Cristiano Ronaldo’s dramatic hat-trick against Spain on the opening weekend in Russia was the 51st in the history of the competition. Here’s a look at some of the most memorable trebles at the World Cup.
Geoff Hurst: England 4-2 West Germany – 1966 World Cup Final
What better way to start than with the ultimate. A World Cup final. Geoff Hurst’s 3 goals at Wembley on 30th July 1966 remains the only hat-trick to be scored in a final. Hurst wasn’t even in the team at the start of the tournament, with Jimmy Greaves playing up front with Roger Hunt in the group games against Uruguay, Mexico and France. But a gash to Greaves’ leg that required stitches gave Hurst the opportunity to start in the quarter-finals against Argentina. He duly took his chance, to score the only goal in a 1-0 win. A further 2-1 victory in the semi-final against Portugal persuaded manager Alf Ramsey to stick with his winning team, despite Greaves regaining his fitness in time for the final. England fell behind in the 12th minute to a Helmut Haller strike, but levelled in the 18th minute as Hurst nodded his first goal of the final from a Bobby Moore free kick. When Martin Peters scored in the 77th minute the World Cup seemed to be England’s, before a Wolfgang Weber goal in the final minute took the match into extra time. Step forward Sir Geoff Hurst. With 11 minutes of extra time gone, Alan Ball put in a cross and Hurst swivelled and shot from close range. The ball hit the underside of the cross bar, bounced down and was cleared. After Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst went to consult his Russian linesman Tofiq Bahramov (they shared no common language), the goal was given. It’s a goal that has remained controversial to this day as there is no conclusive evidence that the ball fully went over the line, although in real time it does look close. In the 120th minute Hurst was sent through by Moore and fired a left foot strike into the roof of the net to confirm England as World Champions. The final goal is one that Hurst openly admits he was just trying his to hit it as hard as he could, so if the ball went over the bar then time would be wasted retrieving it. It’s an unstoppable shot that ensured Geoff Hurst the perfect hat-trick too; left foot, right foot and header. Things have never been as good for England since.
Paolo Rossi: Italy 3-2 Brazil – 1982 Second Round Group Match
In the lead up to Spain 82′ Italian striker Paolo Rossi was serving a two year ban for his part in the infamous 1980 betting scandal (yes they did it back then too), known as Totonero. Rossi has always claimed to be innocent to this day, but his suspension ended just before the tournament and Italy reinstated him back in the squad. The Italians scraped through the first group stage with three consecutive draws against Poland, Peru and Cameroon. The second group stage; which was part of the format between 74-82, was where Italy burst into action. They were drawn in a group which on paper was difficult, against world champions Argentina and Brazil. A fantastic win against the Argies in their first game set up a winner takes all match against the Brazilians for a place in the semi-finals. This Brazil side are widely regarded as the best team not to win the World Cup, with their slick samba style boasting names such as Zico, Falcao and captain Socrates. Only five minutes in it was clear that the Azzuri had not read the script, as a close range header from Rossi made Brazil realise that they were in a football match. From then on it turned into one of the most entertaining matches of the whole tournament at the Sarrià Stadium; home ground of Espanyol. End to end stuff, with a fine finish from Socrates to equalise after 12 mins, only for Rossi to put Italy back in front in the 25th minute with a poacher’s goal. On 68 mins Falcao scored a 20 yard screamer to get another equaliser for the Brazilians, however just six minutes later Rossi connected from 6 yards out to complete his hat-trick and send Italy into the semi-finals. The striker scored two more in a 2-0 win over Poland in the semis, and opened the the scoring as Italy won the World Cup for the third time with a 3-1 over West Germany in the final. Paolo Rossi became the only player so far to win the World Cup, the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball all in the same tournament. Quite the turnaround for someone who was banned only two months before.
Gary Lineker: England 3-0 Poland – 1986 Group Match
Pressure? Bobby Robson knew what pressure was. After taking the reins in 1982 he failed to qualify for Euro 84 and was on brink of losing his job during Mexico 86′. After a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Portugal in the opener, England had a disastrous 0-0 draw with Morocco in their second match; Ray Wilkins was also sent off in this game for throwing the ball at the referee. Captain Bryan Robson was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a dislocated shoulder and the knives were out for the manager in the press. A must-win third Group Match against Poland beckoned and his main striker Gary Lineker was on the brink of being dropped after no goals in 7 international games. Lineker had scored 38 goals that season for Everton, so Bobby Robson stuck with his man and how right he was to do so. This match changed England’s fortunes in the competition and Lineker’s career forever. Straight from kick off in Monterrey, England were in attacking mode and opened the scoring in the 9th minute with Lineker latching on to a Gary Stevens cross from the right. With 14 mins on the clock Lineker doubled England’s lead, connecting to a pinpoint cross from Steve Hodge, this time from the left. The third goal came in the 34th minute when the Polish keeper dropped a corner right at the feet of England’s number 10, who duly despatched the ball into the roof of the net. Three goals in just 25 first half mins for Lineker, making it the second fastest hat-trick in World Cup history at the time; behind only Hungary’s László Kiss in 1982. England went on to beat Paraguay 3-0 in the second round with two more goals from Lineker and one from Peter Beardsley. The ‘Hand Of God’ and one of the greatest goals of all time from Diego Maradona beat England 2-1 in the quarter-finals, but a Gary Lineker consolation ensured he won the Golden Boot with 6 goals. Despite the elimination, the tournament was regarded as a success for the Three Lions. Bobby Robson kept his job and stayed in charge for 4 more years right through to Italia 90′. Things got better for Lineker too, as he bagged a dream move to Barcelona a couple of weeks later.
