We are nearing the end of the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and we have every reason to suggest that it will go down as the greatest tournament ever.
Late goals, dramatic results, huge upsets and tight matches have been a theme of the tournament so far. As a result, plenty of records have come tumbling down.
These include several records or milestones individuals have reached for their national teams like Romelu Lukaku becoming the Belgian player with most goals at a major tournament.
In addition, many records belonging to a particular team have also been rewritten. For instance, England’s six goals against Panama was the most they scored in a single World Cup match.
However, more interestingly, six all-time World Cup records have also been broken during the World Cup in Russia.
#6 Most penalties in a single World Cup - 22 so far
This record was broken so early in the tournament only because of the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Seven penalties were awarded due to the VAR as at time of writing and one penalty call was also rescinded using the same technology. Even without the VAR, 15 penalties were awarded, which is two more than the total number of penalties awarded in Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
In total, 22 penalties have been awarded after 40 games which is four more than the previous record of 18 from the 1990, 1998 and 2002 editions of the World Cup.
Out of the 22 penalties that have been awarded so far, 17 have been converted and 5 were either missed or saved. The culprits of the missed penalties feature both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
It will be interesting to see how many more penalties will be awarded by the end of the tournament in Russia.
#5 First manager to appear in four World Cups with the same team - Oscar Tabarez
Uruguay manager, Óscar Tabárez, is the oldest manager in Russia and he is also the first manager to appear in four World Cups with the same team!
The present World Cup is Tabárez’s fourth as the manager of Uruguay and his third in succession.
Tabárez has been in management since 1980 and his first stint with the Uruguay national team was way back in 1988. He helped the former World Champions qualify for the 1990 World Cup where they were eliminated by hosts Italy in the first knockout stage.
He left his post as Uruguay manager after the World Cup to manage at club level till 2002 and he took a break from management for four years after that.
During the same time, Uruguay failed to qualify for 1994, 1998 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. They qualified for the 2002 edition but were knocked out in the group stage without a win.
After failing to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Tabarez returned to manage his country and has been at the helm since. With him in charge, they have qualified for all three subsequent World Cups.
In 2010, Uruguay got their first World Cup win since 1990 - which was also incidentally under Tabarez. They also surprised a lot of people by finishing fourth in the South Africa World Cup. A year after their World Cup exploits, Uruguay won the Copa America.
In the ongoing World Cup, Uruguay have already progressed to the Round of 16 as group toppers with three wins in three games and zero goals conceded. They are no longer dark horses and can go deep into the tournament with their disciplined defence.
If Uruguay can win the World Cup, it will be a fitting farewell to a man who has done so much for Uruguayan football in recent years.
#4 Oldest player to feature in a World Cup game - 45 years and 161 days
Egypt’s World Cup campaign was disastrous as they finished bottom of their group without a point. However, one Egyptian player has etched his name in the record books before bowing out.
In their final group stage game against Saudi Arabia, Egypt started Essam El-Hadary in goal and in the process, he became the oldest player ever to play in and also to debut at the FIFA World Cup at the age of 45 years and 161 days.
He broke the record set by Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon four years ago in Brazil when he came on as a substitute against Japan in a group stage game at the age of 43 years and three days.
Essam El-Hadary marked his record-breaking debut with a brilliant penalty save. However, his side still ended up on the losing side.
#3 Youngest African goal scorer at a World Cup - 19 years and 263 days
Senegal’s Moussa Wague scored his team’s second goal in their group stage game against Japan and it was only the second goal by a teenager at the World Cup in Russia after Kylian Mbappe.
Wague, a right-back, was an unlikely scorer but the Eupen player earned a place in the record books with his first ever goal for Senegal.
Aged 19 years and 236 days, he became the youngest African player to score at a FIFA World Cup and took the place of Ghana’s Haminu Draman who scored at the age of 20 years and 82 days against USA at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Speaking after the game against Japan, Wague was ecstatic.
“I couldn’t even describe my goal to you, I got on the ball, I saw the goal, I hit it, and I scored. It still feels crazy. My first goal at the World Cup – I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better.”
#2 Longest start to a World Cup without a 0-0 draw - 37 games
During the 1954 FIFA World Cup, there wasn’t a single 0-0 in the entire tournament which had 26 games altogether. That record was broken and extended to 37 games at the current World Cup.
Before the final group stage fixtures of Group C, the one thing that the tournament guaranteed was goals but France and Denmark ensured that was no longer the case.
Going into their final group stage game, France already qualified for the next round and Denmark only needed a draw to ensure they reached the knockout stage irrespective of the result of the other game between Australia and Peru.
Both teams didn’t put in any serious effort to score and played the dullest game of the tournament so far and were rightfully booed by their fans at full-time. That was also the only goalless draw after 40 games.
#1 Oldest player to score a World Cup hat-trick - 33 years and 131 days
Cristiano Ronaldo is no stranger to rewriting records and he set another record during Portugal’s opening game of the FIFA World Cup against Spain.
His first goal of the game, from the spot, was the first penalty of the World Cup and it made him only the fourth player in history to score in four consecutive World Cups after Pele, Uwe Seeler, and Miroslav Klose.
Ronaldo went on to score two more goals during the game, including a free-kick in the dying minutes to complete a hat-trick and in the process doubled his World Cup tally.
The Portugal captain’s hat-trick made him the oldest player to score a World Cup hat-trick at the age of 33 years and 131 days and broke the record held by Rob Rensenbrink of Netherlands who at 30 years and 336 days, scored a hat-trick against Iran at the 1978 FIFA World Cup.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick also ensured that he reached several other notable milestones and records.