“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.
Now let’s rank some goals from Monday’s match play:
Seven balls found the net on Monday with two players posting two goals apiece. Without the second goal from one particular scorer, we missed the possibility of Peak England in the Three Lions’ first outing of the tournament. As we’ll do every day during the tournament, it’s a countdown to No. 1 …:
June 18, 2018
No. 6 (tie) – Andreas Granqvist – Sweden vs. South Korea
Yawn. It was a penalty kick that eventually landed three points for Sweden, but it was still a penalty in the 65th minute of a match that was controlled by Sweden.
No. 6 (tie) – Ferjani Sassi – Tunisia vs. England
Yawn. Another penalty kick. This one at least made England sweat a bit as the Tunisians battled with England throughout the second half of this Group G contest.
No. 5 – Dries Mertens – Belgium vs. Panama
After the Belgians played most of the first half with the strategy of asking politely for a Panamanian mistake, this clearing volley by Panama found its way to Dries Mertens in the 18, where this arcing strike gave the No. 3-ranked side in the world the first of three second-half goals to eventually bury Panama.
No. 4 – Romelu Lukaku (1) – Belgium vs. Panama
When you’re fortunate enough to have a forward with Romelu Lukaku’s gifts, you use those gifts to your advantage. This goal – the first “nice minute” goal of the tournament – happened thanks to a skillful cross from Keven De Bruyne. Once Lukaku was in a position to receive, the goal was inevitable.
No. 3 – Harry Kane (1) – England vs. Tunisia
Harry Kane has finally scored for England in a major tournament. The corner kick initially was struck by John Stones’ header. While that was capably punched away by Tunisia’s Mouez Hassen, Kane was waiting on the doorstep to flick the rebound into the yawning net. You can almost see a slight amount of the weight that Kane carries on his back slide off when that ball crossed the line.
No. 2 – Romelu Lukaku (2) — Belgium vs. Panama
The set-up was prettier than the actual goal, and all the set-up showed was Belgium’s counterattack sprinting a defeated Panama into submission. The Belgians sealed three points as soon as Romelu Lukaku took a feed from Eden Hazard’s romp through the Panamanian defense. Lukaku’s goal, while efficient, wasn’t as pretty as the run leading to it.
No. 1 – Harry Kane (2) – England vs. Tunisia
Had this stoppage-time whiplash header happened in a knockout-stage match, Harry Kane would have a goal named after him that English schoolchildren would try to reenact for decades to come. As it stood, it stole a result from a spunky Tunisian side while helping England avoid an embarrassing draw.
Welcome to your daily 2018 FIFA World Cup update, or World Cupdate, where we recap the past day’s proceedings from Russia while previewing what is still to come. These features will run every morning throughout the duration of the tournament and feature highlights, major news, and much more from Russia.
Here’s What Happened: Monday, June 18th
We are rapidly approaching the end of the first round of group play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Sweden and South Korea wrapped up action in Group F while the much awaited debuts of Belgium and England brought Group G to center stage.
Catch up on all the action from a drama filled Monday in Russia.
Sweden 1-0 Korea Republic
Sweden kept pace with Mexico in Group F thanks to a 1-0 victory over South Korea. The lead came courtesy of a penalty kick awarded through the new VAR replay system making its debut at an international tournament. Andreas Granqvist converted from the spot in the 65th minute to give Sweden the lead and their first World Cup goal since 2006.
Andreas Granqvist (65′, pen)
Sweden puts themselves in good position with an opening win over South Korea.
For 45 minutes, it appeared Panama had plans to shock the world in their first ever World Cup match. Though Belgium carried the better of the play, Panama kept the game scoreless at halftime. The second half told a different story as Belgium’s talent rose to the occasion and connected for three goals, two from striker Romelu Lukaku. In the end it was really not match and Belgium sailed away for an easy 3-0 victory and a spot atop Group G.
Dries Mertens (47′)
Romelu Lukaku (69′, 75′)
Romelu Lukaku carried Belgium to a 3-0 win over Panama.
Easy is not a word often used to describe anything England does at a World Cup and that was never more true than in their opening match against Tunisia. England raced out to an early lead off a goal from captain Harry Kane and everything was going swimmingly. That good feeling ended when Kyle Walker was called for a foul in the box and resulted in a Tunisia penalty which was converted to tie the game.
