World Cup 2014: Ranking Every Goal from 2nd-Round Games
The World Cup round of 16 didn't fail to impress and this year's knockout phases began in much tighter parameters than many will have expected.
Following on from a goal-laden group stage, only 18 goals were scored in the eight round-of-16 fixtures, with Brazil, Colombia, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Argentina and Belgium taking their places as quarter-finalists.
However, where this stage of the competition might have been lacking in quantity, it certainly was not in terms of quality, and several Goal of the Tournament candidates have been entered over the past four days alone.
Read on for a ranking of each goal scored in the round of 16, where own goals unsurprisingly gain less prominence simply for the usually lame fashion in which they're netted, while penalty shootouts have been omitted from the running.
18. Joseph Yobo Own Goal vs. France
Substitute Antoine Griezmann would have loved to call this score his, and the reaction of his French teammates was enough to make one think that the Real Sociedad star had indeed netted France's second against Nigeria.
However, Mathieu Valbuena's powered cross forced defender Joseph Yobo into prodding past Vincent Enyeama, making for a far less attractive goal.
As much as one would like to defend the former Everton utility, Yobo's mistake was an avoidable one to say the least, and his late reactions ultimately ended up costing his side, ending with a poor own goal to his record.
17. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar Penalty vs. Mexico
It's the cruelest fashion in which Mexico's World Cup dream could have come to an end, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's extra-time penalty sealed a 2-1 win for the Oranje that no Dutchman will forget in a hurry.
Arjen Robben drew Rafael Marquez's foul that gave Holland their spot-kick, but Huntelaar was the man who dispatched it, slotting a calm and accurate finish into the left-hand side netting.
Not only did it take great courage from the Schalke striker to take his chance, but his nerves proved to be unshakeable following a long wait between the decision being made and the whistle being blown.
16. Paul Pogba vs. Nigeria
As his game has evolved, it's an ameliorating trait of Paul Pogba that so too has his frequency in scoring goals of a more and more important nature, netting at critical times.
Such was the case on Monday, when after 79 minutes of stern, Nigerian resistance finally gave in, the Juventus midfielder was the man on hand to break the deadlock.
Vincent Enyeama came a long way to collect a French corner, and World Cup Vines show that after he could only get a fingertip to the ball, Pogba punished him with a long and looping header into the goal:
At these knockout stages of a competition, patience and the willingness to wait for a breakthrough can often be as important as flair and dazzling skill, Pogba displaying these attributes with a quality, reactive goal.
15. David Luiz vs. Chile
The opening goal of the round of 16 also saw David Luiz open his scoring account for the Brazil national team, grabbing the vital score to put Luiz Felipe Scolari's men in front against Chile.
And it was a goal that Jorge Sampaoli's side may have always been likely to concede as Neymar whipped in an 18th-minute corner that their South American foes weren't able to handle.
Thiago Silva craned his neck on the edge of the six-yard box to get a very useful tap toward goal with his head, Luiz evading his marker Gonzalo Jara at the far post to knee in from close range.
Goals directly netted from corners aren't regularly the prettiest, but reactions were at an optimum as the Selecao's centre-backs each showed some astute technique to ease the ball past Claudio Bravo, although there was a case for Jara getting the final touch.
14. Sokratis vs. Costa Rica
As their group-stage win over the Ivory Coast proved, it wouldn't be a proper Greek drama without some last-minute action, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos was the man who extended their World Cup dreams against Costa Rica.
Finally capitalising upon the second-half sending off of Costa Rica defender Oscar Duarte, Theofanis Gekas tested goalkeeper Keylor Navas from deep inside the Central Americans' box, only for Sokratis to follow up on the rebound, which bounced conveniently into his path.
Football Vines displays the last-gasp revival, Greece's centre-back pulling the game back to 1-1 and forcing extra time.
Prior to the goal, Fernando Santos' men were pressing hard to rescue this tie, and even though Costa Rica would go on to triumph on penalties, that can't take away from what was actually a supremely cool finish from the Borussia Dortmund centre-back.
