Listed: From Ronaldo to Richarlison - all the World Cup man of the match awards & how they're decided

Man of the Match World Cup 2022
GOAL takes a look at how FIFA decides who receives each game's man of the match, and delves into the players who have won the award.

While choosing the best player from a minimum of 22 is a decision often shrouded in debate, this winter's World Cup has seen a few arguable selections across the first round of group matches. Behind this change could be the tournament's new selection process for the award, which includes the heavy involvement of fans online.

Budweiser's Player of the Match trophy is awarded through a public vote on the FIFA+ website. The window opens between the 60th and 88th minute of each game, in which fans from across the globe can cast their thoughts for each match's star player. Users are limited to one vote per match, and must be of legal age to register in order to be able to participate.

There is no way of policing whether fans are watching the games in question, though, meaning several awards were handed to players that were arguably less deserving. Here is a look at all the man of the match winners across the tournament so far, and what each player did to deserve it.

  1. Enner Valencia (Qatar 0-2 Ecuador)
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    Enner Valencia (Qatar 0-2 Ecuador)

    Valencia announced himself in Qatar in some style. The Fernebahce forward thought he'd put Ecuador in front after just three minutes, only to see VAR chalk off his effort for offside. That didn't seem to deter him, though, cooly slotting home a penalty on 16 minutes before firing home a fine header on the half-hour mark. Despite hobbling off early with knee problems, there could be no complaints about Valencia winning this award, with Ecuador condemning Qatar to becoming the first ever host nation to loose its opening game at the World Cup.

  2. Bukayo Saka (England 6-2 Iran)
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    Bukayo Saka (England 6-2 Iran)

    Some questions were asked when Saka got the nod ahead of Phil Foden in England's opener, but the Arsenal starlet soon repaid Gareth Southgate's faith. A rifling volley to make it 2-0 was following by a delightful solo effort for England's fourth, with the Three Lions purring against Iran. Despite a whole host of potential candidates for the award, like Valencia there could be few argument's when Saka was given the man of the match trophy, as England cruised to a comfortable 6-2 opening day victory.

  3. Cody Gakpo (Senegal 0-2 Netherlands)
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    Cody Gakpo (Senegal 0-2 Netherlands)

    If you hadn't heard of him before, you had after this game. Heading into the dying embers of the match, the Dutch needed a goal against a threatening Senegal side, and Gakpo was on hand to provide it. An inviting cross from Frenkie De Jong was met by the 23-year-old before Eduoard Mendy could get his gloves on it, sending home an unorthodox header to put the Netherlands ahead. A fine goal to cap off a great performance from the youngster, as the Oranje got off to a winning start in Qatar.

  4. Gareth Bale (United States 1-1 Wales)
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    Gareth Bale (United States 1-1 Wales)

    Now we begin to enter dubious territory. Bale's 82nd-minute penalty - which was Wales' first World Cup goal since 1958 - definitely showed bottle and was vital in snatching a point against an impressive USMNT side, but to consider the 33-year-old the game's best player might be a stretch. Like his side, Bale was outclassed and outshone by the US for large parts of the match in Al Rayyan, although voters on the FIFA+ website didn't appear to feel that way.

  5. Mohammed Alowais (Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia)
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    Mohammed Alowais (Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia)

    Fans were treated to one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history when Saudi Arabia came from behind to beat Argentina in the second half of their group opener. A Lionel Messi penalty had put the favourites in front, before quick-fire strikes from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari shortly after the break turned the game on its head. In a match where the goals got the headlines, Alowais' performance in the Saudi goal can't be underestimated. The shot-stopper was on hand to produce some fine saves to keep his side in the game when it mattered most, in what was a historic victory for Saudi Arabia.

  6. Aissa Laidouni (Denmark 0-0 Tunisia)
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    Aissa Laidouni (Denmark 0-0 Tunisia)

    In a game with little to cheer about for either side, picking a man of the match was always going to be difficult. Denmark's Andreas Cornelius ruled himself out of contention after his horrific miss, while Tunisia 'keeper Ayemn Dahmen made a number of important stops in earning his side a draw. The award was eventually given to his teammate and Tunisia midfielder Aissa Laidouni, despite a less than inspiring display.

  7. Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico 0-0 Poland)

    Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico 0-0 Poland)

    The seventh man of the match of the tournament saw its second goalkeeper being given the award. Guillermo Ochoa is no stranger to an impressive World Cup display, and Mexico's opener against Poland was no different. While the veteran shot-stopper only made two saves across the 90 minutes, one of them in particular was significant. Ochoa denied Robert Lewandowski his first ever World Cup goal from the penalty spot, keeping the scores level and prompting El Tri's official Twitter page to jokingly compare him to Messi and Ronaldo.

