These legendary craftsmen pulled off some outrageous goals in the second round of the group stage games.
Whilst few teams like Mexico, Russia and CroatiaWorld Cup run, the rest are fighting hard to ensure their dream doesn’t remain a dream for another four years.
All the teams have now completed their second-round games and the fate of a few sides has already been decided. A total of 9 teams are already out of the competition and we are inching ever so close to the knockout stages.
There’s no way one can place their money on a side as the tournament thus far has been very unpredictable. Every game has provided an anecdote to remember and each one of these anecdotes is a testament to the saying “Football is a game of tiny margins, massive heartbreaks and remarkable joy”.
The Germans almost got knocked out in the group stages for the first time since 1958 and Croatia humiliated a star-studded Argentine unit. England and Belgium, the dark horses of the tournament, are ripping apart defenses with their amazing front-lines.
In simple words, every minute in the second round of games has been nerve-wracking. Despite all the pressure surrounding these players, we’ve seen some outstanding goals and we just don’t need a reason to reminisce and relive few of these amazing strikes from the second round.
#5 Jesse Lingard (England) vs Panama
Jesse Lingard well and truly announced his arrival on the big stage in the 2017-18 season playing for Manchester United. He scored some vital goals for the Red Devils and earned a place in the English side for the World Cup finals.
After a forgettable first game, Lingard was back to his best against Panama. The 25-year-old scored a fantastic strike from just outside the box to give England their 3rd goal of the game.
England were running riot in the first half as John Stones and Harry Kane earned them a 2-0 lead in double-quick time. Panama’s defense had fallen apart and there was never an answer from them to the Three Lions’ attacking prowess.
Drifting from the left flank, Lingard played a small one-two before curling the ball into the net towards the goalkeeper’s left. There wasn’t much pace on that shot, but the curl was just stupendous.
It’s one of those goals wingers love scoring and the young English contingent must be flying high in terms of confidence levels.
#4 Son Heung-min (South Korea) vs Mexico
South Korea entered the tournament with high expectations and unfortunately for them, the road is virtually closed for them to move ahead. Although there’s a mathematical possibility, it’d be very hard for them to go past the Germans in their final group game.
Their talismanic winger Son Heung-min worked hard relentlessly in the game against Mexico, but he had to wait for a long time to earn his reward. That reward too came very late in the game as his side eventually lost 2-1 to Mexico.
Nevertheless, that one goal from Son is certainly a contender for the goal of the tournament. The Mexican defense gave nothing away to the Asian side and they really needed something out of the box to open their account.
Son dribbled his way past a couple of defenders outside the box and set himself up in a decent position for a left-footed shot. Although the distance was a bit too far, the 25-year-old generated great power on his strike to beat Ochoa on his right-hand side.
#3 Granit Xhaka (Switzerland) vs Serbia
Switzerland couldn’t have asked for a better start than a 1-1 draw against one of the hot favorites of the tournament, Brazil. They continued their good run with a morale-boosting 2-1 win against Serbia, which helped them amass 4 points in 2 games.
After conceding a goal very early in the game, Switzerland had some catching up to do. It took something very special out of Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka to get their side back in the game.
Shaqiri tried to do an Arjen Robben (Cutting inside from the left flank and curling the ball into the top-left corner). His shot ricocheted off the defender and fell in a central position outside the box.
Granit Xhaka, who was sprinting from the halfway line, had the ball neatly set up and attempted a shot off his left foot in the motion. Goodness, gracious! That was one heck of a strike which curled away from the keeper’s left into the top right corner.
For all those who doubt Xhaka’s ability, this is a befitting answer. Xhedran Shaqiri scored a dramatic injury-time winner to seal all three points for his side, and Switzerland currently are the favorites in their group to progress alongside Brazil.
#2 Toni Kroos (Germany) vs Sweden
Just like it happened in the game against Mexico, Germany seemed a little vulnerable whilst defending swift counter-attacks. Sweden spilled a few presentable chances before a Toni Kroos mistake helped them take a 1-0 lead.
Marco Reus got the equalizer in the second half and the defending champions started dominating the game. But Jerome Boateng was sent off with 15 minutes remaining, which left die Mannschaft with 10 men at a wrong juncture.
Despite losing a center-back, Joachim Low didn’t compromise on his attacking options and that eventually paid off. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Germany won a free-kick just outside the box.
It was a now or never moment for the defending champions and Toni Kroos provided a moment of magic. He rolled the ball a yard ahead to his teammate Reus, who stopped the ball and stepped back, allowing Kroos to curl the ball around the keeper.
An hour before that, they were staring at an embarrassing group stage exit. But their “Never say die” attitude helped them pull off a very important win. If ever anyone asks me to describe that goal in one word, I’d say “World-class”.
#1 Luka Modric (Croatia) vs Argentina
Croatia’s golden generation romped their way to the Round of 16 and in the process, they registered one of the greatest wins in their history against two-time champions Argentina.
After a goalless first half, an unpardonable howler from Willy Caballero helped Croatia take the lead completely against the run of play. A win for them was enough to confirm their berth in the next round and the whole country was on the edge.
A 1-0 lead against a side which has Lionel Messi is always vulnerable and Croatia needed another goal to settle the deal. “Cometh the hour, cometh the champion” they say and skipper Luka Modric scored arguably his finest goal in International colors.
Modric found the ball a little distance outside the box in a central location. He shimmied to the right, tricked the defenders away and thwacked the ball into the bottom right with surgical precision.
To have generated such power from that distance with such accuracy speaks volumes of this legend’s caliber. Hailed as one of the greatest midfielders of all time, Modric certainly is living up to the expectations of his countrymen.