a coach), and German legend Franz Beckenbauer (1974 as a player, and 1990 as a coach). Beckenbauer and Deschamps are the only two to win the championship as captains and coaches.
With a goal-tally of 169, which fell just two short of the record (171 in 2014 and 1998), the 2018 World Cup was full of action and drama. The group stage was packed with the reigning champions, Germany, failing to advance.
Own goals played a prominent role, even in the deciding match, with Mario Mandzukic scoring the first-ever own goal in a World Cup final. The own goal number in this tournament (12) is a record.
The average number of goals scored per game in the championship stood at 2.64. Harry Kane was the leading goalscorer in the tournament with six, while Belgian Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann, Mbappé, and Russian Denis Cheryshev followed the English striker with four goals each.
It is time to take a look into the top 5 goals scored in the fantastic 2018 FIFA World Cup.
#1 Benjamin Pavard / France versus Argentina
Considering how the championship unfolded for France, it is safe to say that Benjamin Pavard, the 22-year-old defender for VfB Stuttgart, scored both the best goal of the 2018 World Cup and the most important too.
Pavard’s magical volley arrived in the round of sixteen versus Lionel Messi’s Argentina. France took the lead in the first half thanks to a penalty won by Mbappé and converted by Griezmann. But as Ángel Di María scored a huge long-distance goal before halftime, Argentina’s confidence grew. The Albiceleste took a 2-1 lead in the early stages of the second half thanks to a lucky goal by Sevilla’s defender Gabriel Mercado.
Argentina was hoping to let the result establish itself and put pressure on France, mainly with counter attacks and fast transitions.
However, Pavard resolved France’s problems with a stunning volley to tie the match. The right-back put his national side leveled with Argentina and turn the confidence into their favor, which translated into Mbappé’s brace in less than five minutes. France won the match 4-3 and kicked Argentina out of the World Cup.
Pavard’s goals versus Argentina is his only goal for France so far, and indeed0 was France’s most important goal of the tournament.
#2 Philippe Coutinho / Brazil versus Switzerland
Brazil’s run in Russian soil started with a 1-1 rare draw against Switzerland at Rostov-on-Don. The Brazilian side, heavily favoured to win the title and reach its sixth World Cup trophy, the most ever, did not have a great start of the tournament, but Coutinho scored a brilliant goal, as usual.
Brazil had an attack prone to come from the left side of the pitch, with Marcelo and Neymar leading the offensive actions for the Tite-led squad. Marcelo was attacking and tried to get a left-foot cross into the box, but the defence was able to reject it.
The loose ball found Coutinho, who never doubted what he could do and showed the world the kind of goals he’s always demonstrated since his Internazionale days, and mostly showed at Liverpool. The best Brazilian in the tournament kicked the ball with perfection and put it away from goalkeeper Yann Sommer and into the net after hitting the post to give Brazil an early 1-0 lead.
#3 Cristiano Ronaldo / Portugal versus Spain
Cristiano Ronaldo took his place in the top goals scored in the tournament thanks to a perfect free-kick against Spain in Portugal’s debut in the World Cup.
Ronaldo gave his side the lead in the first half after creating a penalty, which he converted, and adding a second goal in the first half after breaking David De Gea’s resistance with a powerful left-foot shot.
Spain took a 3-2 second half-lead with Nacho’s sweet volley looking like the game-winning goal, but CR7 had different plans.
Ronaldo received a long pass near Spain’s box in the 86th minute of the match. The Portuguese made a perfect first touch with his left foot and was fouled by Gerard Piqué as he tried to turn.
Cristiano pulled off a magnificent free-kick over the two taller players in the Spanish barrier, Piqué, and Sergio Busquets, and the ball drew a perfect curve to left De Gea standing as CR7 tied the game at three apiece.
#4 Nacho Fernández / Spain versus Portugal
Spain and Portugal gave fans a great taste of entertainment in the second day of action in Russia. After Portugal stormed to a 2-1 lead in the first half thanks to a couple of goals by Cristiano Ronaldo, “La Furia Roja” came back and tied the score in the second half with a goal from Diego Costa, his second of the match.
Spain put pressure on the Portuguese defence and was able to quickly improve its chances to start the World Cup with a mega-important victory after Spanish Federation’s president Luis Rubiales sacked coach Julen Lopetegui two days before the tournament began.
Nacho Fernández, Real Madrid defender, took part in the starting lineup as a right-back due to Dani Carvajal not being fit to play after his injury in the UEFA Champions League final in Kyiv against Liverpool.
The Real Madrid defender took his opportunity and scored a perfect volley with his right foot to give the Spanish National Team a 3-2 provisional lead over the European champions.
#5 Toni Kroos / Germany versus Sweden
Germany’s run in the group stage had more bad moments than anything else. In its second match in the first round, the reigning champions had a fierce encounter with Sweden.
The Swedish side took the lead in the first half with an Ola Toivonen precise finish over goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Germany responded in the early stages of the second half with a good play on the left-hand side by Timo Werner and an improvised knee-finish by Dortmund’s Marco Reus.
Jerome Boateng got sent off with ten minutes left and Germany’s dream appeared to disappear in front of their eyes until Werner earn a foul in the left-hand side and Toni Kroos elected to score one of the most beautiful and dramatic goals of the group stage in Russia.