World Cup 2018 Wrap-Up: Five Firsts

The 2018 World Cup in Russia, which France won Sunday, was a thrilling roller-coaster ride with twists, turns, and upside-downs. Here are five things that hadn’t previously happened in the tournament.

Russia Hosting
The 21st World Cup was the first in Russia. The country has held several international sporting events over time. In 2014 alone, Russia hosted the Winter Olympics, world fencing championships, and world judo championships. The automatically-qualified host country and 31 other teams took the field in 11 cities at 12 venues during the World Cup.  

Panama’s First World Cup Goal
Though their team didn’t make it past the group stage, Panama fans were still ecstatic when they lost to England 6–1. Why? Because Felipe Baloy sent a ball past the English goalie, scoring Panama’s first ever World Cup goal. This was the country’s first time in the tournament, a huge milestone.  

South Korea Beating Germany
Several favorites fell early during this World Cup, but this may have been the most astounding match for soccer fans. Though neither Germany nor South Korea made it to the round of 16, it was a remarkable moment when South Korea beat Germany on June 27. A top-ranking German team losing 2–0 to the 57th-ranked team stunned the world.

Croatia Making the Final
Croatia, a country with a population less than half that of New York City, made it to the World Cup final for the first time. The final game against France was at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. After an impressive World Cup run that included wins over Russia and England, Croatia fell to France 4–2.  

Mario Mandzukic’s Own Goal in the Final
This first is one of the more unfortunate of the five, at least for Croatia. When France was awarded an early free kick after a foul, Mandzukic attempted to divert the kick away from the goal. The Croatian forward didn’t succeed and scored an own goal, the first goal of the match and the first own goal in World Cup final history.
 
With top contenders tumbling early, exciting games, and all these firsts, this quadrennial tournament was an insane ride.

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