Laura Bassett, Japan vs. England, 2015 Women's World Cup
Laura Bassett agonizingly ended England’s Women’s World Cup dreams after she poked the ball off her own crossbar and into the net to give Japan a ticket to the final. It was one of the most gut-wrenching moments in World Cup history, and it ranks among our biggest blunders.
AFP/Getty ImagesGEOFF ROBINS
Andres Escobar, Colombia vs. USA, 1994 Men's World Cup
One of the greatest tragedies in the game, Escobar was found shot dead 12 days after this match in Colombia after he inadvertently diverted a harmless cross into the back of his own net, allowing the hosts to win 2-1. Chillingly, Escobar had warned his teammates not to go home after the loss, saying they would be shot.
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Howard Webb, Netherlands vs. Spain, 2010 Men's World Cup Final
Another of the great refereeing blunders, Webb inexplicably allowed Nigel De Jong to plant a chest-high, studs-up tackle into Xabi Alonso. De Jong remained on the field, but the Dutch combusted anyway, and lost in what is widely considered one of the dirtiest finals ever played.
Action ImagesAndrew Boyers
Zinedine Zidane, Italy vs. France, 2006 Men's World Cup Final
In one of the great combustions of all time, the talismanic French midfielder was sent off for head-butting Marco Materazzi in his final match in a national team jersey. To make matters worse, the incident occurred in a World Cup final, one that Italy would win 5-3 on penalties. Zidane’s actions remained a mystery after the match, with the full story never coming to light. Consequently, he was roundly condemned in the French media. It is understood that Materazzi provoked him, but even though both men eventually apologized, Zidane said he did not regret the offense.
Action Images / ReutersKai Pfaffenbach
Graham Poll, Croatia vs. Australia, 2006 Men's World Cup
Referees are as fallible as anyone else, but Poll, once England’s best referee, had a nightmare when he failed to send Josip Simunic off late after the Croat collected a second booking. Simunic then promptly collected his third yellow card and was ejected; Poll would later retire.
Action Images / ReutersOLEG POPOV
Rene Higuita, Colombia vs. Cameroon, 1990 Men’s World Cup
Cameroon made World Cup history after becoming the first African team to win a knockout stage match following Roger Milla’s performance against Colombia thanks to 'El Loco' Higuita’s memorable gaffe in extra time. Always the risk taker and showman, the Colombia goalkeeper lost possession 35 yards out as Milla stripped Higuita of the ball and scored on an open net. The goal would immortalize Milla in World Cup lore.
Robert Green, England vs. USA, 2010 Men’s World Cup
In what should have been an easy save from a decent long-distance shot from American striker Clint Dempsey in the 40th minute of play, Green fumbled the ball, which bounced off him and rolled into the goal. The match ended in a draw, and Germany would eliminate England 4-1.
Action ImagesJason Cairnduff
Roberto Baggio, Italy vs. Brazil, 1994 Men's World Cup Final
Baggio was a great player, but he is forever remembered for this incredible miss, a ballooned penalty attempt in the tiebreaker after a scoreless draw that allowed Brazil to hoist the World Cup.