In every sport, unexpected comebacks are always thrilling. Football matches might not have as much action compared to Ice Hockey, rugby, or wrestling, but Football matches can be equally as unpredictable. And for this reason, these events will forever be remembered in football history.
The craziest comebacks in FIFA World Cup history put spectators on their feet, gave many football fans new hope, and demonstrated the talent of numerous teams. These are the most stunning comebacks the World Cup has ever witnessed, whether they were brought on by a star player, a costly error, or just good cooperation by the teams. With the World Cup coming to Qatar in 2022, let’s have a look back at some of the World Cup’s most memorable comebacks in the past.
Greatest Comebacks in World Cup History
1954 Quarter Final, Switzerland vs Austria
The World Cup 1954 campaign featured 2 comebacks, both in the quarterfinals and the finals, making it the year of the greatest comebacks in World Cup history. What a suspenseful experience this must have been for the spectators back then. To begin with, the Quarterfinals match between Switzerland and Austria had a shocking result that viewers will never forget. In this game, a total of 12 goals were scored, breaking the previous record for the most scoring game.
After 24 minutes, Switzerland had a 3-goals lead after a good start to the game. The sixth hat trick in World Cup history was then scored by Austria’s Theodore Wagner to counter those goals. Before the first half ended, the squad pulled ahead and scored a total of 5 goals. Austria finally prevailed 7-5 in that game.
1974 Final, West Germany vs Netherlands
The 1974 World Cup was one of those incredible times for fans since West Germany has a reputation for mounting some of the greatest comebacks in World Cup history. The game was played on the home soil of West Germany, but after just two minutes of play, the Netherlands scored, causing a tense situation in the stadium full of fans. Paul Breitner’s incredible penalty kick and Gerd Muller’s decisive goal complete the comeback which gave Germany their second World Cup victory.
2002 Round of 16, South Korea vs Italy
Hosts South Korea made a strong start to the competition, topping a group that included the US, Portugal, and Poland. In contrast, Italy had struggled and had lost shockingly to Croatia in the group stage. The defending champions were still seen as the favorites going into the matchup with the host team back then. South Korea had a penalty right away, but they didn’t take use of it. Italy’s response saw them score first. Seol Ki-Hyeon, a Korean winger, scored the equalizer for South Korea in the 88th minute as they continued in their battle. Just as a penalty shoot-out looked inevitable, Ahn Jung Hwan scored the game-winning goal for his squad.
1966 Quarterfinal, North Korea vs Portugal
In the quarterfinal round of the World Cup 1966, Portugal’s situation appeared hopeless after falling behind 3-0 to an astonishingly talented North Korean team. However, a man who was well deserving of such duty and one of the finest to wear the nation’s colors, Eusebio, put up a tremendous effort to recover control in Goodison Park. The ruthless forward put his side on adrenaline by scoring 4 goals in the span of 32 minutes, giving his nation the opportunity to advance to the next round of the tournament after a 5-3 win. Portugal eventually finished third, behind West Germany and the eventual champions England.
1998 Semi Final, France vs Croatia
Croatia, one of the top teams in the 1998 World Cup, defeated the tournament’s champions Germany by a score of 3-0 to go to the semifinal matchup against France. The Croatian team gained confidence and thought they had a genuine chance to win their first championship. Their confidence was increased by Davor Suker’s outstanding strike, which gave the Croatians the lead and moved them closer to the championship. But like with many comebacks, Lilian Thuram, a French fullback, steps in as the hero. Even more amazing is the fact that his two goals that day were his only two in 142 appearances, which helped France advance to the finals.
2014 Round of 16, Netherlands vs Mexico
The Netherlands defeated Mexico in the Round of 16 with a 2-1 comeback victory. Giovani dos Santos’ stunning shot in the 48th minute gave the Mexicans the lead, and they appeared to be in possession for the majority of the game. The Dutch were having trouble coping with the over 100-degree field temperature as Mexico displayed their exceptional match fitness. It wasn’t meant to be for El Tri, though. In the 88th minute, Wesley Sneijder scored on a strong effort after a header pass from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar following a corner kick. The Dutch had the upper hand at that stage in the momentum battle.
2002 Quarter Final, Brazil vs England
Brazil’s quarterfinal appearance gave players and supporters some reason to be hopeful after a less than great performance to open their qualification campaign. They were four-time winners and were up against a tough English team that was prepared to put up a fight. All hope appeared to be lost when Michael Owen scored the opening goal in the 23rd minute, and the English supporters could not have wished for more. But in the 47th minute, Ronaldinho changed his mind and helped Rivaldo score Brazil’s opening goal. Both teams had the self-assurance to go for the victory at the half, but yet again it was Ronaldinho who shocked the world with the greatest free kick in history. In the 50th minute, he literally chipped England goalkeeper Seaman from 32 metres out to score in the upper left corner.
2006 Group Stage, Australia vs Croatia
Australia is not well-known for its football, but under coach Guus Hiddink, the team advanced to the Round of 16. An historic occasion for both the players and the nation occurred in that match since Australia hadn’t advanced past the group stage in 32 years. They did not win, but they did come from behind twice and tie the game at 2-2. They were given three yellow cards for playing such aggressive football, yet they still managed to go through the group stage and into the knockout round, making history as the first team from the Oceania Confederation to do so. Needless to say, the match lit a fire in the hearts of all Australian footballers, and they have never looked back since then.