By Jack Beresford
The World Cup has played host to a slew of great goals down the years.
Instantly memorable are corkers like Dennis Bergkamp’s three-touch masterpiece against Argentina in 1998, Roberto Baggio’s solo waltz against Czechoslovakia at Italia ’90 or Diego Maradona’s ‘Goal of the Century’ against England in 1986.
But what about the others? The singularly sublime strikes that counted for zip? Mere consolation? Lost to the fickle winds of time?
The following 10 goals all have two things in common: they were and are all bloody brilliant *and* they all counted for absolutely bugger all.
David Villa (Spain) vs Australia, 2014
Spain had already been dumped out of the World Cup following defeats by Holland and Chile in 2014, so decided to treat their final dead rubber group game with Australia as something of a piss-about.
The result was this cheeky impudent flick from David Villa in what would prove to be his final game for La Roja.
9. Bernardo Redin (Colombia) vs Cameroon – 1990
Colombia were already 2-0 down to Cameron here, following a blunder of Loris Karius-proportions from their lunatic goalkeeper, Rene Higuita.
With time running out in extra time, Bernardo Redin and Carlos Valderrama combined expertly to reduce the deficit.
It was all too little, too late though.
8. Bakary Kone (Ivory Coast) vs Holland – 2006
Big things were expected of Ivory Coast ahead of the 2006 World Cup. Then they were drawn in a group alongside both Argentina and Holland.
Though the Elephants put up a valiant fight against both teams, they couldn’t prevent back-to-back defeats and immediate elimination.
This Kone goal did at least get them on level terms with Holland… right up until the Dutch went and scored again, of course.
7. Park Chang-Sun (South Korea) vs Argentina – 1986
South Korea ended the 1986 World Cup with one point and no wins from three group games.
They did bag four goals from games against Italy, Bulgaria and Argentina though (no mean feat), including this fine strike against La Albiceleste.
Diego Maradona’s team were already 3-0 up by then, but good gracious it was a great goal.
6. Clint Dempsey (USA) vs Ghana – 2006
The running battle that saw USA play Ghana at three consecutive World Cups started in 2006 with this entertaining group stage decider.
The Black Stars took an early lead in the match but were pegged by a USA side that needed to win to survive.
Clint Dempsey, who would later join Fulham, got the goal with a lovely finish. Unfortunately, about a minute or so later, Ghana scored again from the penalty spot and Dempsey was heading home.
5. Fabio Quagliarella (Italy) vs Slovakia – 2010
Arguably the most delicate consolation goal to grace a World Cup, reigning champions Italy were 3-1 down to Slovakia in injury time and on their way out of the tournament when Quagliarella struck.
A delicate yet precise finish, the goal lent the scoreline a hint of respectability, but didn’t spare the blushes of an Azzurri team that picked up two points and zero wins from three games.
4. Raul (Spain) vs Nigeria – 1998
Back in the 1990s, Spain were known as a squad of good/bordering on great players who just couldn’t seem to get their collective talents to gel on the pitch.
Tipped to top their group, La Roja started badly with a 3-2 defeat to Nigeria in a game they had twice led. This lovely combination of a Fernando Hierro long ball and precise Raul finish made it 2-1 to Spain.
Alas, they would ultimately fail to get out of the group, with Paraguay pipping them to second place.
3. Diego Forlan (Uruguay) vs Senegal – 2002
Uruguay went into their final group game with Senegal knowing only a win would do. By half-time they were 3-0 down and heading out.
A goal from Richard Morales just after the restart gave them a glimmer of hope before Diego Forlan, who had been misfiring for Manchester United, unleashed this absolute stonker with 21 minutes to go.
Alvaro Recoba levelled things up from the spot on 88 minutes but, despite some late chances, Uruguay couldn’t find a winner.
2. Philippe Albert (Belgium) vs Germany – 1994
The moustachioed maestro was supposed to be a defender but, as Newcastle fans will attest, could regularly be found marauding forward in search of goals and glory.
Belgium were 3-1 down to Germany when he grabbed this fine injury time strike.
It could have counted for something too, had the referee not early waved away a blatant penalty for the Red Devils – something the defender seems to be reminding the match official about after scoring.
1. Asamoah Gyan (Ghana) vs Portugal – 2014
Ghana endured a miserable World Cup in Brazil, with an argument over player bonuses overshadowing events before a single ball had been kicked.
A defeat to Team USA, coupled with a draw against Germany, left the Black Stars needing a win over Portugal to progress.
They didn’t get it, but this delightful header from Asamoah Gyan did at least get them level against Cristiano Ronaldo and co.
Portugal went on to win but subsequently lost out to the US on goal difference – so at least that was a modicum of consolation.