25 moments that made the World Cup 2018 the best ever

Kenzaburo Matsuoka/Global Look Press
It may be over, but we’re not quite ready to let go of our World Cup fever just yet. We look back on the moments that made us want to laugh, scream and take up football.

25. Russian newlyweds serenaded by Argentinian fans

Is your wedding band looking a little pricey? Just wait until the next World Cup, and tie the knot in the presence of Argentinian fans – they’ll happily provide the music for free!

24. Pretty much everything Putin did

Russian President Vladimir Putin was only at two games, but managed to steal the show at both. His smugness in the face of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman set the Internet on fire:

“Hey, sorry”

Then at the trophy presentation ceremony following the final, while the French and Croatian presidents got drenched, Putin not only had impressive cover but even had someone to hold it for him:

23. England winning a penalty shoot-out (at long bloody last)

In England’s quarterfinal tie against Colombia, the script looked written: They conceded a late goal, miss some good chances in extra time – surely what follows is a penalty shoot-out exit?

Not this time. England secured their first ever World Cup win on penalties thanks to some unlikely heroes – namely keeper Jordan Pickford, who made a fine save, and substitute Eric Dier, who slotted home the winning spot-kick. The tension was real.

22. Brazil fans bringing the noise outside their team’s hotel

Brazil’s fans were among the loudest and best represented in Russia this summer. Before their quarterfinal tie with Belgium, the fans who made it to Kazan spent the night giving their boys some extra encouragement outside the team hotel. Check this out for atmosphere:

21. Iceland’s Viking clap

Before Iceland’s opening game with Argentina, 30,000 fans (almost 10 percent of the country’s population) gathered outside Moscow’s Spartak Stadium for a spine-tingling rendition of their trademark Viking salute. No wonder their players came away from the game with a point.

20. Senegal’s alternative warm-up

Some teams warm up for matches with intense stretching regimes and games of one-touch. Others, well, they just dance. And the “Happiest Players Award” goes to…

It clearly rubbed off on fans, too:

19. Ronaldinho stealing Will Smith’s thunder at the closing ceremony

The fast-paced opera rendition of Russian folk song ‘kalinka’ at the closing ceremony was quite a spectacle, and it was made complete by the unexpected buck-toothed joy and bongo expertise of footballing legend Ronaldinho. 

Just look at that face, and tell us you didn’t feel a little happier on the strength of it.

18. Russian hot dog lovers unfazed by their team making history

Самый яркий момент в матче! 😂😂😂

Публикация от Митино, Москва (@pro_mitino)

Imagine this: You’re in the World Cup Round of 16, and your team has made it to extra time against the star-studded Spainish national team. What would you be thinking? Probably not food, I’m guessing.

For these three spectacularly dressed fans, however, quenching their peckishness was top priority. They became Russia’s meme of the tournament for their efforts:

17. Japan (almost) stunning Belgium in the Round of 16

Much-fancied Group G winners Belgium squared up against Japan in what looked set to be the least mouth-watering tie of the second round. Oh, how wrong we were – it ended up being one hell of a game, with the Japanese setting themselves up for a historic upset after scoring two beautiful goals early in the second half.

It wasn’t to be, however; Belgium piled their biggest beanpoles forward and clawed it back to 3-2. What a comeback it was, and a heartbreak for the valiant Japanese.

16. It’s raining pints; hallelujah, it’s raining pints

England, who went into the World Cup far from favorites, made it to their first semi-final since 1990, sending fans at home into delirium. “It” didn’t come home in the end, but before England were knocked out by Croatia, Kieran Trippier’s semi-final goal sent half of London’s beer supply skyward in Hyde Park:

15. Luka Modric being Luka Modric

2018 was the year that perennial “dark horses” Croatia finally came of age. Key to the World Cup runners-up’s success was captain fantastic, Luka Modric, who took home the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and gave us plenty to remember, including this beauty against Argentina:

14. Messi sent packing after stunning 4-3 defeat to France

Mbappe, penalty, surely! Di Maria – it’s a screamer! Pavaaaaaaaaaard!!!!

