And just like that, it’s over. The twenty-second World Cup is over. What was already a tournament like no other before a ball was kicked has passed and with it is left behind an (on the pitch) legacy that can rival any World Cup. In a tournament filled with history makers, upsets and iconic moments, here are the ten best moments from the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
10 – Davies breaks Canada’s goal drought
Full disclosure, as someone who lives in Canada and closely follows this team, this is a biased opinion. But that doesn’t make it all the less deserving of a spot. Canada went into World Cup as an unknown, a country where football often takes a significant backseat to ice hockey whose qualification for Qatar 2022 took many by surprise. They got the world’s attention against Belgium, doing everything but scoring in an undeserved 1-0 loss to the number two-ranked team in the world. It meant that after four games and thirty-six games, Canada still hadn’t scored at the men’s World Cup.
Against Croatia, the odds were just as staked against then, but just as they did against Belgium, Les Rouges went on the offensive. A ball into the box by Tajon Buchanan was met by Alphonso Davies, who put Canada ahead a minute into the game, the fastest goal in the 2022 World Cup! It was a moment of jubilation thirty-six years in the making, a moment of release for a country desperate to show it belongs on the world stage. It wasn’t to be on the day, eventual semifinalists Croatia went on to win 4-1. But Canada finally had their world cup goal and a moment that will live long in Canada ahead of their home World Cup in 2026.
9 – Netherlands late, late, late equaliser against Argentina
In an effort to combat time wasting, FIFA gave referees the mandate to add significant amounts of additional to the end of games. Instead of games ending with three or four additional minutes, suddenly they were ending typically with anywhere between ten to thirteen minutes added on. It was inevitable that we were going to get a dramatic and incredibly late equaliser in this tournament, and no moment encapsulated that more than the final seconds of the quarterfinal between Netherlands and Argentina.
After it looked like Argentina they were in a commanding 2-0 lead, the Dutch pulled one back through Wout Weghorst on the eighty-third minute, and if there was a more traditional amount of time added on, it wouldn’t have been enough. But with ten minutes added on, the Dutch had seventeen minutes after their initial goal to lush for an equaliser. In the last minute of added-on time, they got a free kick in a dangerous position, Teun Koopmeiners passed the ball directly to Weghorst who did enough to force the ball home, sparking scenes of jubilation from the Netherlands. It was the latest goal in World Cup history, and although they eventually lost to Argentina on penalties – it was a moment that would define the large amounts of added-on time in the tournament.
8 – Ronaldo scores in five consecutive World Cup
It’s easy to forget how good Cristiano Ronaldo has been, his last couple of seasons have seen a stark decline from his incredible peak. But he is arguably the greatest to play this sport, at his best, Ronaldo was quite literally an unstoppable force of power. Portugal hasn’t won a World Cup during his era, but he has been part of five World Cup squads for Portugal, in context Portugal has only been to three World Cups before he made his Portugal debut.
Ronaldo scored in 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018, meaning that in Portugal’s opening game against Ghana, Ronaldo had the opportunity to make history. His moment came when Portugal won a penalty on the sixty-fifth minute when he fired the ball past Lawrence Ati-Zigi to give Portugal the lead. Ronaldo had never had a defining World Cup in the way Messi or Modric has, but he is the only man to score in five World Cups, a record and moment that no one can take away from him.
7 – Australia overcomes the odds to make the last sixteen
Going into this World Cup, the Australians were expected to do nothing other than just make up the numbers in a group that included France, Denmark, and Tunisia. The Socceroos had barely scraped into the tournament, and unlike in previous tournaments, they were lacking any players at the so-called elite level. Australia surprisingly took the lead in their first game against France, but it looked like a flash in the pan as the 2018 World Cup winners ran out 4-1 winners.
But the Aussies didn’t look back! In a do-or-die against Tunisia, Mitchell Duke – who plays in Japan’s second tier gave Australia a shock lead which they held onto, giving the Aussies their first World Cup win since 2010. Australia went into their game against Denmark knowing that more than likely, a draw would see them in the last sixteen, but a shock Tunisia win over France meant they would have to win. Fortunately, their moment came on the hour mark, a great run and solo goal from Matthew Leckie was enough to separate the two teams on the day, and for the first time since 2006, Austria had reached the last sixteen – sparking scenes of joy across the land down under.
6 – Iran don’t sing their national anthem
Iran has been going through a turbulent revolution recently in the name of woman’s rights and emancipation. Hundreds of Iranians have been killed by the Iranian government trying to squash the protests, and the government would’ve been hoping the Iranian football team could’ve provided a welcomed distraction and sportswashing amongst all the turbulence.
But incredibly, the entire Iranian team stood in complete silence, refusing to sing their national anthem before their game against England. In a World Cup dominated by the sidelining of human rights and social issues, it was a powerful display of courage and defiance in the face of oppression in their homeland. Iran lost their game to England 6-2, but their message to the Iranian government was arguably much more impactful than any football result possibly could’ve been.
