1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) vs Spain
Cristiano Ronaldo had already scored two in the game vs Spain, but Diego Costa’s brace and Nacho’s thunderous goal kept Spain in the lead. The going got tough for Portugal as Spain neutralized every attacking move they performed. Time was running out, Portuguese hopes were dying. The Spaniards in and out of the stadium were in a celebratory mood as they pretty much had three points in the bag. Portugal was awarded a free-kick with just a couple of minutes remaining in normal time.
Ronaldo was lining up to take the shot and by his standards, the distance was not too far. Nevertheless, the pressure on his shoulders at that point in time was certainly humongous. With a million hopes pinned on him, the living legend pulled off one of the greatest moments of his scintillating career. He curled the ball into the top right corner, and the pace on it ensured De Gea remained stagnant. He single-handedly earned Portugal a point and their hopes of winning the World Cup are pretty much alive.
2. Philippe Coutinho (Brazil) vs Switzerland
It was imperative for someone else to show up and it was the little magician Philippe Coutinho who made the entire stadium stand up and applaud the genius he is. Marcelo’s cross into the box was headed away by the defense and it fell for Coutinho just outside the box.
The ball fell in an area where he usually loves to operate and he outrageously thwacked the ball in the top right corner. It was Coutinho at his razor-sharp best, and that clearly instilled a lot of confidence in his teammates. But Steven Zuber’s second-half goal muted the Samba beats for the remainder of the game, and it all ended in a 1-1 draw.
3. Denis Cheryshev (Russia) vs Saudi Arabia
Russia entered the championship with form against them. Yet home advantage was always going to come into play, and it came in big time. Russia annihilated Saudi Arabia in the first game of the tournament, thumping them 5-0. Yuri Gazinsky scored the first goal of the World Cup finals in the 12th minute of the game. Just before the first 45 came to a close, Denis Cheryshev, who came in as a substitute for the injured Alan Dzagoev, scored the second with a neat finish from close range. Aleksandr Samedov scored the third one for Russia, which pretty much settled the deal and ensured a sleepless party night for the host nation.
But that wasn’t the end as the Russian players pulled off two more spectacular goals. Cheryshev, towards the dying minutes of normal time, romped through into the box from the left wing. With a stellar attempt from outside off his left foot, he managed to get the ball in the net off the goal keeper’s left to score his second on the night.