The key trends from a record-breaking World Cup

Records have tumbled at this year’s World Cup, with set-pieces, late goals and own goals a theme from the outset.

The Video Assistant Referee system made its presence felt with 28 penalties awarded – of which 21 were scored – while there were many more from corners and free-kicks.

Penalties scored at World Cups since 1998
(PA Graphic)

The records for own goals and late goals – defined here as goals scored in the final five minutes, either in normal time or stoppage time – also fell by the end of the group stage and there has been no let-up since.

Here, FP takes a look at the key data points and how they have affected a dramatic tournament.


Harry Kane scores a penalty against Colombia
Harry Kane has been Johnny On The Spot (Adam Davy/PA)

  • Excluding shoot-outs, 16 different players have scored from spot-kicks at this World Cup.
  • England’s Harry Kane leads the way with three successful penalties, with Antoine Griezmann (France), Mile Jedinak (Australia) and Andreas Granqvist (Sweden) scoring two apiece. All bar Griezmann are their respective countries’ captains.
  • Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo, Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and Luka Modric of Croatia had the chance to join that list but have both scored and missed penalties. Argentina’s Lionel Messi was also among those denied from 12 yards.
  • The previous high marks saw 18 awarded in 1998 and 2002 and 17 scored, excluding shoot-outs, at France ’98.


Kieran Trippier, centre, puts England in front against Croatia
Kieran Trippier, centre, scores England’s ninth set-piece goal of the World Cup (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The high penalty total has contributed to a runaway record in terms of goals from set-pieces, with England among the main beneficiaries.

  • Of the 161 goals at the tournament, 70 have come from either free-kicks, corners, penalties or long throws – 43.5 per cent.
  • FIFA provides figures for set-piece goals as far back at the 2002 tournament, with the record in that time being 46 out of 147 (31.3 per cent) in 2006.
  • Kieran Trippier’s free-kick against Croatia was the ninth out of England’s 12 goals to come directly or indirectly from a set-piece.

Late goals

Late goals at World Cups since 1998
(PA Graphic)

  • There have been 29 goals scored in the final five minutes of games.
  • The previous record came at France 98, with 24 – not including Laurent Blanc’s ‘Golden Goal’ winner for France in extra-time against Paraguay.
  • Seventeen games have witnessed a late equaliser or winner. Colombia scored in stoppage time to force extra-time against England in the last 16 but were defeated in a penalty shoot-out. Costa Rica’s equaliser against Switzerland in Group F came after the Swiss had taken the lead in the 88th minute.
  • Brazil’s second against Costa Rica, from Neymar, was the latest goal excluding extra-time in a World Cup game since 1966.

Own goals

Own goals at World Cups since 1998
(PA Graphic)

  • The 11 own goals in this tournament almost doubles the previous record of six, also from 1998.

  • Aziz Bouhaddouz (Morocco) v Iran, June 15
  • Aziz Behich (Australia) v France, June 16
  • Oghenekaro Etebo (Nigeria) v Croatia, June 16
  • Thiago Cionek (Poland) v Senegal, June 19
  • Ahmed Fathi (Egypt) v Russia, June 19
  • Denis Cheryshev (Russia) v Uruguay, June 25
  • Edson Alvarez (Mexico) v Sweden, June 27
  • Yann Sommer (Switzerland) v Costa Rica, June 27
  • Yassine Meriah (Tunisia) v Panama, June 28
  • Sergei Ignashevich (Russia) v Spain, July 1
  • Fernandinho (Brazil) v Belgium, July 6

  • Sommer is only the third goalkeeper to score a World Cup own goal, following Spain’s Andoni Zubizarreta against Nigeria in 1998 and Noel Valladares of Honduras against France in 2014.
  • That goal also brought together all three trends – it came from a stoppage-time penalty, with Bryan Ruiz’s shot hitting the crossbar and bouncing in off the diving Sommer.


While VAR has seen more penalties awarded, the tallies of yellow and red cards for this tournament are unusually low.

  • Only four players have been sent off in the current tournament – the first time since the tournament’s expansion to 32 teams in 1998 that the total has even been in single figures.

  • Carlos Sanchez (Colombia) v Japan, June 19
  • Jerome Boateng (Germany) v Sweden, June 23
  • Igor Smolnikov (Russia) v Uruguay, June 25
  • Michael Lang (Switzerland) v Sweden, July 3

  • There have been 213 yellow cards (including second yellows) – 31 more than in Brazil four years ago but considerably fewer than any other 32-team World Cup. The record is 345 at the 2006 tournament.

Penalty shoot-outs

Ivan Rakitic, right, celebrates his winning penalty against Denmark
Ivan Rakitic, right, celebrates his winning penalty against Denmark (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

England won a World Cup penalty shoot-out for the first time as part of a record-equalling four in the tournament.

  • The 1990, 2006 and 2014 tournaments also saw four games decided on penalties, including the finals of the latter two.
  • Croatia became only the second team, following Argentina in 1990, to win two shoot-outs in the same tournament when they saw off Denmark in the last 16 and Russia in the quarter-finals. Ivan Rakitic scored the winner on both occasions, a first for any player.
  • There have now been 30 World Cup penalty shoot-outs since the format was introduced to the event in 1978.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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