Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia
Deputy Sports Editor
The first match of the tournament, following a spectacular opening ceremony set the tone for a thrilling month-long spectacle full of surprises, spills and tears.
No one gave Russia a chance in this tournament but they showed they would be no pushovers, with Yury Gazinsky opening the scoring for the hosts after only 12 minutes. Further strikes from Denis Cheryshev (2), Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin gave Russia a famous, impressive victory and they went on to reach the quarter-finals despite being the lowest-ranked team in the tournament.
Germany 0 — 2 South Korea
Deputy Editor — Guides
My confidence in Germany winning this game was at such a high level, it touched on smug. Even the people sitting next to me were expecting Germany to win, which was why they kept trying to change the channel to watch the Mexico game instead, since the result on this one was so predictable. They were the holders after all!
Poor little naive Yousra, who thought her team was unstoppable. Germany not only lost the game 2-0, but they were kicked out of the World Cup. This was not my favourite World Cup memory, but it sure was the most memorable and surprising game for me this Fifa 2018.
Spain 3-3 Portugal
The 3-3 Iberian duel between Spain and Portugal, just one day into the tournament, for me, got the World Cup off to the best possible start. Not only did Spain twice come from behind through Diego Costa to then extend via Nacho to go 3-2 up with half an hour remaining, but also Cristiano Ronaldo’s beautiful 88th minute free-kick to ensure the point and his hat-trick, also provided the ultimate benchmark to the “who is best?” argument. It came just a day before Lionel Messi went on to miss a penalty for Argentina in a 1-1 draw against Iceland. That was pretty much it from both ageing icons however, as they both went on to crash out on the same day in the Last 16.
Croatia 2-1 England (after extra-time)
Editor, GCC & Middle East
As a novice sports follower, I got into the World Cup for the first time this year. In the first round, Croatia impressed me and I declared my unflinching support. As others laughed at my seemingly random choice, I stuck by team. My favourite game was the Croatia vs England semi-final. Although England scored in the first five minutes of the game I knew that Croatia would come back in full force in the second half. Sure enough Ivan Perisic leapt in the air, foot-forward scoring the tying goal. I knew that moment that it was game over for England — Mandzukic scored the winning goal in stoppage time. Not bad for a World Cup beginner!
England 6-1 Panama
I couldn’t believe my eyes. As a fan, watching England play Panama in their second group game was a bit like a waking dream. Five goals in 45 minutes, 5-0 up at half time. A truly remarkable scoreline. For most of my life, beating a team 6-1, as it ended, was reserved for the giants of Germany, Brazil or Spain. On June 24, for the first time I can remember, we did make it look easy. Two great setpiece from John Stones, two confident penalties from Harry Kane, and a brilliant curling strike from Jesse Lingard. A third goal from Kane to complete his hat-trick in the second half rounded off what was the most enjoyable and exhilarating England World Cup match I can ever remember seeing.