Great World Cup Soccer Matches
The FIFA Soccer World Cup has developed into the most-watched sports event in world, and has led to many memorable moments.
THE 1986 FIFA WORLD CUP QUARTER FINAL: ARGENTINA VS ENGLAND
One of the most famous matches in Soccer World Cup history was the quarter final between Argentina and England in 1986. The game was held four years after the Falklands War between the two countries which lead to an intense football rivalry between the two nations.
It was Diego Maradona’s time to shine. During the match he scored two of the most famous goals in football history. The first goal was scored with an illegal handball which the referee allowed. At the press conference afterwards Maradona said the goal was scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God". The goal became known as the "Hand of God".
The second goal was scored a few minutes later when Maradona dribbled past six England players to score. This goal was voted "Goal of the Century" in 2002 on the FIFA website. The result of the goal was that Argentina won the game 2–1 and went on to win the 1986 World Cup. Outside the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City where the match took place, a statue of Maradona scoring this goal was erected to commemorate this famous moment in soccer history.
THE 1966 FIFA WORLD CUP FINAL: ENGLAND VS WEST GERMANY
This dramatic match was played in Wembley Stadium, the "Cathedral of Soccer", in front of 80,000 English supporters. The Germans scored first, quickly followed by an English equaliser scored by Geoff Hurst. At the end of the match it was two goals each and the game was extended by 30 minutes (then the standard extra time).
Although the German side was admirable in their fight, they proved no match for Geoff Hurst and his side. The man played the game of a lifetime. His second goal swirled past the goal line then back onto the pitch, where the referee awarded the controversial goal.
Many would have doubted that the England soccer team were the deserving winners of Soccer World Cup '66 had it not been for another strike from Geoff Hurst 1 minute before the end of extra time. He dribbled through a shocked German defence and scored his hat trick of the day, triggering an outburst of people from the crowd running onto the pitch in celebration.
THE 2002 FIFA WORLD CUP KOREA/JAPAN TOURNAMENT
The 2002 Soccer World Cup in Korea / Japan was characterized by many firsts. It was the first time the World Cup was held in Asia. It was the first time a tournament was co-hosted, and it was the first time fringe teams became a serious threat to the old soccer world order.
In one of the first matches, Senegal shocked and surprised the world when they beat France. Senegal and other teams like Turkey introduced fans to a new style of football combining high physical ability, outstanding skill and polished teamwork. The soccer world order began to wobble as the quarter-finalists comprised four teams from Europe (including Turkey), as well as a representative each from South America, North/Central America, Asia and Africa.
Many people saw this as confirmation that there were no longer any minnows in international football. Although the final was between Brazil and Germany, with Brazil taking the cup, the third place went to Turkey and the forth place to Korea Republic. After a poor showing at World Cup 2006, the world waits to see if these "new" faces on the soccer world stage can forge ahead to make an impact in 2010 or whether the "old order" will be reaffirmed.
WORLD CUP FINAL 2006
The final in Soccer World Cup 2006 will long be remembered for the incident when Zinedine Zidane was sent off the pitch for head butting Italy's defender Marco Matterazzi. The final was decided on penalties for only the second time in World Cup history. Italy won their fourth world crown in Germany, beating France on penalties in Berlin.
2006 will also be remembered for widespread speculation on the abuse of the fair play principle. The habit that involves players staying down for no apparent reason after minor collisions, causing frequent breaks in play, was increasingly in evidence. What unquestionably began as a gesture of fair play developing into a method of disrupting the other team’s play. Analysts and fans are waiting to see if this irritating habit will continue to mar the spectator appeal of the tournament in 2010.