13. Kevin De Bruyne vs. United States
Romelu Lukaku failed to live up to his expectations as Belgium's premier finisher during his team's early group-stage action, but the Chelsea man came off the bench to play a vital role in Kevin De Bruyne's opening strike against the United States.
Holding any and all challengers off down the right flank, Lukaku finds his former Blues teammate deep in Tim Howard's area. As World Soccer Talk shows, Jurgen Klinsmann's defence does its best to fend off the extra-time assault, but De Bruyne is on hand to rattle in at the far post:
Does the Wolfsburg attacker owe his opportunity to some tiring American legs? Perhaps, but his clinical strike across the face of Howard was impressive nonetheless, utilising his initiative to the fullest.
12. Mesut Ozil vs. Algeria
When it rains, it pours, and after going the first 92 minutes of their round-of-16 fixture against Algeria without scoring, Germany managed to net twice in extra time on Monday.
And after unselfishly attempting to play Andre Schurrle through on goal, the rebound fell to Ozil, who slammed home in the 119th minute to end Algeria's hopes in cruel fashion.
It glossed over an altogether poor display from Die Mannschaft, but in a clutch time of need, Ozil exuded calm, striking home with accuracy and intent after a long night's work.
11. Bryan Ruiz vs. Greece
In clutch games, any team would like to look upon their captain as the man they can count on for inspiration, and Bryan Ruiz provided just that for his team in the 52nd minute of their tie against Greece.
The Fulham playmaker has based a career on being a cool character capable of technical magic at times, and it was exactly that which allowed the Costa Rican to side-foot his second-half strike past Orestis Karnezis on Sunday.
Almost hitting a Christian Bolanos pass inside with his heel, Ruiz's opener had the Greek No. 1 rooted to the spot.
Long-range strikes came to the fore somewhat in the round of 16, but this was an altogether more collected goal than the laced finishes produced by others.
10. Angel di Maria vs. Switzerland
Having played the role of finisher supreme throughout their group fixtures, Lionel Messi turned architect for Argentina's 118th-minute breakthrough against Switzerland.
Alejandro Sabella's men lacked the final touch in front of goal and were staring penalties in the face when Messi strode forth from midfield, bearing down upon the Swiss box before opening up the platform for Angel di Maria to become a hero.
The Argentinian had several close opportunities leading up to this vital opener, but World Soccer Talk shows the winger finally making his mark, with Diego Benaglio not standing much of a chance at stopping it:
Messi's role in the 1-0 winner once again can't be underestimated, but Di Maria's well-executed finish so close to the death still warrants its own share of the praise.
9. Romelu Lukaku vs. United States
Belgium's opening goal against the United States on Tuesday evening involved substitute Lukaku coming on to set up De Bruyne for the game's first.
Twelve minutes into extra time, the roles reversed, and an overlapping run from the Chelsea striker ended with a sweetly struck effort being directed inside Howard's near post.
World Soccer Talk illustrates just how well Lukaku did to latch onto the first-time hit:
From De Bruyne's searing pace to Lukaku's carefully calculated run to the finish itself, this was a marvellously clean counter on the Europeans' part.
8. James Rodriguez's 2nd vs. Uruguay
The goal that put James Rodriguez into the lead as top scorer of this World Cup so far, the forward's second against Uruguay was a brilliant coming together of Colombia's brilliant team play.
From Pablo Armero's well-executed cross on the left corner of the Uruguayan box, Juan Cuadrado's unselfish header back into the melee at the far post set Rodriguez up for a simple finish past Fernando Muslera.
The Celeste No. 1 was helpless but to watch the Colombian's calmly side-footed finished roll past thanks to Cuadrado's terrific awareness, but the build-up to the score was some of the best in this round of 16.
7. Wesley Sneijder vs. Netherlands
Even the goalkeeping might of Guillermo Ochoa wasn't equal to this bullet, Wesley Sneijder almost bursting the Mexican net with a slam home from 17 yards.
In its setup, the goal is simple: Arjen Robben corner, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar header down, Sneijder rocket.
