by Jake Brown
There are still many Americans who are having trouble swallowing what seemed like a loss Sunday night against Portugal. A goal with just under 30 seconds to play in the match in stoppage time tied the game at 2 for Portugal. It turned out to be one of the greatest World Cup finishes of all time.
It wasn’t the only thrilling finish so far in the 2014 World Cup, though. There have been plenty of gut-wrenching finishes in just the knockout round so far. Let’s take a look at the top five thrilling finishes through ten days in this World Cup in Brazil.
1. Portugal ties U.S. 2-2 in 94th minute – Sunday 6/22
The United States was less than 30 seconds away from escaping the “Group of Death.” The excitement was in the air and it seemed like a miraculous start to the World Cup was on the horizon for the U.S. Then everyone went silent. Cristiano Ronaldo, who had been almost non-existent all day, made one of the greatest crosses you will ever see. It went right to the head of Silvestre Varela, who headed it past U.S. goalie Tim Howard to tie the game at 2. The U.S. came that close to a comeback win. Instead, Thursday’s game against Germany just became a must-watch event. They’ll need a win or a draw to advance. If they lose, they will know their fate when they leave the field. Ghana and Portugal play at the same time. It could come down to goal differential.
2. Switzerland beats Ecuador 2-1 in 93rd minute – Sunday 6/15
Once again, just enough stoppage time saved the day. With just under 30 seconds to go in the match, Haris Seferovic put in a goal before the 93rd minute to seal the deal and give Switzerland a much-need three points in their first World Cup match against Ecuador. The difference between one point in a tie and three points in a win is so monumental, and it was pivotal in this match in Group E. The Swiss would go on to get spanked by France 5-2 in their second match, setting up a huge match against Honduras. Ecuador topped Honduras in their second match and have an important match with France next.
3. Argentina tops Iran in 91st minute – Saturday 6/21
Iran tying Argentina 0-0 had the potential to be the most stunning result in the World Cup, even as a tie. Then the best player on the planet came through when his team needed it most. In the 91st minute, Lionel Messi put in a shot that seemed like one that only he could make into the corner of the net. It was an absolute striker by their talisman that sent Argentina to the knockout round. Their next match against Nigeria only matters for first or second place in Group F. Iran needs to beat Bosnia and Herzegovina and have Argentina beat Nigeria to advance.
4. Belgium defeats Russia 1-0 in 88th minute – Sunday 6/22
Here’s the first one on the list with a thrilling goal that came before extra time. Russia was minutes away from escaping with a tie and a point against a strong Belgium team. Instead, 19-year-old striker Divock Origi scored a goal in the 88th minute to send Belgium to the knockout round. Talk about unlikely heroes. A game that had almost no excitement turned into a fantastic finish. Russia is now in need of a win against Algeria to keep their hopes alive. With big thanks to Origi, the Belgians can sit back and relax against Korea Republic.
5. U.S. gets revenge vs. Ghana 2-1 in 86th minute – Monday 6/16
John Brooks became a hero in America and nobody knew who he was coming into the World Cup. With the match tied at 1 in the 86th minute, Brooks put in a header off a corner kick to put the U.S. on top 2-1. It was a win the U.S. desperately needed. They scored in the first minute, but were outplayed for most of the game to the same Ghana team that knocked them out four years ago. This came just four minutes after Ghana had tied the game at 1 in the 82nd minute. It was a resilient win for the U.S. that sparked some confidence and life into a team that many didn’t think could survive the “Group of Death.”
Speaking of John Brooks, you may want to check out John Brooks: 5 Little Know Facts About American’s World Cup Hero and you may enjoy 6 of the Most Devastating Team USA Losses in History.