SAO PAULO, June 17 (Reuters) - The World Cup’s opening group games have produced several goals of breathtaking quality. The following are five of the best so far according to Reuters.
Robin van Persie (Netherlands 5 Spain 1)
A stunning goal to match a stunning result as the Netherlands came from behind to thump world champions Spain in Salvador.
With Spain leading 1-0 through Xabi Alonso’s 27th minute penalty, Van Persie sprung the offside trap to launch himself in the air and meet a raking cross from left wing back Daley Blind.
The Dutch captain’s diving, looping header caught Spain keeper Iker Casillas in no man’s land and dipped below the bar to tie the score at 1-1.
“It was a brilliant goal, I have to be fair,” said Van Persie. “It was a bit of a gamble but just before the pass I saw Iker Casillas out of his goal. It was a header, really a lob-header, but a great goal.”
Lionel Messi (Argentina 2 Bosnia 1)
Argentine number 10 Messi picked the perfect time to score his first goal at the World Cup finals for eight years.
With Argentina leading 1-0 but struggling to put World Cup debutants Bosnia away, the four times World Player of the Year lit up the Maracana in the 65th minute, dancing past a defender, playing a one-two with Gonzalo Higuain before striking home a sweet left-foot shot that went in off the post.
It was Messi’s first goal at the finals since he scored in Argentina’s 6-0 win over Serbia & Montenegro almost eight years ago to the day.
Haris Seferovic (Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1)
Seferovic finished off a breathtaking box-to-box counter-attack in stoppage time to give Switzerland a thrilling 2-1 win over Ecuador, but excellent refereeing by Ravshan Irmatov also played a part in the goal.
Valon Behrami’s brilliant block tackle in his own box got the move underway, and Uzbek official Irmatov allowed him to continue his surge into Ecuador territory despite almost being bowled over by a bodycheck.
As the flowing move continued and the ball was fed out wide, Seferovic stole in across the Ecuador defence to clip home Ricardo Rodriguez’s cross and round off a tremendous team goal that sent Swiss fans into raptures.
Clint Dempsey (United States 2 Ghana 1)
The American took 30 seconds to put his side 1-0 up against Ghana, recording one of the fastest goals at a World Cup.
Dempsey, who became the first U.S. player to score at three World Cups, picked the ball up from a throw-in outside the Ghana box, and surged towards goal.
Showing terrific balance at full stride, the U.S. skipper zigzagged past two defenders into the area and struck a left-foot shot in off the far post.
Dempsey’s goal was the fifth fastest at a World Cup. Turkey’s Hakan Sukur holds the record for the fastest goal which he netted after 11 seconds against South Korea in 2002.
Arjen Robben (Netherlands 5 Spain 1)
Dutch winger Robben capped a rampaging performance against shell-shocked Spain by outsprinting the defence from inside his own half, tying goalkeeper Iker Casillas up in knots and firing home with his left foot.
Media reports say the 30-year-old reached 37kph during his sprint, the fastest ever recorded by FIFA in a game. Olympic sprint champion and world record holder Usain Bolt has been clocked at just under 45kph.
Robben’s goal was the perfect bookend to the Dutch scoring after Robin van Persie tied the game at 1-1 with his superb diving header in the first half. (Editing by Ken Ferris)