The World Cup has produced some of the finest goals the history of football. Dennis Bergkamp’s takedown and finish against Argentina in 1998, Diego Maradona’s second goal in the 1986 victory over England and Michael Owen’s virtuoso effort against the Argentinians in 1998 would all grace any football pitch. But there is a flip side. The World Cup has also given us some of the most controversial goals in football history. Sure, everyone remembers the “hand of God” incident, but what else was there?
5. Geoff Hurst – 1966 World Cup Final vs West Germany
England’s finest hour has always been somewhat tainted by their third goal, which edged them in front during the World Cup final in ’66. Wolfgang Weber’s 89th-minute equaliser sent the game into extra time. It was in the 101st minute that the controversy took place. Alan Ball put in a cross which Geoff Hurst swivelled and struck goalwards from close range. The ball hit the underside of the bar before bouncing down and being cleared. The Swiss referee consulted his linesman, a certain Tofiq Bahramov from Azerbaijan in the USSR. After a moment or two, the linesman indicated for the goal and England went on to win 4-2. It has been since proven not to have fully crossed the line but it doesn’t matter anymore – it is still England’s only World Cup success to date.
4. Carlos Tevez – 2010 World Cup Second Round vs Mexico
Argentina are often fancied to reach the last four of World Cup. But when Carlos Tevez headed Argentina 25 minutes into their second-round matchup against Mexico, despite being yards offside, you could forgive the El Tri fans for feeling slightly aggrieved. An offside goal may not be all that controversial, but it was made worse by the fact that it was replayed on the big screen inside the stadium for all to see, adding insult to injury. The decision led to fights breaking out on the subs bench and the referee being surrounded by the entire Mexican team. That’s a pretty big oops.
3. Frank Lampard – 2010 World Cup Second Round vs Germany
Okay, so this wasn’t actually a goal – but technically it was. When Frank Lampard struck a long distance beauty, it appeared to everyone in the stadium that England had pulled off a great comeback. Germany are nearly always among the favourites in the World Cup betting stakes, so this goal was that little bit more special. It would have made the scoreline 2-2, but even though the ball was a good yard over the line it wasn’t given. England would crash out, losing 4-1 but the clamour for goal-line technology got a lot louder after this one.
2. William Gallas – 2009 World Cup qualification Second Round Playoff vs Republic of Ireland
The goal, dubbed “the hand of frog” by Irish fans in parody to Maradona’s famous deception in ‘86, sent France to the World Cup in South Africa
Although this goal was not technically scored in the World Cup tournament, it was what prevented the Republic of Ireland reaching the finals in massively controversial circumstances. With the game at 1-1 going into extra-time, the French had a free kick that appeared to be going out of play. Thierry Henry practically caught the ball before squaring it for Gallas to head home. Every Irish player protested but the goal stood and days of recrimination followed with many calling for the game to be replayed. It wasn’t though. The goal, dubbed “the hand of frog” by Irish fans in parody to Maradona’s famous deception in ‘86, sent France to the World Cup in South Africa where, to rub salt into the wound, they imploded and became a laughing stock.
1. Diego Maradona – 1986 World Cup Semi-final vs England
There will never be a more controversial goal in World Cup history than the first goal Maradona scored in the ’86 semi-final versus England. After a mazy run, the ball was sliced into the air by an England defender and Maradona literally punched it over the advancing Peter Shilton to give Argentina the lead. It was the art of deception refined by the man who minutes later would score the goal voted the greatest of all time. In one game, the world had seen the two goals that would define Maradona forever.