Holy god, what a game. Let’s be honest, we all needed a sit down after that mayhem.

13. Flying Mbappe

The 19-year-old sensation probably broke all sound and light barriers in France’s match against Argentina. At least, the cameraman had a pretty hard time tracking him:

12. Neymar’s theatrics

Many envisaged the Brazilian forward lifting the World Cup this summer, and while he made some strong appearances, his tournament will be best remembered for some very questionable diving antics. Some say he’s still rolling…

11. Belgium breaking Brazilian hearts

In spite of Neymar’s antics, Brazil was looking unbeatable before their quarterfinal tie against Belgium. The Red Devils then shocked them with a performance of kings - courtesy of a breathtaking save by Thibaut Courtois and a fine finish by Kevin de Bruyne to round off a magnificent team goal. Belgium’s “golden generation” progressed to the semi-finals and eventually finished third.

10. The foot of God

Russia over-performed throughout the entire tournament and got its reward in the form of an unforgettable second round scalp against Spain. The most iconic moment was keeper Igor Akinfeev’s penalty shoot-out save with his foot, forever immortalizing his boot in the pages of Russian history:

9. The finger of God

No, we’re not talking about Robbie Williams.

Unfortunately for Argentina, it was Maradona rather than Messi who caught the headlines from the stands after making some interesting gestures during the 2-1 victory over Nigeria:

Steady on, Diego.

8. Ronaldo (and Costa) setting the tone

We perhaps saw the tournament’s best match just three games in.

Portugal’s exhilarating 3-3 draw with Spain was football at its finest: Long-range goals, silky passing, and an old-fashioned bully of a striker battling it out with perhaps the greatest player ever for the plaudits. Ronaldo’s stunning free-kick was the ending the game deserved, while the match itself got the tournament started in style. One for the ages.  

7. Stadium housekeeping

If there were a “Class Act Award” for the fans, it’d surely go to the Senegalese and Japanese supporters, who took time to clean their stadium sections after games.

The best fans of this World Cup?🙌

Публикация от Sportsy (@sportsyuk)

Let’s hope this catches on among other fans!

6. Humble Kante

France’s N’Golo Kante is often touted as the “nicest man in football.” This was confirmed when, after winning the World Cup as one of the tournament’s best players, Kante had to be given the trophy by teammate Steven N’Zonzi because he didn’t want to impose on his teammates’ photo ops.

Then, despite standing at only 5’6”, Kante certainly didn’t try to block his teammates’ snap with French President Emmanuel Macron:

Now that’s adorable.

5. Taxi for Michy Batshuayi!

Celebration of the tournament, hands down. Watch in slow motion for maximum effect.

4. The saves, oh, the saves

While the goalscorers are getting most of the plaudits, let’s take a moment to look back on some of the legendary goalkeeping we’ve seen this summer.

First, there was Pickford:

Then Courtois:

Lloris and Akinfeev were also among the picks of the top saves. Keepers, stand up.

3. The throw-in that never was

It’s stoppage time in the biggest game of your life. You’re 1-0, and you get a throw-in that could lead to a goal. What do you do? Unfortunately for Iran, Milad Mohammadi decided to do this:

Although the timing was questionable, we’re definitely glad he went for it (and then backed out). Someone needs to make a 10-hour version of this ASAP.

2. Russia erupting after beating Spain

Russia, who went in to the World Cup as the tournament’s lowest-ranked team, ended up getting to the quarterfinal by way of a spectacular defeat of 2010 champions Spain on home turf. This unexpected victory led to one of the biggest parties the nation has ever seen:

1. The immortal French taking it home

Did it ever look in doubt?

France was clinical and effective from the tournament’s outset, and sealed off a perfect World Cup showing with a 4-2 victory over a strong Croatia side. It was the best World Cup final in a long time, and the players and fans partied like there was no tomorrow:

World Cup 2018 – we miss you already.

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