This game had draw written all over it until the clock reached stoppage time and captain Harry Kane bailed his English squad out in the biggest way with a winner in the dying seconds. England end the first round of group play in second place in Group G, separated only by goal differential with Belgium.
Harry Kane (11′, 90’+1′)
Ferjani Sassi (35′, pen)
England looked on their way to a disappointing draw. Enter: Harry Kane.
Monday’s games now in the books means Group F and Group G have all completed the first round of group stage matches. Only Group H remains then its back to the top for round 2 beginning in Group A.
Goals of the Day
Another drama filled day of action from the 2018 FIFA World Cup provided us plenty of material to consider. Here’s our three best from Monday.
Dries Mertens (Belgium)
Mertens attempted a volley in the first half but his shot went wide of the goal. He tried again in the second half and connected for a beautiful opening goal for Belgium. The shot was perfectly placed, giving the goalkeeper no hope of making a save.
Lukaku gave us two goals to consider on Monday but we settled on his first more for the pass by Kevin de Bruyne than anything else. An incredible cross by de Bruyne landed perfectly for Lukaku to make a run and head it into the net.
Harry Kane also provided us with a pair of goals for consideration but his second makes the cut for the sheer enormity of it. Staring down a disappointing draw against an inferior Tunisia side, Kane directed in the game winner from a corner kick to save his side.
Check back tomorrow for more great goals from the 2018 World Cup.
Sweden joins Mexico atop Group F following a 1-0 victory over South Korea. A big test awaits them in Germany on Saturday. Belgium leads Group G thanks to their goal differential advantage over England after both sides won their opening matches on Monday.
Following the games in Group G tomorrow, the first match-day of the group stage will be complete. Match-day 2 will begin with Russia and Egypt in Group A.
Here’s What’s Next: Tuesday, June 19th
Match-day 1 of the group stage will come to an end on Tuesday with all four teams from Group H in action for the first time at this World Cup. Colombia hopes to repeat their run from Brazil while Poland and Senegal hope to add more memories to their already rich history.
Once Group H wraps up play in the two early games, Match-day 2 will commence back in Group A with hosts Russia welcoming Egypt to Saint Petersburg in a crucial game for both sides. Egypt fans wait nervously to see if Mo Salah will be fit to play in a must win contest.
Colombia v. Japan (Group H)
Time: 8:00 AM
Location: Mordovia Arena (Saransk)
How to Watch: FS1
Colombia returns to the World Cup looking to build on their quarterfinal run at the 2014 tournament where they also won their group. That 2014 team was led by James Rodriguez’s breakout performance, making him a household name as the winner of the Golden Boot with six goals. Japan has been one of the most consistent Asian teams for the past two decades but they appear to be out gunned in this group.
Poland v. Senegal (Group H)
Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Spartak Stadium (Moscow)
How to Watch: FOX
Poland and Senegal both return to the World Cup in 2018 after absences of 12 and 16 years respectively. Senegal made history in 2002, becoming the first African nation to ever reach the quarterfinals. Poland has history of their own at the World Cup, finishing in third place at the 1974 and 1982 tournaments. Both group winners during their respective qualifying ventures, Poland and Senegal will open group play with dreams of a spot in the knockout rounds. Expect a fast paced game when these two face off in Moscow today.
Russia v. Egypt (Group A)
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Saint Petersburg Stadium (St. Petersburg)
How to Watch: FOX
Beginning the second round of group stage competition will be Russia and Egypt back in Group A. Russia will be looking to continue their roll coming off a 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the tournament. Egypt on the other hand will likely need all three points if they hope to advance into the knockout stages. It remains to be seen if Mo Salah will make his World Cup debut for the Pharaohs in this contest.
You can watch all these games live on the channels listed or streaming online at FoxSports.com with a cable sign in.
If highlights are more your style, check out @FOXSoccer on Twitter where goals and game recaps are posted throughout the day.
All game times are listed in Eastern Standard Time.
Golden Boot Standings
The Golden Boot Award goes to the stop goal scorer at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane join our list after scoring a pair of goals in their respective World Cup openers.
Keep up to date on everything World Cup right here on “The Bat Flip” where we will be posting our daily World Cupdate to recap what went on and preview what’s still to come in Russia.