  8. Kylian Mbappe (France 4-1 Australia)
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    Kylian Mbappe (France 4-1 Australia)

    France's defence of their world crown didn't get off to the best of starts when Craig Goodwin put Australia ahead after 9 minutes. However, Didier Deschamps side soon showed their quality thanks to an Mbappe-inspired comeback, with the PSG star scoring and assisting in a game that had many contenders for man of the match. Olivier Giroud equalled Thierry Henry's France goalscoring record and Antoine Griezmann impressed pulling the strings, although Mbappe's ability to drown out the noise and shine yet again on the world's biggest stage was worthy of the award.

  9. Luka Modric (Morocco 0-0 Croatia)

    Luka Modric (Morocco 0-0 Croatia)

    A third 'bore draw' of the tournament saw yet another difficult choice for man of the match. Despite coming close with a strike from the edge of the box early in the first half, Modric's performance was far from inspiring elsewhere. The same could be said for the game as a whole, though, with neither side really coming close across 90 minutes. Achraf Hakimi could consider himself unfortunate not to win the award, as his pace caused the Croatian defence a threat all afternoon, who nevertheless dealt with it resolutely.

  10. Shuichi Gonda (Germany 1-2 Japan)
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    Shuichi Gonda (Germany 1-2 Japan)

    The tournament's second major upset saw Japan come from behind to stun Germany thanks to goals from substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano. Coach Hajime Moriyasu got his changes just right, but it was a starter he largely had to thank for side grinding out the victory. Goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda made a staggering eight saves in the game, and managed to keep Germany's attack at bay throughout, even if they were misfiring on the day. While Doan and Asano got the headlines, Gonda was the true hero in Doha.

  11. Gavi (Spain 7-0 Costa Rica)
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    Gavi (Spain 7-0 Costa Rica)

    Spain and Gavi announced themselves with a demolition of Costa Rica in their group opener. The 18-year-old opened his World Cup account in some style, hitting a delightful volley in off the post for Spain's fifth of the game. The goal made him Spain's youngest ever World Cup scorer, and the youngest ever in the competition since Pele in 1958. Along with fellow youngster Pedri, Gavi dominated the Costa Rica midfield with his impeccable passing and dribbling ability, leaving either of the two in with a chance of earning the man of the match award.

  12. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium 1-0 Canada)

    Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium 1-0 Canada)

    Belgium scraped past Canada in their opening match, with star man Kevin De Bruyne largely misfiring and looking a shadow of his Manchester City self. Despite the sub-par performance, the midfielder received the most votes on the FIFA+ website, meaning he was unceremoniously awarded man of the match. None were more surprised than the player himself, though, who argued against receiving the prize and attributed it to his "name" rather than his display on the pitch. De Bruyne was also visibly frustrated in game too, clashing with defender Toby Alderweireld after Belgium scored the opening goal.

  13. Yann Sommer (Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon)
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    Yann Sommer (Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon)

    Sommer became the fourth goalkeeper to win the award in the first round of group stage matches, after his heroics helped Switzerland hold out for a narrow victory over Cameroon. The 33-year-old made five saves across the course of the game, as Cameroon threatened on multiple occasions in what was a tight affair in Al Wakrah. The clean sheet secured the three points in an unattractive victory for the Swiss, with Sommer playing a key part in that process.

  14. Federico Valverde (Uruguay 0-0 South Korea)

    Federico Valverde (Uruguay 0-0 South Korea)

    Make that four goalless draws in 14 opening group stage matches. An uninspiring affair between Uruguay and South Korea didn't produce any goals, but Valverde's moments of individual brilliance suggested Uruguay maybe should have nicked it. His shot from range was well saved by Seung-gyu Kim, although Diego Godin's header that rattled the woodwork was probably Uruguay's best chance of the match. Godin was solid throughout but Valverde's occasional moment of magic made him a worthy man of the match winner.

  15. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal 3-2 Ghana)
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    Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal 3-2 Ghana)

    Playing in his first game since being forcibly removed from Manchester United, Ronaldo was able to drown out the noise and put in a captain's performance against Ghana, scoring in the fifth World Cup of his career and becoming the oldest to score for Portugal at a major tournament. While that was undoubtedly the game's dominant narrative, his man of the match award largely ignores the performance put in by former teammate Bruno Fernandes. The United midfielder assisted both Joao Felix and Rafael Leao in their goals, and can count himself unlucky he didn't win the award.

  16. Richarlison (Brazil 2-0 Serbia)
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    Richarlison (Brazil 2-0 Serbia)

    The last man of the match across the group stage openers was awarded to Richarlison, and few could have many complaints about that. Playing in his first ever World Cup and included in the starting line up despite his recent absence through injury, Richarlison repaid coach Tite with a stunning display in Lusail. The forward's first goal showed striker's instincts, while the second was a moment of magic, flicking the ball up and striking an acrobatic volley to put Brazil in control. Talk about announcing yourself on the big stage.

