The Greatest Knockout Stage Shocks In World Cup History
In terms of recent memory, you could easily make an argument that the ongoing 2018 World Cup has been the most exciting edition of the competition to come around in decades. And the key to that is the fact that so many supposed underdogs have pulled off the impossible and sent some of world football’s biggest nations out of the tournament – most notably host nation Russia sending the mighty Spain crashing out on penalties in the last 16.
Throughout the history of the World Cup, part of the competition’s charm is the propensity to serve up a classic underdog story. Let’s face, who doesn’t love an underdog story, after all?
With that in mind, here are five of the greatest shocks to take place during the World Cup’s knockout stages.
#5 World Cup 1994 Last 16: Romania 3 – 2 Argentina
Of course, the Romanian national team of the 1990s was famed for having the mercurial Gheorghe Hagi in their ranks. Romania’s greatest ever player, Hagi amassed 125 international caps throughout a career in which he regularly dominated games. But still, nobody gave Hagi’s Romania a chance of toppling the almighty Argentina when the sides met in the last 16 of the 1994 World Cup.
That was an Argentina team that had megastars such as Gabriel Batistuta, Claudio Caniggia, Ariel Ortega, Fernando Redondo, Diego Simeone, Roberto Sensini, and Jose Chamot in their ranks. Granted, disgraced captain Diego Maradona had been sent home after failing a drugs test, but this was an Argentina side overflowing with quality.
Romania had quietly gone about their business in Group A, defeating Colombia and the USA, yet getting turned over 4-1 by Switzerland. Gheorghe Popescu, Dan Petrescu, Illie Dumitrescu, and Florin Raducioiu had impressed alongside Hagi throughout the group stages, and it was a double from Dumitrescu and a Hagi strike that saw the Romanians shockingly knock Argentina out in the last 16 after a 3-2 victory that is still talked about to this day.