Ranking World Cup goals: June 23, 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.

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

What we learned Saturday is that Belgium can score in clusters, Mexico can score more than once and that Germany – for all its steely precision – can generate the most emotional goal of the tournament so far. Saturday gave us 13 goals, at the behest of The Bat Flip’s one-man ranking committee. As we’ll do every day during the tournament, it’s a countdown to No. 1 …:

June 23, 2018

No. 13 – Eden Hazard (1) – Belgium vs. Tunisia

Don’t worry. Eden Hazard makes an appearance later in the countdown. This was a penalty kick. Nothing to really see here.

No. 12 – Carlos Vela – Mexico vs. South Korea

This is exciting only for the really enthused call from Telemundo.

No. 11 – Dylan Bronn – Tunisia vs. Belgium

Off a set piece from about 25 yards away, Dylan Bronn headed in this Wahbi Khazri bender to give Tunisia the slightest amount of hope against the Belgium adding machine. That hope wouldn’t last too long, as one would expect.

No. 10 – Ola Toivonen – Sweden vs. Germany

This lobbing flick deserved a lot higher than No. 10, especially when Sweden was wearing these absolutely amazing blue kits. Sweden alllllllllllllllmost stole a point from Germany, which could have put the Germans into a huge bind heading into Matchday 3. Alas, as you’ll see later in the countdown, it wasn’t meant to be.

No. 9 – Wahbi Khazri – Tunisia vs. Belgium

This goal had zero meaning in the grand scheme of things, but it meant the world to Wahbi Khazri. But after Khazri found the net, he rushed inside to retrieve the ball for a keepsake that might be the most meaningful of his international career.

No. 8 – Romelu Lukaku (1) – Belgium vs. Tunisia

Romelu Lukaku will not be happy until he puts a ball in every soccer net in the world. His third goal of this World Cup saw him running alongside Dries Mertens, who sent a pass where only Lukaku could steady the ball before ripping a shot into the far corner.

No. 7 – Marco Reus – Germany vs. Sweden

This goal was inevitable. There was no way that Germany – the current holder of the World Cup – was getting blanked in back-to-back games. Timo Werner crossed the ball after stepping into the 18. Mario Gomez flicked it upward. Marco Reus finished with a redirection. This is the Germany that world knows.

No. 6 – Chicharito – Mexico vs. South Korea

OK, so this goal wound up at No. 6. Watch this. THIS goal was No. 6 on the day. That’s how great the top five are. Javier Hernandez – or Chicharito as he is known – located the net when Hirving Lozano ended a long-running build-up with a pass to Chicharito. All the Mexican forward had to do was juke South Korea’s Jang Hyunsoo and push the ball netward.

No. 5 – Eden Hazard (2) – Belgium vs. Tunisia

The long through to Eden Hazard led to a bit of an undressing as Hazard played a ball to himself over Tunisian keeper Ben Mustapha. After that, Hazard was able to poke the ball into a very open net as Mustapha could only watch and react in exasperation.

No. 4 – Michy Batshuayi – Belgium vs. Tunisia

This sliding strike from Michy Batshuayi was visually pleasing as the perfectly timed boot found the side of the net, giving Belgium its fifth goal of the day. Batshuayi had tried earlier in the match to get his goal. This sequence got it for him.

No. 3 – Romelu Lukaku (2) – Belgium vs. Tunisia

The finish was delightful. The build-up was crisp. This was the exact moment when the world realized that Belgium wasn’t sleepwalking through this match. The feed from Thomas Meunier from just atop the 18 located Romelu Lukaku, who chipped the ball over a sliding Ben Mustapha.

No. 2 – Heungmin Son – South Korea vs. Mexico

Bask in the glowing vapor trail left behind by this Heungmin Son strike in stoppage time. All it accomplished on the sheet was that it cut Mexico’s lead in half while finding a spot that even Guillermo Ochoa couldn’t reach.

No. 1 – Toni Kroos – Germany vs. Sweden

About as late into stoppage time as one can get, Toni Kroos gave three points to Germany as it entered the second half on the verge of elimination. Kroos chose to bump his free kick try to Marco Reus, who stopped the ball just as Kroos began his swing and parked a shot past Sweden’s Robin Olsen. Sweden deserved better. This goal might wind up being the most important goal in Germany’s campaign to repeat as World Cup champion.

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