Diego Maradona of Argentina celebrates with the cup at the end of the World Cup soccer final in the Atzeca Stadium, in Mexico City, Mexico. (File)

'Sheer Delightful Football': What Were the Top Five Best World Cup Goals?

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The World Cup in Russia is only two months away and the best players on the planet are already preparing their shooting boots in the hopes of scoring at the tournament. Sputnik looks at some of the best goals ever to grace the World Cup.

World Cups are remembered, above all, for goals and over the years there have been some amazing goals.

Many of the players who scored them — like Daniel Amokachi for Nigeria against Greece in 1994 — have been largely forgotten but the clips will live on in posterity, thanks largely to YouTube or Vimeo.

So, with honorable mentions to Didier Six for France in 1982 and Uruguay's Alcides Ghiggia in 1950, here are the five best.

Diego Maradona v England in 1986

Diego Maradona is possibly better known in Britain for the "Hand of God" goal he scored against England in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

But four minutes after his cheating had opening the scoring for Argentina, the little wizard from Buenos Aires he produced one of the most astonishing goals ever seen at the world's premier tournament.

Maradona was 25 years old and at the peak of his career.

He picked up the goal inside his own half, performed a trick on the ball and danced away from England midfielder Peter Reid and began running towards Peter Shilton's goal with the ball superglued to his feet.

He then swerved his way past defender Terry Fenwick — who was on a yellow card and feared being sent off if he trip the Argentinian — and center back Terry Butcher and made his way into the penalty box.

England keeper Shilton came out but Maradona weaved his way past him and planted the ball beyond another lunging defender.

The English pulled a goal back late in the game but were beaten 2-1.

For Argentina — who had lost the Falklands war four years earlier — it was some sort of revenge and it was the beginning of the legend which became Maradona.  

Carlos Alberto v Italy in 1970

The 1970 World Cup is widely considered to have been one of the best tournaments because so many teams — England, West Germany, Italy, Brazil — were on top form.

But Brazil were easily the best team on display and in the final moments of the final against Italy they produced a team goal of breathtaking quality.

Brazil were already 3-1 up against Italy and there were only four minutes left on the clock.

The game was played in the heat and at altitude in the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City, and the Italian players were exhausted.

But the Brazilians had bundles of energy left and oodles of quality.

Tostão dispossessed an Italian player in his own half and passed it back to his left back. From then on the Brazilian players just kept passing it to each other, working it gradually up the field as the tired Italians looked on, or occasionally lunged in and missed.

The ball found Jairzinho on the left wing and he ghosted past two Italians and passed to Pele, who held it up just perfectly as the full back Carlos Alberto came charging up on his right hand side.

Carlos Alberto hit it like a rocket and it buried itself in Enrico Albertosi's goal.

"And up comes Carlos Alberto on the right!! Ohhh… That was sheer delightful football," said the BBC's legendary commentator Kenneth Wolstenhulme.

Michael Owen v Argentina in 1998

In 1998 Liverpool striker Michael Owen was just 19 years old.

He had burst into the Liverpool team the previous year and by the end of his career he would score a total of 203 goals for club and country.

But none were better than the one he produced against England's old rivals Argentina in France in 1998.

Owen became the youngest player ever to play at the World Cup when he came on as a substitute against Tunisia in the opening match.

He came off the bench to score against Romania and was in the starting line-up when England took on Argentina in the quarter final.

The match was level, 1-1, when David Beckham found Owen just inside the Argentina half in the 16th minute.

Owen swerved past two defenders and then beat goalkeeper Carlos Roa from just outside the penalty box.

The goal made him an overnight hero in England but Argentina equalized and, after Beckham was sent off in extra time, the Argentinians won on penalties.

Archie Gemmill v Holland in 1978

In 1978 the World Cup was hosted by Argentina, which was run by a military junta and was — unbeknown to most of the world — carrying out horrific human rights abuses against its own citizens.

Holland would make it to the final but their greatest player, Johan Cruyff, boycotted the tournament because of the human rights abuses.

England did not qualify for the World Cup but Scotland did and there were high hopes of a good performance from manager Ally McLeod's team, which included quality players like Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness.

But the "Tartan Army" of fans were despairing after shocking performances against Peru and Iran.

By the time they played Holland in their third match the Scots were virtually out of the tournament.

Step up Archie Gemmill.

The diminutive midfielder scored a penalty to put Scotland 2-1 up against Holland and then in the 68th minute he danced round three Dutch players before stroking the ball into the back of the net.

Scotland went wild and the goal even got a mention in Irving Welsh's novel Trainspotting, which was later turned into a film starring Ewan McGregor.

But Holland would make it as far as the final and Scotland would catch the next plane home.

Dennis Bergkamp v Argentina in 1998

Twenty years after they met in the final in Buenos Aires, the Dutch and the Argentinians were paired again in the quarter finals in Marseille.

Daniel Passarella, who had been Argentina's captain in 1978, was their manager and he had infused his side with a mixture of skill and aggression.

The latter boiled over in the 88th minute, with the score 1-1.

Ariel Ortega — who had just taken a dive over defender Jaap Stam's foot — was furious that he had not been awarded a penalty and was sent off for headbutting goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

Argentina were down to ten men and extra time beckoned.

But one man decided he did not want to play for another 30 minutes in the summer heat of the French Riviera.

The ball was lofted forward to Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp, who controlled it deftly and then lifted it over the keeper.

To fully enjoy the goal you have to watch the clip with the Dutch commentator going absolutely berserk.




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