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25 Most Memorable Moments of 2014 World Cup

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2014

25 Most Memorable Moments of 2014 World Cup

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    The closing curtain has come down on the 2014 FIFA World Cup after a tense, tight final between Germany and Argentina saw the European side triumph 1-0 after extra time.

    It has been a month of spectacular entertainment in Brazil, with early games bringing an abundance of goals, incidents and surprises. It also featured a handful of shock progressions or eliminations and, of course, some extremely tense knockout games.

    Brazil 2014 has undoubtedly been a World Cup to remember. Here are 25 of our favourite moments, and we'll be sticking firmly to the positives (i.e., Luis Suarez biting Giorgio Chiellini doesn't qualify). Feel free to leave your own memorable moments below.

25. Iran Ensuring All 32 Nations Found the Net

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Iran kept a clean sheet against Nigeria and held out for a long time against Argentina, eventually succumbing to a 1-0 defeat. By the time they reached their final game against Bosnia and Herzegovina, there was little point in them only looking to defend.

    Naturally, they were unable to match their rivals for on-the-ball effort but still managed to find the back of the net in a 3-1 defeat.

    Fittingly, in a World Cup tournament which was notable for its attacking play and excitement in the group stages, it meant all 32 countries who played at Brazil 2014 had managed to score at least once.

24. Louis van Gaal Making It a Dutch 23

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    Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    The third-place play-off might not be to every fan's taste, but it remains a fixture of the World Cup.

    The Netherlands ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Brazil, with a particularly nice touch coming for the Dutch side in the final moments of the game.

    Third-choice keeper Michel Vorm came on for Jasper Cillessen, making it all 23 participating squad members who had taken to the field for the Netherlands over the course of their seven matches at the finals.

23. The Moment When Spain's Grip on the World Cup Was Irrevocably Loosened

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    While watching a team go out of the finals isn't something to be cheered, per se, it certainly marked the end of an era—and the realisation that we'd have a new World Cup winner to look forward to.

    Charles Aranguiz hit the second goal in a 2-0 win for Chile over the reigning champions, effectively sealing their second defeat in two games and knocking Spain out at the group stage.

22. Luis Suarez's Net-Busting Winner

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    Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

    Uruguay missed their world-class forward Luis Suarez in their first group game, but he came back with a vengeance for the next game against England.

    Having already put his side ahead earlier in the match, Suarez evaded the defence to ram home an unstoppable second goal and claim a 2-1 win for his side, paving the way for progress to the knockouts.

    Of course, his tournament ended on a sour note in the very next game, but Uruguay made it to the last 16.

21. John Brooks' Reaction

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    Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

    "Oh my God, have I actually just done that?!"

    John Brooks' facial expressions after heading in a winning goal at the World Cup finals for United States against Ghana told a complete story of its own.

    The 21-year-old had only come on in the game as a substitute and looked fairly accomplished as he did his main defensive duties. But his header, four minutes from the end, gave his nation a priceless three points.

20. The 1st Late, Late Winning Goal: Switzerland

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    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Switzerland struggled at times against Ecuador in their group-stage game, but they provided viewers with one of the earliest reminders that the game lasts the full 90 minutes and beyond.

    Looking to settle for a draw, Switzerland had to see off a late attack by their opponents. They then raced up the other end and took the three points themselves, with Haris Seferovic sweeping home Ricardo Rodriguez's cross from the left.

    Cue ensuing mayhem and madness in the celebrations.

19. Algeria's 10-Minute Blitz of Korea Republic

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Algeria were the most impressive of all the African performers, doing themselves more than proud as they made the knockout stages of the World Cup.

    Their best performance came as they swept Korea Republic aside, crashing in three first-half goals against their Asian opponents to claim a surprising 3-0 lead at the break. Aggressive, offensive and cutting in all the right ways on the pitch, Algeria were well worth their eventual 4-2 victory.

    It was no random win or bout of lucky breaks; the team had a game plan which it executed to perfection, and Korea Republic simply had no answer.

18. Thomas Mueller's Hat-Trick

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    Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    Only two hat-tricks were scored at the World Cup in Brazil, with Germany's Thomas Mueller the scorer of the first (Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri had the other versus Honduras).

    He hit a treble in a 4-0 route of Portugal on Day 5 of the tournament, scoring an early penalty and rounding his scoring off with a close-range finish.

