With the incredible last gasp goal by Haris Seferovic with 23 seconds left in stoppage time that gave Switzerland a 2-1 win over Ecuador, the highlight of Day Four of the 2014 World Cup, let’s take a look back at some of those memorable match winners in football’s biggest stage.
Switzerland's Haris Seferovic celebrates after scoring a goal to defeat Ecuador in their 2014 World Cup Group E soccer match at the Brasilia national stadium. Photo by Paul Hanna, Reuters
Let’s kick off with the last World Cup in South Africa.
2010 World Cup Group C
June 23, 2010
USA vs. Algeria
After two group matches against England and Slovenia, the US was tied with England and Algeria with two points a piece after two draws. Slovenia had four points. The Americans should have been atop of the group but saw a goal controversially disallowed by referee Koman Coulibaly and they needed some late game magic to draw, 2-2.
In their final group stage match and needing a win to advance to the Round of 16, the Americans found themselves playing the Algerians. Both sides battled to a near stalemate at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.
Just as the match entered added time of four minutes, Landon Donovan raced forward on a quick counter. He found Jozy Altidore on the right who immediately fed a cutting Clint Dempsey in the middle of the box. The keeper Rais M’Bolhi blocked Dempsey but the ball went back out to where Donovan played trailer. The American smashed it home with 36 seconds gone by for a Golden Goal to send the US through.
2006 World Cup semifinals
July 4, 2006
Germany vs. Italy
The Germans and the Italians were locked in scoreless match and headed for a penalty shootout. With time running out, the Italians foraged ahead mindful of the hosts’ success in penalty shootouts.
Andrea Pirlo fired a shot that evaded defender Per Mertesacker and straight for the goal. However, German keeper Jens Lehman parried the shot away for an Italian corner. Alessandro Del Piero took the corner but his outswinger was meekly headed away into Pirlo who found an open Fabio Grosso inside the right side of the box. Grosso fired a left-footed shot to the far corner with Lehman helpless to do anything. Goal, Italy in the 199th minute.
In dire need of an equalizer, Germany committed more men to their last ditch attack. After David Odonker’s cross and Lukas Podolski’s shot were deflected, Italy went on a quick counter with Fabio Cannavaro finding midfielder Alberto Gilardino. Gilardino sent the ball left to Del Piero who fired to the right post to end the host nation’s dream of playing in the finals. The Italian 2-0 win at the WM Stadion in Dortmund silenced the crowd and ended the Jurgen Klinsmann era in Germany.
2006 World Cup Round of 16
June 26, 2006
Australia vs. Italy
The Azzurri and the Socceroos traded shots for the entire 90 minutes with the Italians playing with 10 men after Marco Materazzi was sent off in the 50th minute for taking out Australia’s Mark Bresciano with a nasty tackle. Yet the Italians lost none of their defensive verve.
In the final minute of added time (90+4), Fabio Grosso darted in from the left side of the Australian box. Centerback Lucas Neill met him and slid to kick the ball away. Grosso pitched forward in what appeared to be an apparent dive (there was no contact).
Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo pointed to the center for a penalty kick despite the howls of protests from the Australian side that was making a World Cup comeback after a 32-year absence. Francesco Totti took the spot kick. Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwerzer guessed to his right but the Italian’s shot was true.
1998 World Cup Quarterfinals
July 4, 1998
Netherlands vs. Argentina
The Netherlands pulled the same trick the Italians did in 2006 with consecutive match-winning goals.
The Dutch struck first with a Patrick Kluivert goal in the 12th minute off an assist by Dennis Bergkamp. Six minutes later, Argentine forward Claudio Lopez nutmegged Dutch goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar for the equalizer after beating the offside trap.
In the 89th minute, Bergkamp latched onto a 60-yard long ball from Frank de Boer, suckered defender Roberto Ayala one way before firing to the left side of the goal that was beyond keeper Carlos Roa’s reach. The Dutch advanced to the semifinals against Brazil.
1998 World Cup Round of 16
June 29, 1998
Netherlands vs. Yugoslavia
At the Stade de Tolouse in France, the Dutch got on the board in the 38th minute with another long ball from Frank de Boer to Dennis Bergkamp who had only defender Zoran Markovic to beat. Markovic fell as they battled for control of the 50-50 ball. The Yugoslavian tugged at the Dutchman’s shirt but Bergkamp did not go down. He fired a laser that Ivica Kralj could not keep out.
Yugoslav defender Slobodan Komljenovic headed in the equalizer after Dutch defenseman Michael Reizeger fouled Predrag Mijatovic just outside the right side of the box. The inswinger by the Balkan team’s captain Dragan Stojkovic was perfect as it found an unmarked Komljenovic for the equalizer.
The Yugoslavians could have gone ahead had not Mijatovic flub a penalty shot that fooled Van Der Sar but hit the crossbar to sail away out of harm’s way.
Later in the game, it was Holland’s turn to waste an opportunity after Phillip Cocu’s shot was disallowed because of a foul called on a teammate.
One minute and a half into the extra three minutes of time, Edgar Davids was straddling outside the Yugoslavian box when the ball found its way to him. Unmarked and with all day to shoot, the Dutch midfielder blasted home a scorcher to send the Netherlands on to the next round and the last united Yugoslavian team out of the tournament.
1990 World Cup Round of 16
June 26, 1990
England vs. Belgium
With less than two minutes in extra periods and the match scoreless at the Stadio Dall’Ara, Bologna, Italy, England midfielder Paul Gascoigne darted ahead but was tripped up by Belgian defender Eric Gerets.
Gascoigne chipped in the free kick that darted to England substitute David Platt who entered the match in extra time. The Aston Villa midfielder, who got his first taste of international duty eight months earlier by England manager Bobby Robson, found the ball dropping towards him. Platt turned and in one motion, fired a brilliant volley that caught Belgian goalkeeper Michel Preud’homme by surprise.
England went through and Platt continued his memorable run with another goal – a memorable one – as he fired the first goal in a 3-2 win over Cameroon.