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Ranking the Own Goals of the 2018 World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane got nothing on OG, the standout performer of the tournament in Russia

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Own Goal is having a historic World Cup in Russia. This year’s tournament has officially surpassed the previous World Cup own-goal record from the 1998 World Cup.

“OG,” as it’s sometimes called, is a World Cup mainstay, defying allegiance to a single country and impervious to the seemingly inescapable passage of time. With Own Goal having such an inspiring and historic tournament, scoring a variety of goals against several countries, we’ve decided to rank OG’s contributions in the context of in-match situations and OG’s finishing skills. We’ll keep updating this list as Own Goal, ever the poacher, continues to bag them.

Honorable Mention: Diego Costa vs. Iran

This goal is technically (and rightfully) credited to Costa, who gets the final touch before the ball sneaks into the net. Aesthetically, however, this has all the trappings of an own goal. The ball hits the legs of both Costa and the Iranian defender in the box like a pinball machine.

Costa, of course, isn’t going to complain about how the goal looks: Whether he’s muscling through Portuguese defenders for a spectacular solo effort, or finding good fortune with a fortuitous deflection off of his leg, a goal is a goal. This is what Costa does: He’s a prototypical no. 9, and as multiple Ringer employees who wish to remain anonymous have told me, he is a “complete, devourable snack.” (This means he’s super hot.) I don’t doubt the validity of that statement—nor the fact Spain and Iran was the handsomest World Cup match thus far—but I only have eyes for own goals.

Honorable Mention: Oghenekaro Etebo Own Goal: Nigeria vs. Croatia

I’ve loved Telemundo’s World Cup coverage so far, but I don’t agree with the jubilant commentator here when he calls this a “golazo” multiple times. Such a designation should be reserved for, at the very least, a goal that is scored by the attacking team. Unlike the gorgeous kits of both Nigeria and Croatia, this was an ugly goal: Luka Modric’s corner is flicked on by two Croatian teammates (that was pretty!) before it goes off Nigerian midfielder Etebo’s leg (sad and ugly!).

Croatian forward Andrej Kramarić celebrates this goal as if it were his own, but there’s no fooling us: This was an own goal, and a messy one at that.

Honorable Mention: Ahmed Fathi Own Goal: Egypt vs. Russia

While Russia have looked considerably better than we anticipated—it’s not our fault you guys couldn’t crack Elo’s top 30!—and have already scored as many goals as Spain did when winning the 2010 World Cup, the own goal from Egypt’s captain, Ahmed Fathi, can be left off the team’s highlight reel.

Roman Zobnin’s long-range effort was pretty harmless, but there was enough pressure from Russia’s Artem Dzyuba—an Absolute Unit in every sense of the term—against Fathi that the ball careened off the Egyptian’s knee and into his own net. This is also a pro–Mo Salah website, and because this own goal made Salah really upset, it makes us upset, too.

10. Thiago Cionek Own Goal: Senegal vs. Poland

Sometimes, when a ball is blasted into the box, an attacking player will try to poke at the ball—changing the direction of the shot in the last minute is a great way to catch a keeper off-guard, especially if the keeper has already dived in anticipation of the ball’s initial trajectory. That’s basically what Poland’s Thiago Cionek did, and what a finish! Too bad it was against his own team.

This ended up being the first of two bizarre goals the Senegalese would score: M’Baye Niang bagged the team’s second almost immediately after being waved back onto the pitch after an errant back pass from Grzegorz Krychowiak. Senegal isn’t going to complain—not when the own-goal odds and Cionek’s world-class finishing are in their favor.

9. Edson Álvarez Own Goal: Mexico vs. Sweden

Álvarez is responsible for arguably the ugliest goal of the World Cup so far. What should’ve been a relatively straightforward clearance out of the box ends up as a disaster after the Mexican defender’s left foot barely makes contact, the ball bouncing awkwardly off his right knee and into his own net. But Sweden won’t have any problems with how they nabbed their third goal of the game, as it pushed them even closer to the round of 16.

But what Álvarez’s own goal lacked in aesthetics it made up for in its stressful in-match context: With that third goal, Mexico was put in serious danger of getting knocked out of the group stage. El Tri’s goal differential (-1) was inferior to Germany’s, and if the Germans scored a goal against South Korea in their group-stage match, Germany and Sweden would’ve advanced, despite Mexico winning its first two games in the group. Luckily for Mexico, South Korea nabbed two late goals and the Germans didn’t score any—but for a brief moment, Álvarez’s unsightly own goal would’ve been the perfect encapsulation of a historic Mexican collapse.

8. Yassine Meriah Own Goal: Panama vs. Tunisia

This was the ninth own goal of this year’s World Cup, and honestly, I’m at a loss for words. Of course this would happen in the least important game remaining in the tournament—Panama and Tunisia had already been eliminated from Group G and were simply playing for pride. Of course the long-range blast from José Luis Rodríguez would send the Tunisian keeper the wrong way … after deflecting off Tunisia midfielder Yassine Meriah. Of course.

The Ringer’s Donnie Kwak said he would eat a soccer boot if Germany didn’t make it out of the group stage, and that didn’t work out so well for him (Donnie ... please add lots of seasoning). But these own goals are getting out of control, so I’m putting this out there: If we get to 12 own goals at this World Cup, I will also eat a shoe. This can’t continue. It’s absurd.

