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5 most important goals scored by substitutes at the FIFA World Cup

Neelabhra Roy
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 14:21 IST

Image result for hernan medford costa rica 1990
Medford's goal took Costa Rica to the round of 16 at the 1990 World Cup

The FIFA World Cup began in 1930 but substitutions didn’t exist until 1970. Soviet Union manager Gavril Kachalin made the first substitution in World Cup history against Mexico at the 1970 World Cup. Anatoliy Puznach was the first substitute player in the history of the World Cup.

The first goal by a substitute in the World Cup was scored by Mexico’s Juan Ignacio Basaguren, against El Salvador. So far, there have been a total of 175 goals scored in the FIFA World Cup by a substitute. Cameroon legend Roger Milla scored all of his 5 World Cup goals whilst coming off the bench. There have been five World Cup matches where all goals were scored by substitutes; two in 1990 and three in 2014.

The most number of substitute goals in a World Cup is 33 in 2014, bettering 2006’s record of 23. The 2006 World Cup match between Argentina and Serbia and Montenegro is the only instance when all substitutes from a single team went on to score goals in the match. Hungary’s Laszlo Kiss is the only substitute who has scored a hat-trick, doing so against El Salvador in 1982.

There have been numerous brilliant goals being scored by subs. However, there are a few goals which were more crucial than brilliant and had a significant impact on the country’s footballing history. Here are five of the most important goals scored by a substitute in the FIFA World Cup.

Honorable mentions: David Platt (England) vs Belgium in 1990 and Kjetil Rekdal (Norway) vs Mexico in 1994

#5. Hernan Medford, Costa Rica vs Sweden, 1990

Hernan Medford scored one of the most important goals in Costa Rica’s footballing history at the 1990 World Cup. The former Honduras manager scored a goal during the qualifiers against Panama. He was in the squad for the tournament and came on as a late substitute during Costa Rica’s tournament opener against Sweden.

Medford was an unused sub during Costa Rica’s 0-1 defeat to Brazil. Costa Rica needed to win their final group game against Sweden to be assured of a spot in the last 16. The already-eliminated Sweden took the lead in the 32nd minute. At the hour-mark, Medford came on as a substitute, replacing midfielder Roger Gomez. Costa Rica equalized in the 75th minute thanks to skipper Roger Flores. In the 87th minute, Flores headed a kick from Swedish keeper Tomas Ravelli towards Medford.


The 21-year old received the pass and raced through the Swedish defence, to score the winner and send Costa Rica into the last 16. Medford went on to captain Costa Rica at the 2002 World Cup and ended his career with 87 appearances and 16 goals. However, he will always be remembered as the man who sent Costa Rica to the knockout stages of the 1990 World Cup.

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Published 18 Dec 2017, 00:07 IST
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