by Michael Phillips - 03/30/2006
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Lists like this run the risk of becoming boring, with the same goals cropping up again and again. Often, the goals featured are all modern, because of the increased television coverage of the World Cup in recent years. So rather than just picking the 'best', we've decided on the most memorable; goals of quality, sure, but also goals that stick in the mind because of their timing or their wider effect. So, in reverse order:
10. Paolo Rossi, Italy 3 v 2 Brazil, 1982, group stage.
Rossi exploded onto the world scene with a hat trick in this vital game against Brazil, one that the Italians had to win. The pick was the second, which levelled the scores. Rossi latched on to a misplaced pass in the Brazilian defence and hammered the ball home from the edge of the box. Italy escaped a fiendishly difficult group, went on to win the tournament, and Rossi was given the Italian equivalent of a knighthood.
9. Lakhdar Belloumi, Algeria 2 v 1 Germany. 1982, group stage.
Algeria went out in the group stage of the tournament, but not before shocking then European Champions Germany. Belloumi's winner was a cool finish at the end of some great interplay down the wing between teammates Assad and Zidane. The result changed the presiding opinion of African football as backwards, and Belloumi is still regarded as one of the greatest African players ever.
8. Ronaldinho, Brazil 2 v 1 England, 2002, quarterfinal.
Goals of this sort generate water-cooler debate. Players always claim that they meant to shoot, but then, they would say that. The Brazilian wizard's version of events says that he spotted the ageing England goalkeeper David Seaman off his line, and purposely lobbed a free-kick in from the right touchline 40 yards out. According to most Englishmen, he sliced his cross.
7. Arie Haan, Holland 2 v 1 Italy, 1978, second group stage.
Holland needed a point from this match to reach the final, and Haan made their passage safe with this screamer. Dutch teams of the 1970s were known for the intricate passing and movement, but Haan simply looked up when 35 yards out and thumped the ball into the top corner, leaving Dino Zoff, the world's best goalkeeper, waving at the ball as it flew past him.
6. Michael Owen, England 2 v 2 Argentina, (Argentina win on penalties), 1998, second round.
An England team seeking revenge for the injustice of defeat to Argentina in 1986 (see No. 5) eventually lost, but 18 year-old Owen's goal propelled him to world stardom and summed up the fearlessness of youth. Owen picked up the ball inside his own half and, undeterred by the fact that half the Argentina team were amassed in front of him, slalomed past them and barged better placed team mate Paul Scholes out of the way to finish high into the net.
5. Lothar Mathias, Germany 4 v 1 Yugoslavia, 1990 group stage.
A truly majestic goal from a player moulded in the tradition of the German attacking defender, started by Franz Beckenbauer before him. Mathias picked up the ball in his own half before weaving between the Yugoslav players and drilling the ball into the bottom corner, setting Germany on the way to the trophy.
4. Diego Maradonna, Argentina 4 v 0 Greece, group stage.
It might seem perverse not to choose one of Maradonna's two goals against England in the 1986 quarterfinal, either the sublime 70-yard dribble or the infamous Hand of God. But the goal against Greece epitomises Maradonna. It was sublime; he jinked between two defenders before smashing the ball in from the edge of the box. But his celebration, where he ran screaming towards a TV camera, eyeballs bulging, prompted FIFA to drug test him, and he was sent home in disgrace for using performance-enhancing substances.
3. Pele, Brazil 4 v 1 Czechoslovakia, group stage.
Pele has scored some incredible goals, including two crackers in World Cup finals 12 years apart. But perhaps his two greatest moments were near misses in this group game. First, he spotted Czech goalkeeper Viktor off his line and shot from inside his own half, missing narrowly. Players try this today with a ball twice as light. But perhaps the greatest goal never scored came later, when rather than simply latching on to a through-ball, Pele ran across its path, letting the ball go past him. Viktor was flummoxed and shifted his weight to follow Pele's movement, not knowing where the ball was, as Pele turned in the other direction and screwed his shot just past the post.
2. Dennis Bergkamp, Holland 2 v 1 Argentina, 1998, quarterfinal.
In the last minute of this dirty match, Frank de Boer floated a hopeful long pass to Bergkamp, who was loitering just outside the penalty area. As he moved inside the box, he cushioned the ball, then touched it through an advancing defender's legs, twisted inside him, and fired high into the net. As he celebrated he covered his face with his hands, overcome with the beauty of what he had achieved. In an interview he later claimed to have no memory of what he had done, and could only recall the pass coming towards him and the celebration afterwards, making the goal a feat of pure instinct rather than technique.
1. Carlos Alberto, Brazil 4 v 1 Italy, 1970, final.
The greatest goal ever scored by the greatest team that ever played. With the final already won, Brazil scored a goal that no Nike advert would dream of choreographing. The build-up comprised individual skill and great passing just to get the ball into the final third of the pitch. Pele received the ball and stopped stock still, waiting for his captain, Alberto, whom he knew would be arriving outside him. He then caressed the ball into his path, where it sat up perfectly for him to lash home with a joyous flourish from the corner of the box. The perfect image of what soccer can be, and why it is called the beautiful game.