Rating World Cup opening goals

8 years ago, the first World Cup on African soil launched with much fanfare to the deathening sound of Vuvuzelas. The hosts were up against Mexico in the first game of the tournament. Backed by the home fans, South Africa delivered in the 54th minute. After an interception in the middle of the park, the South African counter-attacked beautifully and Kagisho Dikgacoi released Tshabalala on the left wing. The forward took one deft touch and blasted the ball in the top right corner. This goal was a work of art. The Construction. The Execution. The Finish. Sublime.

Tshabalala’s goal is still etched in football fans’ memories. This is the best World Cup opening goal in recent years.

This was one of the most beautiful goals in the World. – Pele

Phillip Lahm’s wonder strike in 2006 is a close second. With the game locked at 0-0 against a resolute Costa Rica, the diminutive Bayern Munich left-back cut inside and tooka  swipe at it with his preferred right foot. The goalkeeper had no chance. This was an impressive finish from a defender and trumps that of Tshabalala. However, the team work for South Africa’s opener in 2010 makes it an overall better goal.

Next up, we credit Belgium forward Erwin Vandenbergh for his cool finish to secure a 1-0 win against Argentina in the opening game at Espana 1982. A fantastic through pass found Vandenbergh in the space behind the defence, leaving him one-on-one with the goalkeeper. He maneuvered a high ball with aplomb and calmly hit one in the net. The Argentinian goalkeeper might have benefited from coming out quicker onto the Belgian foward but Vandenbergh has to be lauded for his cool handling of the situation.


  1. Tshabalala – South Africa 2010
  2. Lahm – Germany 2006
  3. Erwin Vandenbergh – Espana 1982


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Photo by ÁLVARO MENDOZA on Unsplash

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