Ranked! The 10 best goals of the World Cup (so far)

Benjamin Pavard

We're not even at the quarter-finals yet and already World Cup 2018 has delivered a fabulous range of goals – ranked from 10-1 here

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10. Jesse Lingard (England vs Panama)

England were home and hosed in the group after just two games, and their victories over Tunisia and Panama were largely based on creative set-piece thinking and efficient execution. One of the exceptions, of course, was Lingard’s fabulous effort against Panama. Yes, yes, it was Panama - but it still counts.

It was a seductive piece of football. Within the context of recent performances, it was also staggeringly un-English. The combination with Raheem Sterling which opened the shooting angle was slick and fluid, free of any sort of inhibition, and Lingard’s artful finish was loaded with the sort of technical excellence which has been a rare sight within recent generations.

9. Philippe Coutinho (Brazil vs Switzerland)

It was the standard Coutinho sequence: receive the ball in the pocket of space in front of the box, step infield and onto his right foot, then bend the ball across the goalkeeper and into the top corner.

It’s not unusual to see him do that, but this was still a special goal.

8. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal vs Spain)

The hat-trick goal, of course. The free-kick which everyone in the stadium and even those watching on television just knew was heading nowhere other than the back of the net.

It was all about theatre. In Ronaldo’s private collection of free-kicks, this probably wouldn’t even make the top five. Nevertheless, the timing gives it a worthy place on this list. The game itself was a classic, back-and-forth between two flawed sides that were heading for early elimination, but it was one of those nights which showed Ronaldo for the force that he still is. Even at 33, he can still open the throttle and push the pedal to the floor; this free-kick, with its perfect arc, was the exclamation point on a thrillingly powerful performance.

7. Toni Kroos (Germany vs Sweden)

Yes, Germany were ultimately doomed, but consider the circumstances here: it’s the last kick of the game and everything about this free-kick routine needs to be perfect - the nudge, the set by Marco Reus, and then the finish (which had to be lethally precise). Up stepped Kroos, into that tiny corner of the net it went.

It was quite beautiful and there’s a reason why the slow-motion replay is still on heavy rotation across social media.

More than anything else though, this was the hallmark of a world-class player. The Americans have a word - clutch - which describes it. It’s the art of coming up big for your team at a critical moment and, although it ultimately didn’t save Germany from elimination, that’s exactly what Kroos delivered.

6. Luka Modric (Croatia vs Argentina)

Modric has this in his locker. Most will remember a strikingly similar goal he scored against Manchester United in the Champions League a few years ago.

The strike is very pure. Willy Caballero may have suffered a catastrophic tournament, but he had no hope against the pace and power that Modric was able to generate. Still, it was the way he managed to manufacture space which really caught the eye. Nicolas Otamendi was shimmied one way and then the other, before Modric released his shot with almost no backlift. From the moment he cuts back to his right side, there's nothing any Argentine player can do to stop this.

Pedants will say that it’s the kind of goal he should score more often. To be contrary, though, it's the rarity of these moments which makes them more special. Modric is so slight and his game is so dependent on finesse that he doesn’t seem capable of such violence. When he produces it, it's spectacular.<--pagebreak--><--pagebreak-->