World Cup: Thrills at every turn

10 memorable moments at the 2018 Finals in Russia

1. FAIRY-TALE START

Substitute Denis Cheryshev celebrates scoring against Saudi Arabia in the World Cup opener. His unlikely brace after replacing injured star Alan Dzagoev foretold a fairy-tale run for player and nation alike. Cheryshev went on to score the opening goal against Croatia in the quarter-finals, where their run came to an end.

2. BEND IT LIKE... RONALDO

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo bends a free kick around the Spain wall and into the top corner to complete his hat-trick against the 2010 champions. The 88th-minute goal earned Portugal a 3-3 draw in Sochi.

3. VAR IN ACTION

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) awards a historic penalty after reviewing Australian Josh Rishdon’s foul on France’s Antoine Griezmann. Griezmann then converted the first spot kick given by VAR, which had reversed the referee’s decision, and France went on to win the Group C game 2-1. 

4. NEYMAR‘S NEW POSE

Brazil talisman Neymar goes down in the penalty box under the nose of Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzalez in their Group E game. A penalty was initially awarded but reversed after consultation with VAR, adding to the criticism that Neymar received for over-reacting to challenges. Brazil needed two stoppage-time goals to see off Costa Rica 2-0.

5. GOODBYE GERMANY

South Korea huddle up after becoming the first Asian side to beat Germany at the World Cup, knocking out the defending champions by winning their final Group F game 2-0 as Toni Kroos walks off the Kazan Arena pitch.

6. BONJOUR MBAPPE

Argentina’s five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is overshadowed by the electrifying 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe in the round of 16. The France forward’s brace in the 4-3 thriller sent the South Americans out of the tournament.

7. BELGIAN HEARTBREAKERS

Belgium players (anti-clockwise from front) Romelu Lukaku, Nacer Chadli, Kevin de Bruyne and Thomas Meunier celebrate a last-gasp victory over Japan in the round of 16. Chadli finished off a counter-attack – 9.94 seconds after Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois rolled the ball out of his penalty box – to complete a 3-2 turnaround after trailing 2-0. 

8. ENGLAND, AT LAST

England are ecstatic while Colombia are crushed after Eric Dier’s winning spot-kick gives the Three Lions a 4-3 win in the shoot-out. It was the first time England won on penalties in a major tournament since defeating Spain at Euro 1996. It earned them a berth in the quarter-finals. 

9. FAULTY FOOTWORK 


Switzerland centre-back Manuel Akanji is inconsolable after the end of their round-of-16 clash against Sweden. Sweden midfielder Emil Forsberg’s shot deflected off Akanji’s right foot for the only goal of the match. 

10. CROATIA FINALLY

Striker Mario Mandzukic reflects after his extra-time winner against England sends Croatia into the World Cup final.

PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE, REUTERS.