·18 December 2022
·18 December 2022
For all of the talk of a congested schedule and the risk of burnout, there was still quite an impressive amount of quality on show at this World Cup.
We saw some stunning goals, petty sportsmanship and legendary stories come to an end. What more do you want?
Here are 90min's picks for the ten best matches this tournament, ranked.
If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!
Roy Keane was not happy / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages
One major lesson from this World Cup is to never trust the teams who peak in the last 16.
Brazil fired quite the warning shot to their rivals when they tore apart South Korea, heading into the half-time break 4-0 up.
Goals from Vinicius Junior, Neymar, Richarlison, and Lucas Paqueta had the Selecao dancing (literally). Paik Seung-ho scored South Korea's consolation late on.
Cho's towering headers gave South Korea hope / Alex Grimm/GettyImages
The comeback that nearly was, the hard-fought win that didn't matter.South Korea were all at sea when Ghana raced into a two-goal lead in their Group H encounter, but a second-half brace from Cho Gue-sung pegged them level.Mohammed Kudus went down the other end and notched the Black Stars back in front, though Ghana would be eliminated after their next match and South Korea ended up advancing in their place.
Suarez's tears were sweet to onlooking Ghanaians / Soccrates Images/GettyImages
The sequel to Ghana and Uruguay's iconic 2010 showdown did not disappoint.
The former only needed a draw to secure their route to the next round, while the latter needed a win to even stand a chance.
Uruguay went two up in the first half, with the Black Stars' eternal enemy Luis Suarez pulling the strings.
La Celeste looked to be cruising to the last 16 amid an increasingly feisty affair, but news filtered through in the final 10 minutes that South Korea had beaten Portugal, meaning Uruguay needed another goal. They battered down the Ghanaian door but couldn't find a way through, with the African side at least taking joy in knocking out their old rivals.
Remember what we said earlier about teams peaking in the last 16? Portugal were the masters of this.
After finally deciding to drop Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Santos' men put Switzerland to the sword in style.
Goncalo Ramos - Ronaldo's replacement - scored an incredible hat-trick as Portugal ran out staggering 6-1 winners, announcing their free-flowing selves as contenders.
Youssef En-Nesyri was the hero / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages
And then it all came crashing down.
Portugal's next task was to overcome tournament sweethearts Morocco, but the Selecao fell to the Atlas Lions,
Youssef En-Nesyri rose high above Diogo Costa and Ruben Dias to head home the game's only goal and Morocco rode out a nervy second half to become the first African side in history to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Chavez's outrageous free-kick gave Mexico hope / Michael Steele/GettyImages
There were a lot of games this tournament with late drama.
Saudi Arabia and Mexico both had a chance of reaching the last 16 heading into their final Group C encounter, but the latter were in the driving seat after finding themselves 2-0 up (in part thanks to Luis Chavez's screamer).
With the clock ticking down, Mexico still needed another goal as Poland were ahead of them by virtue of fair play. With every man forward, Saudi Arabia hit Mexico on the counter and grabbed the last strike of the evening, effectively eliminating the pair of them.
Legends / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/GettyImages
With Germany 1-0 up and threatening to score several more with 20 minutes remaining, no one gave Japan a fighting chance.
But this is how the legend of manager Hajime Moriyasu grew. He made several substitutions to try and change the game - all to superb effect.
Ritsu Doan equalised with a quarter of an hour remaining, before former Arsenal forward Takuma Asana scored the winner for the Blue Samuari.
Scenes / Marc Atkins/GettyImages
It was hard to foresee anything other than an early Argentina elimination when they suffered one of the worst World Cup defeats of all time.
Lionel Messi's early penalty threatened to open the floodgates, with La Albiceleste scoring three goals which were ruled out for offside thanks to Saudi Arabia's aggressive offside trap.
Herve Renard delivered one hell of a half-time speech to his players, and shortly after the interval, Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari scored the immortal goals to turn the game around.
Mohammed Al Owais made several huge saves between the sticks to ensure Saudi Arabia clung on for the win.
Stealing the show / Stu Forster/GettyImages
Who had Cameroon vs Serbia down for one of the best games at a World Cup, eh?
With Serbia looking like potential dark horses, this match was a real test of those credentials. They scored twice in first-half stoppage time to overturn a one goal deficit, before a sweeping team move ended with Aleksandar Mitrovic adding a third just after the break.
But Cameroon weren't to be defeated. Vincent Aboubakar - self-proclaimed rival of Mohamed Salah for some reason - came off the bench and scored with a delectable dink that was ruled onside thanks to VAR, before he turned provider for Eric Maxim Chuopo-Moting minutes later to split the points.
Scenes we like to see / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages
The Battle of Lusail will hopefully have its own Wikipedia page in the near future.
This enthralling quarter-final featured: 17 yellow cards, one red after the final whistle, four goals and three missed penalties in the shootout.
We also had some Messi magic to tee up Nahuel Molina for the opener, Leandro Paredes trying to kill the Netherlands bench, and a leaping header from Wout Weghorst before he scored a 100th minute leveller.
Emi Martinez came up big on spot kicks (again) to help Argentina win, showing zero remorse for their opponents following a week of back-and-forth taunts.
What a final / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages
On any list of 'greatest games...' this is probably number one.
3-3. A penalty shootout. Lionel Messi brace. Kylian Mbappe hat-trick. A dramatic comeback.
It doesn't get any better than this game. There is no game of football you'll ever see that will be better than this game. That's a fact.
View publisher imprint