Tomáš Skuhravŷ: Czechoslovakia 4-1 Costa Rica – 1990 Second Round
If you haven’t heard of Tomáš Skuhravŷ, then you’re not alone. He was a solid striker in the late 80’s to early 90’s for the former Czechoslovakia, before the split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He plied his trade for Sparta Prague and Genoa in Italy’s Serie A, and was linked with a move to Leeds Utd at one stage. But he is more famously known for being the first player to score a hat-trick of headers in a World Cup at Italia 90′. Following the end of the Cold War, this was the last time Czechoslovakia competed in a major tournament. The Czech’s qualified for the second round comfortably, thrashing the USA 5-1 (which included Skuhravŷ’s first two goals of the tournament) in their opening game and beating a tough Austria side 1-0 in the second. A 2-0 defeat to hosts Italy meant that they qualified as runners up; a game which saw the famous Roberto Baggio goal where he dribbled from the half way line. They faced surprise package Costa Rica in the second round, who had finished above Sweden and Scotland in their group to qualify. The game in Bari is where the Czech’s ended Costa Rica’s romance at the World Cup. After 11 mins Skuhravŷ netted his first, with a delicate header back across the keeper after a cross from the right. Costa Rica equalised in the second half on 54 minutes through Ronald Gonazlez, but just 9 mins later the Czechs we’re back in front, this time Skuhravŷ heading home following a period of head tennis in the box. A superb free kick from Lubôs Kubik made it 3-1 on 75′, before Skuhravŷ put the game beyond doubt with a powerful header from a corner to complete his hat-trick. Czechoslovakia were unlucky to go out 1-0 in the quarter-finals to eventual winners West Germany. Tomáš Skuhravŷ was in the lead for the Golden Boot for the rest of the tournament with 5 goals, until Toto Schillaci scored in the semi-final and third placed play-off to overtake him with by one goal. But he will forever have the record of being the first player to score 3 headers in a World Cup match.
Oleg Salenko: Russia 6-1 Cameroon – 1994 Group Match
USA 94′ was the first major tournament that Russia took part in since the break up of the former Soviet Union, and despite initial disappointment they were involved in a historic match. On the 29th June, Russia played Cameroon in their final group game in what is known as a ‘dead’ rubber’ as both teams were already eliminated with nothing to play for. Nobody told Russian striker Oleg Salenko however, who scored 5 goals; a record for a World Cup match. After losing 2-0 to the eventual world champions Brazil in their opening game, Russia followed that with a 3-1 defeat to Sweden, ensuring the team would go no further in the competition. Salenko scored a consolation in that second defeat, which was a sign of things to come. In 41C heat at the Stanford Stadium, Russia came out with a point to prove and Salenko opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a calm finish after a mix up in the penalty area. The striker completed a hat-trick just before half time with two quick fire goals including a penalty. This wasn’t the same standard Cameroon team from Italia 90′, far from it. They looked leggy and unfit at times. One man was to come on at half time though and make his own history, Roger Milla. Within two minutes of the restart he became the oldest goal scorer in the history of the World Cup at 42. After his incredible performances four years earlier, this goal got the biggest cheer of the match. Russia weren’t in the mood for sentiments and Salenko secured his five goal haul in the 72nd and 75th minutes to carve his name into World Cup history. A sixth Russian goal from Radchenko rubbed salt into the wounds for Cameroon. Incredibly this was Oleg Salenko’s last ever game for Russia! A ridiculous fact. He scored just 6 goals for Russia in his international career, all coming in this World Cup. He won the Golden Boot and never played again. Wow.
Gabriel Batistuta: Argentina 5-0 Jamaica – 1998 Group Match
Love them or hate them, Argentina have a terrific record at the World Cup. Winners twice (1978 & 1986) and runners up three times (1930, 1990 & 2014), they are one of the most successful nations in the history of the competition. They’re all time record goalscorer in the tournament is Gabriel Batistuta. At his second World Cup in 1998, Batistuta made history by becoming the first player in history to score a hat-trick at two separate tournaments. After an opening 1-0 win against Japan, Argentina faced debutants Jamaica at the Parc des Princes, Paris. A brace from Ariel Ortega, put the South Americans into a comfortable 2-0 lead when Batistuta began to run riot in the Jamaican defence. A thunderbolt on 73′ from the edge of the box made it 3-0 and an identical finish from a more central position gave the Argies a fourth goal in the 78th min. The striker got his third goal in the 83rd minute from the penalty spot to make history, and in turn replaced Gary Lineker as the second fastest hat-trick ever in the competition. A 1-0 win over Croatia in the final group match ensured Argentina topped the table and faced England in a the second round who they beat on penalties after a 2-2 draw. The smiles were wiped off the faces of the Argentinians in the quarter-finals however, when one of the greatest World Cup goals ever from Dennis Bergkamp in the last minute sent them home. How unfortunate.