  17. Mehdi Taremi (Wales 0-2 Iran)
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    Mehdi Taremi (Wales 0-2 Iran)

    His two goals against England may have been a mere consolation, but Taremi's contributions to Iran's second match against Wales were much more telling. With both sides needing nothing less than three points, the match was an end-to-end affair, and Taremi dominated the offensive side of it. His assist to Ramin Rezaeian for Iran's second killed the game off in the dying embers, after Roozbeh Cheshmi had put them ahead eight minutes into stoppage time.

  18. Famara Diedhiou (Qatar 1-3 Senegal)
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    Famara Diedhiou (Qatar 1-3 Senegal)

    Senegal condemned Qatar to their second defeat of the tournament after their attack dazzled in the Al-Thumama Stadium. Diedhiou made it two just after half time and was a menace all afternoon for the hosts, and his dominant offensive display was enough to earn himself man of the match. The trophy could also have been given to strike partner Boulaye Dia, who opened the scoring for the Lions of Teranga, with Ismaile Sarr also impressing on the day.

  19. Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador)
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    Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador)

    Despite Cody Gakpo and Enner Valencia getting on the scoresheet for their second successive matches, the man of the match was eventually awarded to Frenkie De Jong. The Barca man was pulling the strings in the middle of the park, completing an impressive 93% pass accuracy against his Ecuadorian opponents. While either Gakpo or Valencia would seem the obvious choice to win their second MOTM of the tournament, the role played by De Jong wasn't underestimated by fans voting on the FIFA+ website.

  20. Christian Pulisic (England 0-0 USA)
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    Christian Pulisic (England 0-0 USA)

    There was little excitement at the Al Bayt Stadium when England and USMNT played out a drab 0-0, although the occasional moment of brilliance came from the Americans. Pulisic probably did enough on the night to warrant it, having come close with a rifling shot that hit the crossbar. However, the midfield trio of Yunus Musah, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie were pivotal aspects in Gregg Berhalter's side, meaning it was a surprise not to see one of them handed the award after the 90 minutes.

  21. Mitchell Duke (Tunisia 0-1 Australia)
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    Mitchell Duke (Tunisia 0-1 Australia)

    Scoring your first goal at a World Cup is probably worthy of man of the match, but even more so if it helps give your side their first World Cup victory in over 12 years. That was the case when Australia defeated Tunisia thanks to Duke's glancing header, which he scored in some style. Turning instinctively to re-direct a deflected cross, Duke flicked on a beautiful glancing header into the far corner of Aymen Dahmen's goal. A strike worthy of winning any match, and certainly of winning the man of the match award.

  22. Robert Lewandowski (Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia)
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    Robert Lewandowski (Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia)

    While Poland may have snatched a victory against a largely dominant Saudi Arabia in the Education City Stadium, few could argue against Lewandowski winning man of the match. Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny would be the only other contender, thanks to his stunning double save to deny Salem Al-Dawsari and Mohammed Al-Burayk from the former's penalty, but scoring your first EVER World Cup goal is worthy of any award. The Barca forward also registered an assist for Piotr Zielinski for Poland's first, in a win that saw his side go top of Group C.

  23. Kylian Mbappe (France 2-1 Denmark)
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    Kylian Mbappe (France 2-1 Denmark)

    The first player to win the award twice in Qatar, Mbappe sent the holders through to the next round thanks to a second-half brace against Denmark. His first strike saw the PSG star exchange a smart one-two with Theo Hernandez on the left, while the second was characterised by some instinctive forward movement to get on the end of an inviting Antoine Griezmann cross. Griezmann may feel aggrieved to have missed out again on the individual prize, but a match-winning brace to go joint-top scorer is as fair a reason as any to be crowned man of the match.

  24. Lionel Messi (Argentina 2-0 Mexico)
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    Lionel Messi (Argentina 2-0 Mexico)

    Cometh the hour, cometh the man. When Argentina needed him most, Messi stepped up to secure a vital victory for his side's chances of last 16 qualification. With just over 60 minutes on the clock and the game heading for another goalless draw, the boy from Rosario rifled a long range screamer into the far corner of Guillermo Ochoa's goal. The PSG star also provided an assist for Argentina's second, although that goal was all about Enzo Fernandez's individual brilliance. A deserved win and a deserved man of the match award in what was a joyous night for the Albiceleste.

  25. Keysher Fuller (Japan 0-1 Costa Rica)
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    Keysher Fuller (Japan 0-1 Costa Rica)

    Had Costa Rica not snatched a victory in the 81st minute, this man of the match award could have been very different. As it happened, Fuller's late goal was enough to give his side all three points in what was Costa Rica's first shot on target all tournament. Japan, on the other hand, will be rueing their missed chances, which was thanks in part to the work of Keylor Navas. Having only produced three saves, though, Fuller's goal was arguably enough to warrant his man of the match award, as Costa Rica shocked the world in Ar-Rayyan.

