FIFA World Cup 2018: More late goals than ever add to the drama
The twentieth edition of the FIFA World Cup has seen 20 goals after the 90th minute, more than in the last three editions combined.football Updated: Jul 02, 2018 19:40 IST
Every minute counts at the Fifa World Cup and this is not a matter of real debate. But in Russia 2018, a lot of those minutes injury time ended up counting more than ever.
Already, this edition has produced some pulsating football, some spectacular goals and some even more shocking results. But it has also produced 20 goals after the 90th minute, more than the last three tournaments combined.
Some of those goals were inconsequential, not in terms of quality or personal value, but in terms of relevance. But then there were few that had a more far-reaching effect, and in many ways raised the pedigree of this World Cup in comparison to foregone editions.
One for and two against
Defending champions Germany will understand more than others, the feeling of triumphing at the death. They were celebrating at Sweden’s expense in the second group match, after Toni Kroos had handed their World Cup campaign a fresh lease of life with a wonderful goal five minutes into injury time.
Kroos’s late strike meant that all Germany had to do, was defeat an unfancied South Korean side in their final group game to progress. Struggling to create a clear cut chance in normal time, they even had six minutes added to the 90 to salvage their campaign.
But it South Korea’s Young-Gwon Kim, who struck two minutes into that time and sealed Germany’s fate. Less than four minutes later, Tottenham Hotspurs star Heung-Min Son raced from his half to guide the ball into an empty net to send Germany packing out of the World Cup in the first round for the first time in 80 years.
Spain were trailing against Morocco in their final group game in Kaliningrad. Some 200 kilometers away in Saransk, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were on the cusp of a victory over Iran that would have certainly guaranteed them first spot in the group.
Ricardo Quaresma had put the European champions ahead with a sublime strike in the closing minutes of the first half. Ronaldo had then passed up an opportunity to bury the game when his penalty was saved eight minutes after half-time. And it appeared as if the miss would not cost them, but VAR had other ideas.
The video assistant referee awarded Iran a dubious penalty in injury time. After a three-minute delay, in the 93rd minute, Karim Ansarifard stepped up to dispatch the ball into the roof of the net. Iran almost found the winner that could have knocked Portugal out.
But even the draw would cost the Portuguese contingent in the end. Spain had found a late equaliser, which meant that both teams finished on five points. Spain took top spot on fair play rules, handing second placed Portugal a tricky round of 16 tie against Uruguay, a game they lost 2-1.
Too late but good enough
Having drawn their first game against Switzerland, Brazil had to win their second against Costa Rica, especially when they were set to face a well-balanced Serbia in their last group game. The Selecao were wasteful in both halves and the pressure was mounting.
But in 91st minute Philippe Coutinho rescued the five time world champions to toe-poke a Gabriel Jesus pass into the back of the net. Neymar then wrapped up the points late on with a simple finish after a clever break by Costa in the 96th minute.
Mattered in the end
Switzerland’s progression to the round of 16 would eventually go down to Xherdan Shaqiri’s 90th-minute winner against Serbia in their second group game.
They had drawn their first against Brazil and they ended up drawing their final game against Costa Rica after an own goal by goalkeeper Yann Sommer in the 93rd minute.
Shaqiri’s goal in injury time handed the Swiss their only full points in the group stage, without which they would have ended on third position with just three points.
First Published: Jul 02, 2018 19:39 IST