    Mueller went on to notch five in total at the World Cup, including one in the semi-finals, taking himself to a total of 10 goals from just two tournaments in his career—and no doubt with an eye on the record in future tournaments.

17. Tim Cahill's Volley

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    A handful of goals were more than memorable for varying reasons, and Australia's Tim Cahill scored one of the earliest wonder hits.

    Although it counted for little in terms of the result in the end, Cahill hit a sumptuous volley against the Netherlands, cracking his shot in off the crossbar. In his final World Cup, Cahill was impressive in leading the line and netting two goals in his two games.

16. Messi Finally Downs Iran

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Moments of genius from world-class players are part of the World Cup's most appealing attribute.

    A frustrating 0-0 draw for Argentina, highly fancied as challengers for the trophy, against Iran would have been a real shock result. For a moment, it looked possible, but then Lionel Messi made one more run.

    A 90th-minute dribble, cut infield and bending shot toward the far corner beat two lunging defenders and the diving goalkeeper, and one point became three in the blink of an eye. Such is the difference between the very top draw and the rest of the world at times.

15. Ochoa vs. Brazil

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    Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

    Goals often make headlines, but Brazil vs. Mexico was one of the most entertaining and memorable 0-0 scorelines of all time.

    Mexico had their own chances, but it was the continued heroics of their goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, who really kept the score blank.

    Ochoa made four top-class saves during the game to preserve his clean sheet, earning the acclaim of all afterward—and he doesn't even have a club at the moment.

14. Greece Making the Knockouts with Seconds to Spare

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    If Switzerland's late winner over Ecuador was dramatic, it was nothing compared to Greece's win over Ivory Coast.

    A 1-1 draw, as the scoreline stated moving into injury time of the last round of group games, safely saw the African side through to the knockouts, with Greece being eliminated.

    With seconds left on the clock, though, Greece won and converted a penalty, reversing the teams' roles and moving into the last 16 themselves at the expense of the devastated Ivory Coast players—none more so than Giovanni Sio, who gave away the foul.

13. Tim Howard's Record-Breaking Performance Against Belgium

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    All kinds of records were broken during the 2014 World Cup, and United States goalkeeper Tim Howard was one of those whose name was going into the history books.

    A phenomenal performance in the round-of-16 game against Belgium saw Howard make 16 saves during the 120 minutes, more than any other goalkeeper in the history of the World Cup in a single match.

    Vincent Kompany, Kevin de Bruyne and Divock Origi were among those thwarted by Howard as he put up a spectacular resistance against the Belgians, until he was finally beaten twice in extra time as USA exited in a 2-1 defeat.

12. Costa Rica Sweeping All Before Them

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    When the groups were drawn for the finals, most people could predict one team who might progress from each of the eight quartets and, in many cases, one who would definitely not go through.

    Costa Rica were the vast majority's choice for finishing bottom of Group D—but they improbably beat previous winners Uruguay and Italy and drew against England, ending top of the group.

    They then made their way past Greece in the last 16, only finally seeing an end to their record-breaking resilience as the Netherlands eliminated them on penalties in the quarter-finals.

11. Shaqiri's Hat-Trick

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    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Xherdan Shaqiri put in some mixed displays during his side's World Cup campaign, but there is no doubting the brilliance of his effort against Honduras.

    A win for Switzerland on the final group day was enough to send them through to the round of 16, and talented attacking midfielder Shaqiri found the route to goal on three occasions, netting only the second (and final) hat-trick of the 2014 World Cup.

    His best goal was a well-worked strike which he curled beyond the keeper into the top corner from range.

10. Van Persieing

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Pick your favourite: When Robin van Persie sent himself launching through the air for the Netherlands against Spain, he spawned one of the goals of the tournament, a social media craze and a dramatic, unexpected, completely comprehensive Dutch comeback.

    His flying leap to divert Daley Blind's cross from deep looped over Iker Casillas and made it 1-1 in the group-stage game before the Netherlands went on to win 5-1.

    And everybody from your average Twitter user to the striker's own grandfather got in on the act, copying his landing stance on the floor.

9. Netherlands' 2-Minute Comeback to Knock Out Mexico

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Mexico were on the verge of making history as they looked to protect a 1-0 lead over the Netherlands in the round of 16, moving into the last couple of minutes of the match.

