10. Dennis Bergkamp — Netherlands vs. Argentina (2-1), France 1998
With only minutes remaining, Frank De Boer sends a long and expertly thrown punt forward. Frontman Dennis Bergkamp brings the ball down with one touch, and then sends a curling shot past the goalkeeper.
Holland would advance to play — and lose to — Brazil in the semifinal.
8. Ronaldo — Japan vs. Brazil (1-4), Germany 2006
Ronaldo receives the ball and quickly kicks it past the goalkeeper in a seemingly easy and effortless way.
It was during this game when Ronaldo became the top goal-scorer in World Cup history. Brazil won the match and ended up moving to the second round.
7. Michael Owen — England vs. Argentina (2-2), France 1998
Michael Owen, who wasn’t really known outside of England at the time, takes on and shreds the entire Argentine defense before hammering a belter past Carlos Roa.
Despite the great performance by the English team, Argentina ended up winning the match.
6. Said Al Owayran — Belgium vs. Saudi Arabia (0-1), U.S.A. 1994
Just five minutes into the Saudi’s third and final group game, Al-Owairan proceeds to charge almost the entire length of the pitch, bobbing and weaving past several Belgian defenders before sliding his shot past Michel Preud’homme to score the only goal of the game.
This goal briefly dubbed Al-Owairan as “The Maradona of the Arabs,” and it sent his country through to the second round.
5. Johan Cruyff — Netherlands vs. Brazil (2-1), Germany 1974
Johan Cruyff receives the ball and quickly kicks it over mid-air past the goalkeeper, scoring the goal that would eliminate Brazil from the World Cup competition.
The Netherlands ended up moving up to the finals and losing to Germany.
4. Roberto Baggio — Italy vs. Czechoslovakia (2-0), Italy 1990
Receiving the ball on the left wing, Baggio exchanged a one-two with Giannini before bombing goalward. He hurdles a leg-breaking lunge casually before turning the final defender inside out and kicking the ball home.
After winning this game, Italy ended up playing until winning third place.
3. Manuel Negrete — Mexico vs. Bulgaria (2-0), Mexico 1986
Striker Manuel Negrete throws an unorthodox scissor-kick opener past the Bulgarian defense and scores one of the coolest goals ever seen during a World Cup game.
Mexico, the hosts at the time, ended up making it through to the quarterfinals and losing to Germany.
2. Pelé — Brazil vs. Sweden (5-2), Sweden 1958
Taking the ball down on his chest inside the area, Pelé flicked it over the head of his marker before volleying home with the same foot past Kalle Svensson.
World Cup 1958 will be forever remembered in Brazil as the first time Brazil won the tournament — but the majority of the footballing world considers the final against Sweden as the moment 17-year-old Pelé introduced himself on the sport’s grandest stage.
1. Diego Maradona — Argentina vs. England (2-1), Mexico 1986
Taking advantage of the shell-shocked three Lions, Maradona picks up the ball in his own half and then proceeds to go on one of the greatest dribbles that mankind has ever seen, shrugging off challenge after challenge to finish past Shilton.
England was finally defeated as Argentina strode off toward the World Cup title.
Honorable mention: Maradona’s controversial “hand of God” goal
Maradona attempts to play a one-two with Jorge Valdano after a delicious, mazy run. The ball is cut out, however, by Steve Hodge, who succeeds in diverting it toward England stopper Peter Shilton. El Diez is having none of it and leaps prodigiously to divert the ball, somehow, past the England ‘keeper.
The moment goes down in World Cup and sporting history as one of — if not the most — brazen example of cheating in an elite contest. Argentina would go on to win the 1986 title: a World Cup generally attributed to Maradona himself, rather than the collective.
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