The first round of the World Cup came to an end with Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday. It certainly won’t be forgotten anytime soon as it was a round full of great results and a few surprises. Here is a summary of both categories.
Enner Valencia (Ecuador)
Enner Valencia has proven why he wears his country’s captain’s armband. He is in exceptional form and plays at a remarkably high level. Not only did he score a goal in the 3rd minute that was ruled out by VAR for offside, but just minutes later he calmly parried off a PK to put Ecuador ahead and then gave us that lovely header to make it 2-0 and give Ecuador a comfortable lead that the hosts never dared to jeopardize. First-class quality for the start of the World Cup.
Tim Weah (USA)
Yes, Tim Weah put it in perfectly to beat the challenging Wayne Hennessey. But more than the goal itself, it’s the way the game came about, from the double header passes in midfield from Pulisic and Musah to the great follow-up, a chested pass from Josh Sargent that sent the ball back to Pulisic goes. followed by Pulisic’s ride and his lovely touch for Weah who finished brilliantly. Just an all-round great team goal and one that you rarely see.
Salem Al-Dawsari (Saudi Arabia)
A wonderful goal from the Saudi player who did it all on his own; He got a pop-up in Argentina’s box, had to win the ball between two Argentine defenders and dribble off a third, barely making his shot before another sliding defender got to him first. Not to mention it was placed in the far top corner where Emiliano Martínez barely got a scratch but not enough to keep it from going into the net.
João Felix (Portugal)
The Atlético de Madrid striker’s goal is certainly a great finish, but it wouldn’t be what it is without team-mate Bruno Fernandes’ stunning assist. A true master class of what a through ball is, his through ball cut through Ghana’s defense like a knife through butter. A super pass followed by a quality finish gave us one of the best goals of the first half.
Best goal of the tournament so far. miles away. Maybe the whole cup? A great shot from Vinicius who served the ball to Richarlison. The Tottenham Hotspur striker’s control was a little high but he improvised masterfully, scoring on an overhead kick to slam the ball into the bottom left corner. A truly superb goal to put the goal out of reach in a game totally owned by Brazil who, despite Neymar’s injury, are on track to not only win the group but the whole game.
Gareth Bale’s PK goal
That PK goal not only marked Wales’ first World Cup goal in 64 years, but also saved Wales a point from a seemingly certain defeat to the USA. That big goal keeps Wales and USA still a point behind England in second place in the group, with very high hopes of progressing through the group stage. Had he missed her, her hopes would be looking pretty bleak by now.
Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1
In what may be the greatest upset in World Cup history, the Saudis overcame all manner of adversities, not to mention falling behind against a Messi-led team. They held their own and returned to defeat a heavily favored Argentina squad who see anything but winning the cup as a disappointment. BIG result. Probably the greatest moment this World Cup will see no matter what, but by far the greatest moment of this first round, which makes it even bigger given Saudi Arabia’s historically poor World Cup performances.
Mexico’s ‘Memo’ Ochoa heroic PK save against Lewandowski
In a game Mexico was set to lose, Robert Lewandowski’s PK in the 58th minute came close to making that happen. Under the goalposts, however, was ‘Memo’ Ochoa, who has made some massive saves at previous World Cups throughout his career, most notably Brazil 2014. This was no exception as he guessed the point brilliantly and not only kept but saved a point for Mexico, which is currently living in its group thanks to this parade.
Japan comes from behind to piss off Germany
Germany played a damn good game but missed important chances to extend their lead. At the same time, Japan didn’t let up and kept pushing until they not only equalized but also scored through a great shot from Takuma Asano. Another big surprise, but considering Japan has had a history of success on this world stage, it doesn’t rank above Saudi Arabia. Still, a tremendous result that was totally unexpected as the Germans had the game firmly under control for the first 75 minutes. Group E could well belong to Spain now.
Spain’s historic 7-0 win over Costa Rica
It was by no means the highest-scoring game of all time at a World Cup, but what Luis Enrique’s side did yesterday was certainly historic in Spain’s record books. It’s their best performance in World Cup history and absolutely destroyed Keylor Navas’ goal with 6 different players to score the 7 goals. With Germany’s defeat and goal difference a huge advantage for the Spaniards, the way has been paved for the top of the group.