  26. Hakim Ziyech (Belgium 0-2 Morocco)
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    Hakim Ziyech (Belgium 0-2 Morocco)

    In a second shock on the same day, Belgium fell to defeat to Morocco in what was a deserving win for the Atlas Lions. Ziyech thought he had got himself on the scoresheet late in the first half, with a quick free-kick that caught out Thibault Courtois in the Belgium goal. While that may have been ruled out for offside on Roman Saiss, the Chelsea man's contributions cannot be discounted, not least for the inspiration his set play provided for Abdelhamid Sabiri's opener. The result blew Group F wide open, which was thanks in part to Ziyech's display.

  27. Andrej Kramaric (Croatia 4-1 Canada)

    Andrej Kramaric (Croatia 4-1 Canada)

    Croatia had to come from behind to beat Canada after seeing Alphonso Davies score the fastest goal of the tournament so far on 67 seconds. Kramaric thought he had levelled when he netted after being played in by Ivan Perisic but saw his effort ruled out for offside. However, the 31-year-old was not to be denied and bagged a brace to dump Canada out of the tournament and send Croatia top of Group F ahead of the final round of games.

  28. Alvaro Morata (Spain 1-1 Germany)
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    Alvaro Morata (Spain 1-1 Germany)

    Alvaro Morata offered another reminder of his talents by making an instant impact after coming off the bench for Spain against Germany. The Atletico Madrid striker needed just eight minutes to break the deadlock after replacing Ferran Torres early in the second half. Morata produced an instinctive finish after a good pass from Dani Olmo to make it 1-0 to La Roja. Morata now has two goals in two games for Spain at World Cup 2022 and is repaying the faith shown in him by coach Luis Enrique.

  29. Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon 3-3 Serbia)
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    Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon 3-3 Serbia)

    Vincent Aboubakar was the architect of a fantastic comeback for Cameroon that saw his side earn a vital point in their second game of the competition. The 30-year-old came off the bench shortly after Serbia scored to go 3-1 up in the second half of Monday's clash. The striker needed just eight minutes to make an impact as he sent a wonderful chip into the net to pull one back for his team. Just three minutes later, he helped Cameroon complete the comeback when he sent a perfect pass across to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for a simple finish to make it 3-3.

  30. Mohammed Kudus (Ghana 3-2 South Korea)
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    Mohammed Kudus (Ghana 3-2 South Korea)

    Mohammed Kudus proved decisive as Ghana picked up their first win of the competition by beating South Korea. Ten minutes after Mohammed Salisu opened the scoring, the Ajax star got his head onto a well placed diagonal cross from Jordan Ayew and headed beyond Kim Seung-gyu. South Korea fought their way back into the game with two quickfire goals but Kudus made sure Ghana did not collapse as he was there at the back post to meet a low cross from Inaki Williams and slot hom to secure the three points.

  31. Casemiro (Brazil 1-0 Switzerland)
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    Casemiro (Brazil 1-0 Switzerland)

    Despite the tournament favourites dominating for large parts of the match and even seeing a Vinicius Junior strike chalked off for offside, Brazil's game against Serbia was entering a stalemate going into the last ten minutes. Enter Casemiro, who linked up beautifully with Real Madrid duo Vinicius and Rodygo before the latter flicked a ball into his path, with the United midfielder crashing a half-volley home into the far corner of Yann Sommer's goal. His strike helped Brazil snatch all three points and become just the second team to secure qualification to the last 16.

  32. Bruno Fernandes (Portugal 2-0 Uruguay)

    Bruno Fernandes (Portugal 2-0 Uruguay)

    A discrepancy over whether or not Cristiano Ronaldo managed to get the very edge of his quiff onto an exquisite, lofted ball from Fernandes shouldn't detract from the masterful performance that Manchester United's chief creator put in against Uruguay. While Fernandes can often leave a lot to be desire for Portugal, particularly when trying to play with Ronaldo, he ran the show tonight, particularly in helping his nation get over the line in the second half. His cross-turned-goal was put into the perfect area and the run that earned him a penalty was equally as brilliant. Should it have been given? Probably not. Does Bruno care? Not at all. Three points, two brilliant goals and a spot in the knockout stages. Job done.

  33. Davy Klaassen (Qatar 0-2 Netherlands)
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    Davy Klaassen (Qatar 0-2 Netherlands)

    Netherlands midfielder Davy Klaassen got the assist for his side's first goal as they beat Qatar in the crucial group stage match. The Ajax man nipped a short pass through to Cody Gakpo before the attacker drove forward and fired in from the edge of the box. Klaassen, 29, linked up well with the attackers around him as the likes of Memphis Depay and Gakpo tried to build on their lead. Klaassen has been effective so far in the tournament, having scored in the 2-0 win against Senegal and also set up his side's only goal as they drew with Ecuador.