Considering how often it is that we see these kinds of opportunities spurned, blasted over under pressure, Sneijder does incredibly well to identify his gap and deliver in the 88th minute.
6. Abdelmoumene Djabou vs. Germany
Not to take anything away from Abdelmoumene Djabou, who grabbed a 121st-minute consolation goal for Algeria as they finished up 2-1 losers to Germany on Monday, but this goal was certainly all about the cross.
All throughout the Fennec Foxes' World Cup campaign, Sofiane Feghouli has evidently stood out as one of Valencia's more technically gifted talents, and the quality of his ball into the back post, displayed by the Straits Times, had "hit me" written all over it.
In a way, Djabou's late score made the defeat even harder to take for the Algerians, but they went out with a bang, finishing with a bit of style against Low's giants.
5. Julian Green vs. Belgium
Bayern Munich's Julian Green is a prospect for the United States to get excited about, and he showed against Belgium precisely why his development is being watched with a microscopic gaze.
In a split second on Tuesday evening, the 19-year-old evaded the marking of Toby Alderweireld, was found by a most delicate Michael Bradley chip over the defence and sliced his shot past Thibaut Courtois, as shown here by World Soccer Talk:
Evidently not daunted by the occasion of having to finish his opportunity in extra time and with his side 2-0 down at the time, there are few ways that Green could have done better in this particular setting.
4. Giovani dos Santos vs. Netherlands
He was denied breaking the deadlock several times by Cameroon in Mexico's opening World Cup fixture, but there was no chance of Giovani dos Santos having his goal against the Netherlands taken away.
Daley Blind may be critiqued for not applying more pressure on El Tri's No. 10, but this was every bit the piece of individual majesty as Dos Santos gets the extra yard necessary on his markers to blast home from long range.
By no means were Mexico going to find it easy to go ahead against the Dutch, but when one particular attacker possesses such flash-in-the pan brilliance, even the underdog has its chance at making history.
3. Alexis Sanchez vs. Brazil
Alexis Sanchez won't score many simpler goals than his equalising finish in Saturday's fixture against Brazil, but that's not to take away from just how much technique was shown as he pulled Chile back into their round of 16 tie.
A careless Marcelo throw-in right next to Brazil's own corner flag saw La Roja's high, pressing line take the ball in extremely valuable territory, and Eduardo Vargas was free to slot a pass in to the waiting Sanchez.
Inside the box, the Barcelona man took a touch, just about evading the incoming challenge of Thiago Silva, firing across Julio Cesar with an accuracy that the Selecao stopper wasn't equal to.
Admittedly, poor defence was what created the opening, but Chile showed a lurking sense of initiative and clinical finishing that's oh so true to their style.
2. Andre Schurrle vs. Algeria
Having ended normal time with the score shockingly still tied at 0-0, substitute Andre Schurrle was one of the fresher faces in Joachim Low's side who arguably shouldered more responsibility in ensuring the Europeans booked a quarter-final place.
And in the second minute of extra time, not only did the Chelsea man pop up with a crucial opener for his side, but he managed to inject a substantial amount of flair into the finish, back-heeling past Rais M'Bolhi with aplomb.
There are long-range "thronkers," and then there are altogether more delicate finishes of this nature, just as great or arguably even greater in terms of quality, especially given the circumstances at the time.
1. James Rodriguez's 1st vs. Uruguay
If James Rodriguez goes on to win the Golden Boot in this year's tournament, the opener against Uruguay will take some beating as the most impressive of his lot.
The first 20 minutes of Colombia's clash against La Celeste were tense and free of clear-cut scoring chances for either side, but the Monaco attacker changed all that when he chested an Abel Aguilar header near the semi-circle of La Celeste's area.
Sideways on goal, Rodriguez pivoted with extreme agility, wrapping his left boot around the ball to beat Fernando Muslera from all of 25 yards, scorching his fourth goal of the competition off the underbelly of Uruguay's crossbar, bouncing the ball into the roof of the top-left corner.
Catching the woodwork can often make goals look so much sweeter, and that was certainly the case here as Rodriguez grabbed a sensational candidate for Goal of the Tournament.
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