    A few short moments later, they were out.

    Wesley Sneijder slammed in an equaliser, and then Arjen Robben won a penalty, which Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted. It was a smash, smash again and grab by the Dutch, the most amazing of late occurrences in any of the knockout matches and a terrible ordeal for Mexico to live with.

8. Welcoming James Rodriguez to the World Stage

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    Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

    Unless you happened to watch much Liga Sagres or Ligue 1 football over the past couple of seasons, viewers might not have been too familiar with Colombian sensation James Rodriguez prior to the World Cup.

    Safe to say, following an excellent tournament where he won the Golden Boot and was many viewers' tip for the Golden Ball award too, his talents are firmly in the public eye now.

    Rodriguez was superb in his technique, transition play and, crucially, end product around the penalty area, even netting the goal of the tournament with a chest and volleyed effort against Uruguay.

7. Brazilian National Anthem in the Semi-Final

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    There were a number of impressive renditions of various national anthems throughout the tournament, but Brazil's vocal performance ahead of their semi-final against Germany takes top spot.

    From the ball boys to the fans and certainly the players themselves, the second verse—without music—was passionate, full-blooded and full of belief.

    That was as good as it got for the host nation in that game, but it was extremely impressive nonetheless.

6. Javier Mascherano's World Cup-Saving Tackle

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    World Cups might eventually be won when the ball is put into the net, but an awful lot of work has to go into making sure that doesn't happen at the other end, too.

    Javier Mascherano kept his Argentina side in the World Cup, make no mistake about it, with a tremendous covering run and sliding tackle on Arjen Robben, who was set to pounce and score in the last minute of the semi-final.

    On his left foot, from close range...it was almost certainly going in. Mascherano saved his side from that exit with an immaculate block, the single most impressive defensive moment of the tournament.

5. Miroslav Klose Makes World Cup History

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Miroslav Klose came into the World Cup just one goal behind the all-time record scorer, Ronaldo, for goals at the World Cup finals.

    In a 2-2 draw with Ghana, he equalled the record, scoring moments after coming on as sub. Then he knocked home Germany's second in the semi-final against Brazil to claim the new record in his own right.

    With 16 goals spread over four World Cup finals, Klose made history and went on to help win the World Cup final itself, the biggest prize of all.

4. Tim Krul's Substitute Appearance

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Louis van Gaal saw fit to make a third and final substitution in the 120th minute of his Netherlands side's World Cup quarter-final tie against Costa Rica. That was normal enough; introducing his second-choice goalkeeper, however, was not.

    It was inspired, though, as Tim Krul made two saves to ensure the Netherlands progressed to the last four, where penalties were once more required to separate the two teams.

    Krul wasn't called upon that time—and the Netherlands lost.

3. The Entire Brazil vs. Chile Round-of-16 Game

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Some matches cannot be dissected and pulled apart, searching for a crucial moment or instance, without losing the entire ethos of what made it so eminently watchable.

    Brazil vs. Chile, in the first knockout stage, was exactly such a match.

    The atmosphere was terrific and the players impressive. There were goals in open play, drama, excitement and tension aplenty—and almost a late, late winner for Chile, too, before the increased all-round thrill factor of the penalty shootout.

    Disregarding what came after and as a standalone game, this was perhaps the best fixture of the entire 2014 World Cup.

2. 18 Minutes in Belo Horizonte

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    The World Cup semi-final: a traditionally tight, tense, cagey affair.

    Brazil vs. Germany: the scene of a massacre.

    It took 11 minutes for the European side to breach the hosts' defence, and fewer than 20 minutes later a one-goal deficit had become a five-goal embarrassment.

    Germany ripped apart Brazil's fragile, unprotected defence; showed fast, attacking football to remain the most thrilling spectacle in the game; and sauntered through to the final itself with an eventual 7-1 win.

1. Mario Goetze's World Cup Winner

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    Mario Goetze had an up-and-down World Cup, earning a starting spot initially before losing his place and having to make do with a sub's spot for the final.

    He came on to have the biggest impact of all, though, finding space to brilliantly control and volley in the winning goal, a strike which will be replayed over and over again for years to come.

    In one single moment, Goetze ensured he would forever be associated with the World Cup and his national team as he helped Germany beat Argentina and claim his nation's first finals success since 1990.

     

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