Ranking World Cup goals: July 2, 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 Monday’s match play:

Japan 😦 … As we’ll do every day during the tournament, it’s a countdown to No. 1 …:

July 2, 2018

No. 7 – Takashi Inui – Japan vs. Belgium

This was a rocket and a wake-up call after a first half with not much to note. From about 25 yards away, Takashi Inui sends this ball to the corner to give Japan a 1-0 lead, opening a half that might have been the best of the tournament.

No. 6 – Roberto Firmino – Brazil vs. Mexico

This one cemented Brazil’s spot in the quarterfinals while also allowing Neymar to set up a goal similar to his earlier in the match. While not a give-and-go, Neymar worked the ball close to the net before sending it to Roberto Firmino, who had a lot of target and not much goalkeeper to beat. In a World Cup that has defied most logic, here’s Brazil in the quarters … Just like every other tournament.

No. 5 – Genki Haraguchi – Japan vs. Belgium

If the world hadn’t allowed itself to accept the idea of Japan upsetting Belgium, Genki Haraguchi was here to open some eyes. As we later saw – or found out – it was not meant to be for Japan. But man, this goal likely put a huge scare in Belgian fans.

No. 4 – Marouane Fellaini – Belgium vs. Japan

We have another tall-man goal! Marouane Fellaini, who stands 6-foot-4 before you measure the hair, heads in this cross to equalize in the 74th minute. One of two Belgian subs to score on the day, this one set the table for an incredible finish.

No. 3 – Neymar – Brazil vs. Mexico

Given the madness of the Belgium-Japan match, No. 3 was the ceiling for this give-and-goal beauty. Watch as Neymar works the ball across the top of the 18, deftly dishes to Willian before charging toward the net. Willian crosses to Neymar, who  slides his way into a 1-0 Brazil lead.

No. 2 – Jan Vertonghen – Belgium vs. Japan

So, this can be filed in the “How in the world …” drawer. A seemingly long series of high volleys ends when an almost flat-footed Jan Vertonghen calmly heads a ball into the net from an odd angle in the 69th minute. It was the harbinger of better things for the Red Devils, after falling behind 2-0 to spunky Japan. 

No. 1 – Nacer Chadli – Belgium vs. Japan

As close to a buzzer beater as you can get, here comes Belgium to break everyone’s hearts. The rollout. The counter attack. The flick from Romelu Lukaku, the only Belgian attacker who was seemingly marked by a desperate Japanese defense and then … Glory. Nacer Chadli finishes and completes one of the wildest sequences of soccer that one will ever see at the World Cup.

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