5 – Japan wins Group E
Who saw this coming when the draw was made? Japan was considered by most the best Asian team heading into 2022, but even more thought they were very unfortunate to be drawn against Germany, Spain, and Costa Rica. In their opening game, Japan did well to limit Germany to just one goal, and with their fast-paced attack, it was the perfect scenario in which Japan could strike quickly through Doan and Asano to give Japan a shock 2-1 lead. It looked to be all for not though, as they lost 1-0 to Costa Rica.
At halftime against Spain, it looked as if that Costa Rica game had cost them. They were 1-0 down after a Álvaro Morata goal, but then just like against Germany, Japan turned on the style. Ritsu Doan quickly equalised for Japan after halftime, and then immediately afterwards Ao Tanaka gave Japan the lead! It was a masterclass in defending after that goal as Japan held on to not only reach the last sixteen but topped the group in the process.
Up The North! HFX midfielder, Aidan Daniels – FC13 Podcast
4 – Saudi Arabia beat Argentina
No one gave Saudi Arabia a chance heading into this game. Argentina went into this tournament unbeaten in their last thirty-six games and is considered one of the front-runners to win the tournament. As a team, Argentina was arguably the best they have ever been in the Lionel Messi era and would back that up by winning the tournament a few weeks later. Argentina took the lead through a Messi penalty and had a 1-0 lead over Saudi Arabia going into halftime, it was all going to plan.
But the Middle East outfit wouldn’t lie down, and Argentina found themselves on the end of two quick goals at the start of the second half, suddenly it was 2-1 Saudi Arabia. Argentina struggled to deal with Saudi Arabia’s high line which combined with their wayward finishing resulted in a shock 2-1 defeat and one of the biggest World Cup upsets of all time and sparking scenes of utter bedlam in Saudi Arabia, and just three days in the 2022 World Cup, gave the tournament an unfortunate result.
3 – Morocco reach the World Cup Semi Final
Ninety-two years after the first-ever World Cup, an African team was still to win a World Cup quarter-final. If that was going to change this year, many assumed it would be through Senegal, but instead it was the Atlas Lions of Morocco that smashed the glass ceiling.
Morocco made shockingly easy work of their group, taking seven points out of nine against Croatia (0-0), Belgium (2-0), and Canada (2-1) before going on to face close neighbors Spain. Morocco didn’t give the Spanish an inch, before going on to win the game on penalties setting up a last-eight showdown with Portugal. Just before halftime, Youssef En-Nesyri gave Morocco the lead, sparking deafening celebrations amongst the Moroccan supporters in the stadium and proving to be the difference on the day. Morocco played admirably in the semi final but ultimately ran out of steam against France. Regardless it was a historic run, one that no one will ever forget.
2 – Kylian Mbappé drags France back into the World Cup Final
It looked all over. Argentina had a two-goal lead over France and it looked as if the French had no way back into the game. Even as the clock struck seventy minutes, France was yet to even register a shot on goal. Everyone was ready to crown Argentina as champions, everyone except Kylian Mbappé.
Firstly with ten minutes left, Mbappés ball over the top to Randal Kolo Muani lead to a penalty to France, which Mbappé slotted away with precision to within one. Then almost immediately from the kick-off, France won the ball back, worked it to Mbappé in the Argentine box, and from a tight angle, Mbappé volleyed the ball past Martinez in the Argentine net to drag France back into the final! From dead and buried to level in sixty seconds. Mbappé was then required to bail France out again in extra time. Trailing 3-2, France won another penalty with just four minutes left and from the spot, Mbappé became the first man in fifty-six years to score a World Cup final hattrick and with four World Cup final goals already, he is the top World Cup final scorer history. France might not have won, but Mbappé’s performance was the stuff of legend.
1 – Argentina win the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final
There was always a sense of destiny and urgency from this side. Argentina never looked back after a shock defeat to Saudi Arabia and the best Argentine team in the Lionel Messi era proved they deserved that title by reaching the World Cup final. Lionel Scaloni’s men rose to the occasion, racing into a 2-0 lead from Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria, their name was all but written on the trophy. But France struck back with two quick goals, enough to mentally cripple almost any side in the world, but not this team!
Argentina dusted themselves off for extra time and again took the lead after Messi bundled home a loose ball in the box in a moment that appeared to be the fairy tail ending for his World Cup career. But in yet another twist, France equalised again to force a penalty shootout. Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, and Leandro Paredes all converted from the spot, which combined with misses from Frances Kingsley Coman and Aurélien Tchouaméni meant that La Albiceleste were one kick away from destiny. Gonzalo Montiel, who gave the penalty away in extra stepped up to the spot, and won the World Cup for Argentina! Argentina was a team that grew into the tournament getting better throughout, relying on their talisman Lionel Messi but also giving him the support and system allowing him and the team around him to flourish. It was a deserved World Cup final win, perhaps the greatest World Cup final of all time. Congratulations to Argentina, 2022 FIFA World Cup champions.
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