  34. Kalidou Koulibaly (Ecuador 1-2 Senegal)

    Kalidou Koulibaly (Ecuador 1-2 Senegal)

    Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly made a vital intervention to ensure his side progressed to the last-16 as they beat Ecuador 2-1 in the final group stage match. Just three minutes after Ecuador scored to make it 1-1, the Chelsea centre-back smashed home from inside the box with a fine finish. The 31-year-old has stood up as his team's leader in the absence of star attacker Sadio Mane.

  35. Marcus Rashford (Wales 0-3 England)

    Marcus Rashford (Wales 0-3 England)

    Man Utd striker Marcus Rashford bagged a brace as England swept Wales aside and finished top of Group B with a comfortable victory. Rashford's first goal was a brilliant free-kick and he then followed that up with the team's third goal after Phil Foden had made it 2-0. It was a superb performance from the striker and a memorable one too as he netted England's 100th World Cup goal on a poignant night for Rashford. The England star revealed after the game that he'd dedicated his first goal to a friend he has lost recently.

  36. Christian Pulisic (Iran 0-1 USA)
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    Christian Pulisic (Iran 0-1 USA)

    Captain America Christian Pulisic sent the USMNT into the last 16 of the World Cup with the only goal of the game against Iran. Pulisic had to put his body on the line to break the deadlock and picked up an injury in the process that forced him off at half-time. Indeed the Chelsea forward ended up in hospital for scans on an abdominal injury but his goal was enough to clinch all three points and second place in Group B.

  37. Mathew Leckie (Australia 1-0 Denmark)

    Mathew Leckie (Australia 1-0 Denmark)

    Mathew Leckie fired Australia past Denmark and into the last 16 of the World Cup for just the second time in their history with a brilliant effort. The Danes were underdone when Australia launched a quick break and Leckie was sent through on goal by Riley McGree. The forward still had a fair bit to do but made it look easy. Leckie twisted Joakim Mæhle inside out before firing a low shot past a diving Kasper Schmeichel and into the far corner.

  38.  Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia 1-0 France)
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    Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia 1-0 France)

    Tunisia didn't make it through to the last 16 of the World Cup but did sign off with a shock 1-0 win over France and their first goal of the tournament. Wahbi Khazri was the man to deliver the goal and it was certainly one that was worth waiting for. The midfielder picked up possession just outside the centre circle in the French half, steamed forwards, evaded two French players and then had the presence of mind to poke the ball past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.

  39. Luis Chavez (Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico)
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    Luis Chavez (Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico)

    Mexico beat Saudi Arabia but the win was not enough to seal a place in the last 16. However, the match was lit up by Luis Chavez's incredible free-kick which is a contender for the goal of the tournament award. Chavez curled a superb free-kick from fully 30 yards into the top corner, sparking wild celebrations among the Mexico players and staff. It's only the second free-kick goal of the tournament so far but it will live long in the memory.

  40.  Alexis Mac Allister (Poland 0-2 Argentina)
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    Alexis Mac Allister (Poland 0-2 Argentina)

    Argentina topped Group C after beating Poland 2-0 thanks to second half goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez. Lionel Messi missed a first-half penalty and Argentina were making hard work of it unti Mac Allister struck. The Brighton midfielder swept home a cross by Nahuel Molina to break the deadlock and net his first ever goal for Argentina. It was a crucial moment in the match and allowed Argentina to go on and see the win out comfortably.

  41. Luka Modric (Croatia 0-0 Belgium)

    Luka Modric (Croatia 0-0 Belgium)

    It was far from a memorable encounter in the goalless stalemate between Croatia and Belgium, but Luka Modric was still able to add a stunning level of finesse, as he so often does.

    The Real Madrid midfielder went about his work seamlessly, pulling the strings in the middle of the park to keep Belgium at arm's length. Inside the first minute of the game, he was inches away from providing an insatiable outside of the boot assist, but Ivan Perisic fired wide.

    From then on, with the objective being to secure a place in the knockout stages, Modric toned it down, drawing on all of his match-winning experience to quietly boss proceedings.

    This guy is simply immortal, isn't he? Absolutely dynamite.

  42. Achraf Hakimi (Canada 1-2 Morocco)

    Achraf Hakimi (Canada 1-2 Morocco)

    Morocco only had qualification for the knockout stages on their mind in matchday three of Group F, so to come away having topped the table at full-time is a welcome bonus.

