Ranking World Cup goals: June 16, 2018

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“The Beautiful Game” is more than just goals, but we at The Bat Flip really like goals. This semi-ambitious project will take every goal scored during the 2018 World Cup and rank them daily, with a master list compiled at the end of the tournament.

A few things to consider when figuring your proper dosages of salt grains:

  • Importance of the goal may supersede beauty.
  • Penalty kicks will be considered on a case-to-case basis.
  • Shootout goals will only be ranked if they were the match-winners, or if some absurd act made the goal possible.

You should also take a look at Robbie’s World Cup Precap.

Now let’s rank some goals from Saturday’s match play:

Saturday’s matches may be best remembered for the goals that weren’t scored as opposed to those that found the net. As we’ll do every day during the tournament, it’s a countdown toward No. 1, assembled as Sunday’s matches are getting started …

June 16, 2018

No. 8 – Mile Jedinak – Australia vs. France

This was what it was. A penalty-kick equalizer in the 62nd minute. A handball against France in the penalty area made it happen. Mile Jedinak made the French pay … Or at least sweat a bit.

No. 7 – Luka Mondric – Croatia vs. Nigeria

This helped Croatia seal three points against Nigeria as Luka Mondric skipped a try past Nigeria’s Francis Uzoho. Not much more beyond that and William Ekong’s hold Mario Mandzukic in the box that created the penalty.

No. 6 – Antoine Griezmann – France vs. Australia

Video Assisted Replay (VAR) gave this opportunity to France after a foul in the 18 eventually put Antoine Griezmann on the spot. It’s Griezmann, so the path to the penalty kick was cloudier than the result of the kick … A missile to the shooter’s top right. There was a bit of history behind it, being the first VAR-awarded penalty kick in World Cup history and all.

No. 5 – Sergio Aguero – Argentina vs. Iceland

After the initial entry, it was on Sergio Aguero to make this happen. He did. After his first touch, Aguero got just enough separation from Ragnar Sigurdsson to send a bullet past Hannes Halldorsson. At that point, it felt like Argentina was going to overwhelm Iceland … More on that in a bit.

No. 4 – Aziz Behich (own goal) – France vs. Australia

Paul Pogba’s strike was redirected by Aziz Behich and after connecting with the crossbar, barely crossed the line to give France a lead they would not surrender. There was some initial confusion with the French passively celebrating the goal until goal-line technology verified the goal.

No. 3 – Oghenekaro Etebo (own goal) – Croatia vs. Nigeria

Off a Croatian set piece, disaster struck for Nigeria as multiple headers led to the ball trickling off Oghenekaro Etebo and into the goal. Given how Croatia’s defenders handled Nigeria’s attack before and after the gaffe, Etebo’s own goal was pretty much a death sentence to Nigeria on this day.

No. 2 – Yussuf Yurary Poulsen – Denmark vs. Peru

A match as electric as this one was needed a goal like this. Christian Eriksen’s through-ball to Yussuf Yurary Poulsen allowed the Danes to finally break through as Poulsen’s one-dribble run led to a left-footed strike and an eventual big three points for Denmark.

No. 1 – Lionel Messi – Argentina vs. Iceland

Lionel Messi was able to win a penalty in the 63rd minute, putting him on the spot for a certain tiebreaker. A goal was all but a formality as Messi’s blessed left foot put the ball … RIGHT INTO THE PATH OF OF GOALKEEPER HANNES HALLDORSSON. Well … That wasn’t a goal at all, now was it?

No. 1 (Take 2) — Lionel Messi – Argentina vs. Iceland

Surely Lionel Messi would redeem himself in the 81st minute when a left-footed hammer from about 25 yards away wound up beating Hannes Halldorsson. Well, it did beat the Iceland goalkeeper, but it also sailed inches wide of the post, keeping the deadlock at 1 as Iceland continued to whether Argentina’s push. OK, there has to be a No. 1 somewhere.

No. 1 (Take 3) – Christian Cueva – Peru vs. Denmark

Christian Cueva was given a golden chance to put Peru on top just before halftime when VAR granted him a penalty. The stutter-step approach had done what it was supposed to do as Kasper Schmeichel guessed low, meaning all Cueva had to do was find a high spot in the net and certainly not over the  … OHMYGAWD, CHRISTIAN WHAT DID YOU DO?

No. 1 (Take 4) – Alfred Finnbogason – Iceland vs. Argentina

How the goal happened is insignificant in the grand scheme of things as first-time qualifier Iceland with a population of 334,252 in 2016, making it smaller than Cleveland (385,809 in 2016) forged a result with soccer royalty thanks to this goal. Iceland’s work against a very suspect Argentinian defense eventually led to Alfred Finnbogason putting a rebound across the line for the historic marker.

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