The 2014 World Cup has been an absolute whirlwind of emotions, goals, and nail/shoulder-biting incidents, but now that the final two teams (Germany and Argentina) are set to play each other in the World Cup Finals we’ve got some time to take a look back at the most intense moments from the competition so far.
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#5. Netherlands Penalties Against Costa Rica (Quarter Finals)
No one would have predicted that little old CONCACAF Costa Rica would be heading into penalty kicks against a team like the Netherlands in the World Cup Quarterfinals. Similarly, no one in their right mind would have predicted that after 120 minutes of a clean sheet the Netherlands coach would swap in substitute goal keeper Tim Krul to hold down the fort.
But that’s exactly what happened. After a nerve-wracking set of penalty kicks though, the Oranje were the ones left standing.
#4. Algeria Scores Last-Minute Goal Against Russia (Group Stage)
Algeria was intent on making a statement in the 2014 World Cup after a they were narrowly knocked out of the group stage by Donovan’s last-minute goal in 2010. So when they had the opportunity to provide a late goal of their own against Russia via corner kick, most World Cup fans were holding their breath.
One person who wasn’t wasting time, though, was an Algerian fan busy shining a green laser pointer into the eyes of Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev. Whether or not the goalie was significantly distracted (he was), Igor conceded the losing ball and Algeria went onto win the match and eventually made it into the Round of 16.
#3. Ochoa’s Saves Against Brazil (Group Stage)
Guillermo Ochoa was the poster boy for Mexican soccer a few years ago (literally–he was on the cover of the Mexican version of FIFA 2008 and 2009) but had been noticeably absent from headlines until El Tri’s marquee group stage matchup against Brazil.
The fact that Ochoa conceded zero goals against the host nation is impressive in its own right, but it was the quality of the saves that kept Mexican fans on the edge of their seats. Many of the shots he stopped from Neymar and Co. required full-out extensions and then immediate recovery.
While Ochoa’s hands were busy keeping Mexico’s dreams alive, the fingers of an entire nation were in their mouths biting their nails to the nubs. It was a brilliant performance from a keeper who chose to have the match of his lifetime on the biggest stage in the world.
#2. US’s Final Gasps Against Belgium (Round of 16)
The US looked completely outmatched against Belgium during their Round of 16 game with minimal possession, so most fans weren’t all that surprised when Belgium scored a late goal in extra time. And then another. When US coach Jurgen Klinsmann subbed in Julian Green–the youngest player on the roster who hadn’t played a single minute in competition–everyone just assumed he was trying to get the young blood some World Cup experience.
No one in the world, especially not American fans, expected Julian to score a beautiful volley to bring the USA back into the game. But that’s exactly what he did and all of a sudden the United States had a chance. And then another chance. And another chance. It seemed like the United States had at least four great opportunities to score, all within the period of thirteen minutes.
But it was not to be the US’s day and when the final whistle blew, all Julian’s goal accomplished was teasing US fans for just a little longer.
#1. Brazil’s Penalty Kick Win Against Chile (Round of 16)
Brazil had one of the “easier” Round of 16 draws with Chile, so most fans (and probably some players too) just assumed that Brazil would cruise through the game with a victory. That was not the case. After 90 minutes and 30 minutes of extra time, the score was tied up at 1-1 and suddenly Brazil was faced with penalty kicks–the near equivalent of a crap shoot–to decide who would advance to the next round.
And what a series of penalty kicks they were. Tied up with 2 goals apiece, the golden boy of Brazilian soccer aka Neymar stepped up and clinically finished with a somewhat flashy goal. It was up to Chilean defender Gonzalez Jara to level the score but he was unable to do so. Brazil and most of the world breathed a collective sigh of relief.
QUESTION: Knowing what Brazil knows now, do you think they would have rather lost this game in PKs or would they rather have gotten embarrassed against Germany 7-1?