7. Denis Cheryshev Own Goal: Russia vs. Uruguay

This is just own-goal karma: One match after Egypt gifted the Russians with an own goal and helped assure this year’s hosts would qualify for the round of 16, Russia gives up an own goal of their own. There wasn’t much Denis Cheryshev could do here, as Uruguay midfielder Diego Laxalt smashed the ball into the box after a poor Russian clearance off the corner. What could’ve been an easy save for keeper Igor Akinfeev—if Laxalt’s ball was even going to be on target, which, given its initial trajectory, seemed unlikely—instead bounced bizarrely off Cheryshev’s calf and into the bottom left corner of the net. When I rank own goals, I like to consider the degree of difficulty in the incidental blunder. Given the sheer amount of traffic in front of Akinfeev and the weird spin on the deflection, Cheryshev’s OG was peculiar—and, if you’re Russian, deflating.

This own goal tied the record for most own goals in the World Cup with six—one more than current Golden Boot leader Harry Kane.

6. Sergei Ignashevich Own Goal: Spain vs. Russia

We have a 10th for OG! (And the first of the knockout stages.) Honestly, the only word that came to mind when I saw this own goal—which put Spain ahead in the 12th minute of their round of 16 bout with mother Russia on Sunday—was cheeky. Somehow, as Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich grappled with Sergio Ramos for position off a Marco Asensio cross, Ignashevich was able to flick out his right foot and deflect the ball with his ankle over an unexpecting Igor Akinfeev for the first goal of the match. And all with his back turned! Just superb. (Also, big ups to Ramos for shamelessly celebrating the goal as if it were his—an underrated but essential part of any great own goal.)

Fortunately for the hosts, Artem Dzyuba equalized from the spot in the 41st minute, and the game remained level through extra time, assuring both Ignashevich and Akinfeev a chance at redemption in a penalty shootout. On the strength of four composed Russian finishes in the shootout (including one from Ignashevich) and two critical saves from Akinfeev, Russia pulled it out, sending the host nation into hysterics. — Rob Schaefer

5. Aziz Behich Own Goal: Australia vs. France

This had all the qualities of a great own goal: It was actually the result of some excellent build-up play from Paul Pogba, who decided to charge through Australia’s defense like LeBron on a fast break. It is as much Pogba’s goal—it was even initially awarded to him—as poor Aussie left back Aziz Behich’s, who volleyed the ball from a tricky angle to float it over his own keeper, off the post, and barely over the line.

Better yet, this happened in the 80th minute of a tied match—a result that the Socceroos would’ve loved to hold on to against the toughest opponent in the group. The Behich own goal wasn’t just stunning to look at: It was clutch, and if you’re Australian, absolutely crushing.

4. Aziz Bouhaddouz Own Goal: Morocco vs. Iran

Yes, it’s another last-minute own goal, and once again, it came from someone named Aziz! Iran didn’t register a single shot on target in the second half against Morocco, but no matter: In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Moroccan forward Aziz Bouhaddouz headed the ball into his own net off an Iran free kick with some heat.

Seeing this goal live, I actually assumed it was an Iranian player who scored—perhaps the best hallmark of a good own goal is that goal looking so goddamn pretty you don’t even realize it was scored by a player from the wrong team. I feel for Morocco: They were the first team officially eliminated from the World Cup, and still haven’t scored a goal in spite of playing better than Iran and Portugal. Their midfield has been dynamic; their coach looks like Jaime Lannister—all they needed was some Bouhaddouz-esque finishing against … another team.

3. Fernandinho Own Goal: Brazil vs. Belgium

OG notched its 11th goal of the World Cup in the quarterfinal round, this time in the 13th minute of Belgium’s matchup with Brazil. Nacer Chadli created the chance with a tightly curled corner kick; the ball flew just over a lunging Vincent Kompany’s head and glanced off the right shoulder of Fernandinho, past Brazilian keeper Alisson Becker, and into the back of the net. Belgium led 1-0. Kevin De Bruyne doubled their advantage with an absolute screamer 18 minutes later, and the Belgians were able to hold off a flurry of Brazil attacks in the final 20 minutes en route to a 2-1 victory. All in all, it wasn’t OG’s most dramatic or comical effort, but given the result of the match, it might have been the highest stakes own goal of the World Cup so far.

It’s a cruel, cruel world we live in that an errant deflection off your own player’s shoulder can be the difference between a shot at the World Cup semifinals and crushing defeat. But that’s life. Neymar and Brazil are rolling right on home, and we have OG (in part) to thank. — Rob Schaefer

2. Yann Sommer Own Goal: Switzerland vs. Costa Rica

Wow. This is it. We have reached own-goal nirvana. Of course Bryan Ruiz would shank the game-tying penalty for Costa Rica, only for the ball to go straight from the post to the head of Swiss keeper Yann Sommer and into the back of the net. And, of course, this also happened in stoppage time.

We are now at a record eight own goals and counting, but this goal will be almost impossible to top—barring Vladimir Putin ripping off his suit to reveal a Russia jersey, invading the pitch, and executing a scorpion kick against his own country. Long live own goals; long live the 2018 World Cup.

1. Mario Mandzukic Own Goal: France vs. Croatia

Wasn’t this inevitable? In a World Cup defined by own goals, it was only fitting that Sunday’s final between France and Croatia would have one of its own. The unfortunate culprit was Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic, who headed the ball into his own net off a free kick from Antoine Griezmann to give Les Bleus a 1-0 lead. (Mandzukic redeemed himself in the second half, notching Croatia’s second goal off a goalkeeping error from Hugo Lloris, though Croatia would go on to lose 4-2.)

It’s now official: Not only did the 2018 World Cup have more own goals than any previous tournament, it also doubled the previous record of six from 1998—coincidentally, the year France won their first World Cup. And while Yann Sommer’s own goal is far and away the silliest OG of the tournament, Mandzukic’s inadvertent flick gets the top spot, by virtue of being in the most important game of them all. And with that, OG bows out with 12 goals. What a poacher. I guess I have to go eat a boot, too.

This piece was updated at 3:15 p.m. ET on June 28 with additional information after publication.