    Not only that, it's a testament to their players' performances. One stood out, though, and that was Hakimi, who was instrumental against Canada. The Paris Saint-Germain wing-back dominated the right flank, bombing forward to deliver scintillating crosses, but also getting back in and retaining shape when his team needed him most.

  43. Ao Tanaka (Japan 2-1 Spain)

    Ao Tanaka (Japan 2-1 Spain)

    Before a ball was kicked at the 2022 World Cup, Group E had been placed into the ‘Group of Death’ category. That was mainly due to the presence of former champions Spain and Germany, but Japan were never going to merely make up the numbers. They are now into the last-16 as winners of their section, with the impressive scalps of German and Spanish opposition claimed along the way. A stunning, and somewhat controversial, 2-1 victory over La Roja saw them book a place in the knockout stages, with Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder Tanaka becoming a national hero as he netted what proved to be a match-winning effort six minutes into the second half.

  44. Kai Havertz (Costa Rica 2-4 Germany)
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    Kai Havertz (Costa Rica 2-4 Germany)

    Germany entered a final outing of the group stage knowing that they would need favours from elsewhere in order to prolong their adventure in Qatar. An early goal for Spain, alongside one from Serge Gnabry, suggested that there would be no upsets in Group E. Japan, though, ended up stunning La Roja 2-1, meaning that a 4-2 victory over Costa Rica counted for nothing in Germany’s bid to reach the last-16. Chelsea forward Kai Havertz did bag a brace for Die Mannschaft, but he cut a frustrated figure when collecting his Player of the Match award as four-time World Cup winners suffered the ignominy of slipping out at the group stage in back-to-back global gatherings.

  45. Hwang Hee-chan (South Korea 2-1 Portugal)
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    Hwang Hee-chan (South Korea 2-1 Portugal)

    What a game from South Korea and what a moment for Hwang Hee-chan. Having started the day third of Group H and even momentarily going bottom during the match, Paulo Bentos' side came from behind against Portugal to celebrate a memorable 2-1 victory courtesy of Hwang's 91st minute strike. Korea broke from the corner with Heung-min Son carrying the ball the near-length of the pitch before threading a pass through to the Wolves forward who finished expertly past Diogo Costa. A goal of that magnitude made Hwang a worthy man of the match winner, as South Korea progressed to only their third ever World Cup last-16 match.

  46. Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Ghana 0-2 Uruguay)
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    Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Ghana 0-2 Uruguay)

    Much like Uruguay's result in the Al-Janoub stadium, Giorgian De Arrascaeta's man of the match award will be nothing less than a consolation after the Albiceleste's bitterly disappointing World Cup exit. The Flamengo man started his first match of the tournament amid calls for Diego Alonso to include him, and he soon repaid his manager's faith with a brace in six first-half minutes. The 28-year-old's second was of particular note, a fine finish on the end of a Luis Suarez assist that capped off an impressive team move. Despite De Arrascaeta's goals giving Uruguay a 2-0 win on the day, a late South Korea winner saw them beat Portugal 2-1 and progress to the last 16 on goals scored.

  47. Devis Epassy (Cameroon 1-0 Brazil)
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    Devis Epassy (Cameroon 1-0 Brazil)

    In a game that eventually meant very little for Cameroon's last 16 qualification chances, goalkeeper Devis Epassy produced heroics on a number of occasions to keep his side in the game. Vincent Aboubakar's 92nd-minute winner and ensuing second yellow card for taking off his shirt in celebration will likely get all the attention, but Epassy's role can't be downplayed. The Indomitable Lions' shot stopper was on hand to produce seven saves in total as his side snatched a memorable victory against tournament favourites Brazil. Unfortunately for Cameroon, Serbia couldn't do them a favour against Switzerland in the other match in Group G, meaning they finished third and were eliminated from the tournament.

  48. Granit Xhaka (Serbia 2-3 Switzerland)
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    Granit Xhaka (Serbia 2-3 Switzerland)

    The final Group G game between Serbia and Switzerland had it all - well-worked team goals, crunching tackles, off-the-pitch skirmishes. Granit Xhaka couldn't resist getting in on the action himself, constantly winding up opponents and earning himself a yellow card for his troubles. Xhaka formed part of a formidable midfield pairing alongside Remo Freuler - who scored Switzerland's decisive goal - although it was the front men who stole the show in Doha. Xherdan Shaqiri equalled a record held by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo with his opening strike, while the combination of Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandr Mitrovic proved dangerous up top for Serbia. Switzerland were able to quell the threat, though, as they secured last 16 qualification alongside Xhaka, who takes home a questionable man of the match award.

