The World Cup comes once every four years and it brings out the best in all the teams. Most of the time, it’s the powerhouse teams who prevail, but there are always opportunities where the underdogs have surprised the world with shocking wins. Here are our top 10 biggest upsets in World Cup history.
10. USA defeats Portugal at the 2002 World Cup
USA finished last in the 1998 World Cup. Therefore, nobody expected them to cause any trouble with Portugal in 2002. The Portugal team was loaded with stars and they were expected to easily win over the United States. However, Team USA had other plans. USA scored first in the game with a goal from John O’Brien in the fourth minute. This lead was increased to 3 goals to nil by the 36th minute, with another goal from Brian McBride. Portugal was not just a spectator as they scored one goal in each of the two halves, but that was not enough, with USA winning the game 3 to 2.
9. South Korea defeats Italy at the 2002 World Cup
Even though South Korea was hosting the World Cup in 2002, nobody expected them to win against Italy. Italy scored first in the game and they managed to maintain the lead for quite some time, but South Korea scored in the 88th minute to tie the game at 1-1. In the extra time, South Korea stunned the world by scoring the golden goal and the Italians lost the match. South Korea went on to reach the quarter-finals, the furthest the country has ever advanced in World Cup history.
8. Northern Ireland defeats Spain at the 1982 World Cup
This was the last match for Spain in the group stage and they were easily expected to win against Northern Ireland. Spain had already qualified and they did not need a win to move to the next round whereas Northern Ireland needed to win to move to the next round. Spain were the favorites as they were not only the better team on paper, but they were also hosting the World Cup that year. However, Gerry Armstrong from Northern Ireland had other plans and he scored the lone goal of the game and Northern Ireland managed to beat Spain, 1-0.
7. Bulgaria defeats Germany at the 1994 World Cup
Germany was expected to win this game and though the Bulgarians were not expected to give up easily, nobody expected them to defeat the powerhouse of football at that time. Germany scored first in the game when they were awarded a penalty. However, Bulgaria managed to equalize the score later in the game with a beautiful free kick. Three minutes later, they extended the lead with a perfect header and then played out the rest of the game to beat Germany.
6. Senegal beats France in the 2002 World Cup
France had just won the World Cup in 1998 for the first time. Inspired by the maverick Zinedine Zidane, France was expected to put up a great show in the 2002 World Cup. However, Zidane suffered an injury before the World Cup even started and had to sit out for the first few matches. This proved to be crucial as they played Senegal in the opening match of the 2002 World Cup. France was stunned when Papa Bouba Diop of Senegal scored in the 30th minute to take the lead. France made some amazing attempts, but could not score a goal for the remainder of the game. They also failed to move beyond the first round. Senegal finished 7th in their one and only appearance in the World Cup tournament.
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