Thu 12 Jul 2018, 09:21
The World Cup has delivered passion, colour and drama. We review some of the standout moments from a tournament that has exceeded expectations.
The opening match delivers
The hosts were the lowest-ranked side heading into the World Cup and there were doubts about Russia’s ability to host a tournament of this scale. Those concerns were put to rest immediately, as Denis Cheryshev scored twice in a 5-0 rout of Saudi Arabia to kick off the carnival in memorable fashion
Senegal dance the dance
Senegal got the World Cup buzzing with a 2-1 win over a fancied Polish outfit to throw Group H into disarray. The Lions of Teranga played an exciting brand of football to beat Poland, and this was matched by their choreographed dance celebration that remains the best celebration seen at the tournament.
Panama find joy, even in defeat
Panama celebrated Felipe Baloy’s goal in the 78th minute of the match against England by piling atop each other as if they had won the World Cup. In the professional era, this was a lovely reminder of the simple joy of playing and enjoying football – even when are you are losing 6-1.
Behrami does to Neymar what we all want to do to Neymar
Valon Behrami standing over Neymar & laughing at him for rolling around like a dying duck, while getting booked, is my favorite picture of the WC so far. pic.twitter.com/u8fTELoAB3— Saurabh (@TheUnited_Way) July 7, 2018
A defining image of this World Cup: Neymar, the great Brazilian footballer but terrible actor writhing in faux agony on the turf, with Switzerland’s Valon Behrami hovering over him, huge grin on face, happily receiving a booking from the referee for fouling the striker.
Batshuayi faces up
Michy Batshuayi isn’t Belgium’s preferred striker but he got a run in the last group-stage match against England. Adnan Januzaj’s fine strike settled the match in Belgium’s favour, but it was Batshuayi’s blunder that grabbed headlines. After Januzaj scored, Batshuayi tried to empathically thump the ball into the net but miskicked the ball that hit the post, with the rebound coming back off the woodwork to hit him in the face.
Messi reveals his secret
An Argentinian journalist gave Lionel Messi a ribbon after Argentina’s draw to Iceland, which he said was from his mother, who wanted Messi to wear it as a lucky charm. Argentina then lost to Croatia and had to beat Nigeria to advance to the knockout phase. Messi starred in a 2-1 win over Nigeria, and stunned the same journalist after the match by revealing that he had worn the red ribbon inside his left sock.
Watch the World Cup final on Sunday to see which other moments should be added to this list by streaming on DStv Now on your mobile or your laptop while you're on the go. And if you missed the latest action, catch up with an eight-minute highlights package.
Lucky 13 for Croatia, but no luck for new-look England
Croatia's extra-time victory in the semi-final over England was both dramatic and one for the history boffins. Just twenty years after making their tournament debut, the Croats become the 13th nation in World Cup history to reach the final. For England, it seems like a familiar tale of woe but in truth Gareth Southgate has changed the team's culture for the better and won new fans for a side previously known for its arrogance and failure to deliver.
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