  49. Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands 3-1 USMNT)
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    Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands 3-1 USMNT)

    The tournament's first last 16 matchup was all about Louis van Gaal's Netherlands clicking into place, and Denzel Dumfries formed a huge part of that. The Inter wing-back was a constant threat and had a hand in all three of the Oranje's goals on the day. Two pinpoint crosses in the first half set up Memphis Depay and Daley Blind, respectively, before Blind returned the favour late on in the second half to set up Dumfries and seal the game at 3-1. A fine team performance saw the Netherlands become the first side through to the quarter-finals, although Dumfries was undoubtedly their star man.

  50. Lionel Messi (Argentina 2-1 Australia)
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    Lionel Messi (Argentina 2-1 Australia)

    Lionel Messi played in the 1,000th game of his career against Australia and provided a performance worthy of the occasion. The boy from Rosario scored his first ever World Cup knockout goal as he led the Albiceleste to victory against a resolute Australia side, who could have taken the game to extra-time were it not for goalkeeping heroics from Emi Martinez. The real hero on the night, though, came at the other end of the pitch. Messi's pinpoint passes and mazy runs helped take Argentina to yet another World Cup quarter-final, as the 35-year-old's display earned him his second man of the match award of the tournament.

  51. Kylian Mbappe (France 3-1 Poland)
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    Kylian Mbappe (France 3-1 Poland)

    Kylian Mbappe broke Pele's record (seven) to become the highest-scoring player under the age of 24 at a World Cup, with nine strikes to his name now, as he fired France to victory against Poland. The PSG star netted twice for Les Blues – showing great power and precision with each finish – after Oliver Giroud opened the scoring with a goal that puts him top of the all-time goalscoring charts for France. Mbappe is now leading the race for the Golden Boot at the World Cup with five goals to his name, which is two more than anyone else. Unsurprisingly, he was good value for his man-of-the-match accolade.

  52. Harry Kane (England 3-0 Senegal)
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    Harry Kane (England 3-0 Senegal)

    Harry Kane scored his first goal of the 2022 World Cup as England blew Senegal away to advance into the quarter-final stage of the competition. The Tottenham man showed great composure to double the Three Lions' lead when put through on goal by Phil Foden. Jordan Henderson had put England ahead before Bukayo Saka put the cherry on top with a third. Kane's effort now means he is his nation's all-time leading scorer at major tournaments, with 11 goals, one more than Gary Lineker. France await England in the next round.

  53. Dominik Livakovic (Japan 1-1 Croatia (pens 1-3))
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    Dominik Livakovic (Japan 1-1 Croatia (pens 1-3))

    Another knockout game for Croatia, another win after extra time. The Croats are no strangers to winning a penalty shoot-out at a major tournament, although goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was only on the bench for their spot-kick victory over Russia back in 2018. The lack of experience didn't appear to effect the Dinamo Zagreb shot stopper, though, as he proceeded to save three of Japan's four penalties in the shoot-out, denying Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida before Mario Pasalic scored the decisive kick. While Japan's efforts were far from unstoppable, Livakovic made himself big and got down well to make himself the hero, as Croatia reached their second successive World Cup quarter-final.

  54. Neymar (Brazil 4-1 South Korea)

    Neymar (Brazil 4-1 South Korea)

    In the words of Eric Bischoff, he's back and better than ever. It took Neymar just 13 minutes to get himself on the scoresheet in a 4-1 mauling of South Korea, which also marked his return from injury. Neymar looked like he hadn't skipped a beat and danced around the pitch - sometimes quite literally - with all the elegance he could muster up, much to the relief of those sweating about the condition of his ankle. His return was the icing on the cake of a brilliant Brazil performance, and he looked absolutely immense. Neymar isn't messing around - he's ready to own these World Cup knockout stages.

  55. Yassine Bounou (Morocco 0-0 Spain (pens 3-0))
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    Yassine Bounou (Morocco 0-0 Spain (pens 3-0))

    Not all heroes wear capes - some wear gloves and short sleeves. 31-year-old 'Bono' plays his football in the Spanish top flight and sent La Roja packing with an all-time performance between the sticks. His game isn't based around being exceptional in possession of the ball, but what does that matter when you've conceded just once in four World Cup games and saved three penalties in a shootout against the 2010 world champions? Bounou put in an immense display, getting down well in the shootout having done his homework, which followed on from a clean 120 minutes that also deserves its flowers.

  56. Gonçalo Ramos (Portugal 6-1 Switzerland)
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    Gonçalo Ramos (Portugal 6-1 Switzerland)

    First start, replacing Cristiano Ronaldo in the lineup, with the task of firing your country to a World Cup quarter-final. How's your nerve, kid? Exceptional, it appears. It took Gonçalo Ramos just 17 minutes to find his first goal, unleashing a venomous strike beyond Yann Sommer and into the roof of the net. From that point, an all-time performance felt inevitable. The Benfica starlet was the icing on the cake of a free-flowing Portugal display, adding another two to his haul in the second half to secure a hat-trick on his first Portugal start. Cristiano who?

