Despite Nigeria’s heart-breaking ouster from this year’s World Cup, the Super Eagles bowed out on a night one of their star players, Victor Moses entered the record books by scoring the 23rd penalty of this year’s Mundial.
While Lionel Messi’s goal for Argentina in Tuesday’s final group match against Nigeria was the 100th goal of this year’s global soccer showpiece, Moses ensured he gave the Eagles a part of history by netting from the spot, after Javier Mascherano hauled Leon Aderemi Balogun down in the box early in the second half.
As we approach the knock out stage at this year’s World Cup, six prominent all-time records have been broken in Russia, among which is the most penalties awarded in a single edition, with last night’s kick by Moses taking the figure to 23.
Despite many penalties converted, top stars, Messi famously missed from the spot in action versus Iceland, while Cristiano Ronaldo failed to convert in the crucial last group match for Portugal against Iran.
The introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has become a major talking point in issues of penalties, with some awarded and many others waved off, like Nigeria’s call against Marcos Rojo for handling the ball inside the box last night, when scores stood at 1-1
Overall, eight penalties have been awarded due to VAR and one penalty call was also annulled using the same video playback technology. Without VAR, 15 penalties have been awarded so far, which is two more than the total number at Brazil 2014.
A total of 23 penalties were awarded after 41 games, which more than the previous record of 18 from the 1990, 1998 and 2002 editions; but 17 have been converted and five either missed or saved.
From the beginning, the hosts showed that this is bound to be a really astonishing World Cup, as Russia’s remarkable efforts in their opening two games – 5-0 against Saudi Arabia and 3-1 versus Egypt – saw them set a new tournament record for flying starts for the home team.
While Nigeria’s 19-year-old rookie, Francis Odinaka Uzoho is the youngest goalkeeper in the competition, Egypt’s Essam El-Hadaryis the oldest player ever in World Cup history, at 45.
Uruguay’s coach, Oscar Tabárez, at 71, became the first manager to appear in four World Cups with the same team and Mexico defender, Rafael Marquez became only the third player in the history of the tournament to appear in five editions.
While Senegal’s KAS Eupen right-back Moussa Wague became Africa’s youngest World Cup goal scorer ever, the man who equalised for Japan in the 2-2 draw, Keisuke Honda, became his country’s oldest scorer at 32.
Denmark’s last group match against France yesterday became the first game to end goalless at Russia 2018, but that does not take away the fact that many late goals have been hit so far.
Remember Toni Kroos for Germany against Sweden, Philippe Coutinho and Neymar for Brazil against Costa Rica, as well as Luis Suarez for Uruguay against Saudi Arabia, Marcos Rojo for Argentina versus Nigeria and Ronaldo for Portugal against Spain.
Indeed, Ronaldo scored the first hat trick of Russia 2018, and quickly went top of the goals scorers’ log, until Harry Kane followed suit for England in a 6-1 trouncing of Panama, few days after netting two in a 2-1 spanking of Tunisia.
Belgium’s Dries Mertens became the first player to score in two different World Cups for his nation, since Marc Wilmots in 1998 and 2002, Sweden beat Mexico to get their first ever win in an opening match since 1958, and Germany became the fourth defending champions to lose a first match of the group stage four years after becoming title holders.
Down the line, it’s good to see that dramatic results, huge upsets and tight matches have been a theme of the tournament so far, and plenty of records have come tumbling down.
These include several individual milestones, like Romelu Lukaku becoming the Belgian player with most goals for his country at any major tournament (4) and Messi is the first player to score as a teenager, in his twenties and now his thirties in World Cup history – from Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and in last night’s 2-1 win against Nigeria.
In addition, records belonging to some teams have also been rewritten, among which is The Three Lions of England’s six goals against Panama, which is now the most the Englishmen have ever scored in a single World Cup match.
As second round action now begins on Saturday, with France taking on Argentina, it is left to be seen how many other records would be broken and new marks set, as Russia 2018 hots up.