  57. Dominik Livakovic (Croatia 1-1 Brazil (pens 4-2))

    Dominik Livakovic (Croatia 1-1 Brazil (pens 4-2))

    Wow. After picking up the man of the match award for his penalty shoot-out heroics in the round against Japan, Dominik Livakovic did it again. In fact, no, that's not quite fair. Actually, he improved upon his last display. Indeed, not only did he crucially save Rodrygo's penalty for Brazil (before Marquinhos lost his nerve and hit the post), Livakovic also became the first goalkeeper to make 11 saves in a single World Cup match since 2014. What a performance.

  58. Lionel Messi (Netherlands 2-2 Argentina (pens 2-4)
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    Lionel Messi (Netherlands 2-2 Argentina (pens 2-4)

    Who else? Even by his own impossibly high standards, Messi came to play against the Netherlands. He lit up the second quarter-final with an absurd no-look pass to help open the scoring, and then showed nerves of steel to roll home a penalty. Louis van Gaal's side hit back, of course, but Messi came through with the goods again in the shootout, converting from 12 yards to put his country through to the final four.

  59. Yassine Bounou (Morocco 1-0 Portugal)

    Yassine Bounou (Morocco 1-0 Portugal)

    Youssef En-Nesyri was the man who got the decisive goal as Morocco beat Portugal to become the first African side to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. However, goalkeeper Bono was just as vital at the other end of the pitch. Once again he was the safest pair of hands as he kept a fourth clean sheet of the tournament. Bono pulled off three important saves to deny Portugal and ensure his side stayed ahead. He has conceded just one goal in the competition so far and that was an own goal against Canada. Making his 50th appearance for Morocco, became the first African goalkeeper to record three clean sheets in a single edition of the World Cup.

  60. Olivier Giroud (England 1-2 France)

    Olivier Giroud (England 1-2 France)

    France's all-time top scorer Olivier Giroud popped up at the vital moment in the quarter-final tie against England. Les Bleus had a hard time throughout the second half and struggled to get their forward involved at times, but Giroud was ready when the breakthrough came and got there first to Antoine Griezmann's cross, knocking it beyond Jordan Pickford in what turned out to be the winning goal.

  61. Lionel Messi (Argentina 3-0 Croatia)
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    Lionel Messi (Argentina 3-0 Croatia)

    All eyes were on the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner heading into Qatar, with the storylines set. Last dance this, Messi vs Ronaldo that, you know the ones. And after opening day defeat to Saudi Arabia where Messi looked as human as ever and Argentina looked anything but a team who had credentials to win the lot, they bounced back tremendously.

    As the World Cup progressed, Messi looked more and more menacing and, as such, more and more immortal. The 35-year-old put in another all-time display to dump Croatia out in the semi-final and book his own place in the final. Opening the scoring from the penalty spot, Messi then left Josko Gvardiol for dead before assisting Julian Alvarez for his side's third.

  62. Antoine Griezmann (France 2-0 Morocco)
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    Antoine Griezmann (France 2-0 Morocco)

    We need to talk about this Antoine Griezmann resurgence. Another exceptional performance from box to box has helped France to the final of the World Cup. The Atletico Madrid man shot to prominence at Euro 2016 as a ruthless goal getter, but has played the role of chief creator for Didier Deschamps in Qatar, and also added a vital layer of industry to France's midfield as Morocco rallied.

    The 31-year-old has always been polarising and his stagnation in recent years has been undeniable. However, another terrific performance in Qatar, this time in the semi-final, has kept the wheels turning on the perfect redemption story. Griezmann is chasing down the Player of the Tournament award.

  63. Josko Gvardiol (Morocco 1-2 Croatia)
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    Josko Gvardiol (Morocco 1-2 Croatia)

    The centre-back looked excellent in defence all the way through the tournament as he helped Croatia through to the semi-finals. He stood out more in attack in the third-place playoff, however, as his powerful header saw Croatia take the lead early on against Morocco. Throughout the match he was sound on the ball as he made neat passes and worked hard to win the ball back against the African history makers.

  64. Lionel Messi (Argentina 3-3 France (pens 4-2)
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    Lionel Messi (Argentina 3-3 France (pens 4-2)

    The GOAT debate may be over after Argentina’s talismanic captain got his hands on the ultimate prize, which had eluded him for so long. Messi was once again able to deliver when it mattered most for his country, with two goals recorded across 120 minutes of thrilling action against France. One of those efforts came from the spot, with Messi holding his nerve again in a shootout as the Albiceleste prevailed on penalties.

    There had been suggestions before the game that Messi was preparing to head off into international retirement, with another Player of the Match award and a history-making second World Cup Golden Ball added to his remarkable roll of honour, but the 35-year-old has vowed to continue “playing as a champion”.