Muslera, De Gea & the worst World Cup goalkeeping blunders

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The World Cup has thrown up its share of embarrassing moments for the men between the posts. Here, Goal takes a look at some of the best, or worst!

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    Barbosa | Brazil 1-2 Uruguay | 1950 Final

    “Everywhere has its irremediable national catastrophe, something like a Hiroshima. Our catastrophe, our Hiroshima, was the defeat by Uruguay in 1950,” wrote renowned Brazilian author Nelson Rodrigues.

    Playing in their own country, Brazil needed just to draw their final match of the final group stage to win the 1950 World Cup. Entertaining Uruguay, who had to win to steal the trophy from their South American rivals, the whole of Brazil were already in celebratory mood and expected nothing less than a comfortable victory at the Maracana.

    Even the press took victory for granted, with O Mundo printing a picture of the squad with the words: ‘These are the world champions’. Brazil did start well and went ahead when Friaca scored on 46 minutes. But midway through the second half future Milan legend Juan Schiaffino equalised and what followed has since gone down in football history.

    As it stood, Brazil were still set to be world champions for the first time until disaster struck and Urugauy scored again in the 79th minute. Alcides Ghiggia dribbled past Bigode before catching Barbosa out at his near post, the goalkeeper having anticipated a cross into the middle. Uruguay were World Cup winners, and the whole country of Brazil went into mourning over what became known as the Maracanazo (‘the Maracana blow’). 

    Goalkeeper Barbosa became the main scapegoat for their country’s failings and was never forgiven up until his passing in 2000. “Under Brazilian law the maximum sentence is 30 years. But my imprisonment has been for 50,” he said before he passed away. Seven years earlier Barbosa had attempted to visit the Brazilian squad in training, only to be turned away for fear that he was a ‘jinx’.

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    Nery Pumpido | Argentina 0-1 Cameroon | 1990 Group Stages

    The 1990 World Cup can only be described as a nightmare for Argentina's No.1 Nery Pumpido. In the tournament opener against outsiders Cameroon, the World Cup holders fell to a shock 1-0 defeat in Milan.

    Francois Omam-Biyik towered above his man to head towards goal, but would not have expected his weak and central effort to go in. Pumpido somehow let the ball squirm through and under him as the Africans triumphed.

    To make matters worse, in the next game against USSR, Pumpido broke his leg. His replacement Sergio Goycochea would go on to become a national hero after his miracles in penalty shootout wins over Yugoslavia and hosts Italy.

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    Rene Higuita | Colombia 1-2 Cameroon | 1990 Second Round

    As eccentric goalkeepers go, Rene Higuita surely goes down as the most eccentric World Cup goalkeeper of all time. The Colombian became infamous during Italia ’90 for coming off his line and taking risks.

    Higuita would sweep up miles outside his area, dribble past attackers, and regularly attempt nutmegs and flicks. During the second-round clash with Cameroon, this would prove to be his and Colombia’s downfall.

    Deep into extra time, with the score still goalless, Higuita attempted to turn past the legendary Roger Milla close to the halfway line. The 38-year-old tackled him, though, and then dispatched the ball into an open net. Cameroon progressed to the next round, and Higuita was the villain.

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    Pat Bonner | Republic of Ireland 0-2 Netherlands | 1994 Second Round

    Ireland had scraped through from that tournament's ‘Group of Death’ mainly thanks to their now famous opening victory over Arrigo Sacchi’s eventual runners-up Italy.

    In the second round Jack Charlton’s men faced Holland in Orlando, but two big defensive errors would cost them as the Dutch ran out 2-0 winners. For their second, goalkeeper Pat Bonner allowed a 30-yard strike from Wim Jonk to go through his hands and into the net.

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    David Seaman | England 1-2 Brazil | 2002 Quarter-Final

    We may never know whether Ronaldinho meant it, but what is certain is that David Seaman should have saved it. Arguably the most iconic moment of the 2002 World Cup was Ronaldinho’s incredible 40-yard free kick lobbed winner in Brazil’s 2-1 quarter-final win over England in Fukuroi.

    Seaman was only three yards off his line when Ronaldinho struck the ball, so the fact he was unable to react in time can only go down as a massive blunder. The former Arsenal shot-stopper had an excellent career, but he will unfortunately be remembered for a number of expensive mistakes, including Nayim’s last-gasp halfway line lob for Real Zaragoza against the Gunners in the 1995 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final.

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    Oliver Kahn | Germany 0-2 Brazil | 2002 Final

    In 2002 there could be little doubt that Oliver Kahn was the best goalkeeper in the world. He had starred in Bayern Munich’s Champions League victory the previous year, and was almost unbeatable as Germany somehow scraped through to the World Cup Final.

    There they met Brazil, and for 67 minutes Kahn was perfect. Then, the giant 33-year-old fumbled a Rivaldo daisycutter and Ronaldo nipped in to put the South Americans ahead. El Fenomeno would soon add a second as Brazil lifted the trophy.

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    Rob Green | England 1-1 USA | 2010 Group Stages

    In England's 2010 World Cup opener, they had started well and were in the ascendency just before half-time against USA. All this changed though in the 40th minute.

    Rob Green was picked ahead of Joe Hart but he could not repay Fabio Capello's faith. Clint Dempsey's speculative shot from just outside the area deceived Green and deflected off him into the goal.

    England struggled after this game and managed to scrape through the group stage behind USA before being defeated 4-1 by Germany in the first knockout stage. 

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    Igor Akinfeev | Russia 1-1 South Korea | 2014 Group Stages

    In Group H at the 2014 World Cup, Russia would have hoped to make it out of the group with Belgium. But in their opening game against South Korea their chances were not helped by a huge error from their usually reliable keeper Igor Akinfeev.

    Le-Keun-Ho's shot from just over 20 yards out was tame and should have been comfortably caught by Akinfeev, but the keeper flapped at it to gift Korea the lead.

    Russia did manage to equalise shortly after, but the damage was done, and they never recovered from this disappointing draw to start their tournament. They were eliminated at the group stage, finishing third with just two points, with Algeria making it through with four points.

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    David de Gea | Portugal 3-3 Spain | 2018 Group Stages

    De Gea went into the World Cup finals in Russia as arguably the best goalkeeper on the planet, but he didn't even need a full half to make arguably the worst mistake of his career.

    With Spain having pulled themselves level following the conceding of an early penalty, Portugal were gifted the lead just before half-time.

    Cristiano Ronaldo, who had opened the scoring from the spot, was fed the ball on the edge of the area and his low shot somehow squirmed through De Gea's grasp.

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    Willy Caballero | Argentina vs Croatia | 2018 Group Stages

    With Argentina in need of a positive result and performance against Croatia following an opening draw with Iceland, the last thing the 2014 runners-up needed was to gift their opponents the lead.

    There appeared to be little danger when Gabriel Mercado played a routine back-pass to Willy Caballero eight minutes into the second half, but the veteran goalkeeper made a horrible mess of the situation when he sliced the ball tamely into the air.

    In fairness, there was still a lot for Ante Rebic to do as he produced a stunning volley to put Croatia in front, yet he should never have been given the opportunity by a shell-shocked Caballero.

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    Fernando Muslera | Uruguay vs France | 2018 Quarter-final

    Uruguay were already chasing the game an hour into a quarter-final date with France at Russia 2018, with Raphael Varane having nodded Les Bleus in front.

    The challenge facing the South Americans was then doubled when Muslera allowed a speculative effort from Antoine Griezmann to squirm through his grasp and drop over the line.

    The ball did move in the air, but the Uruguay keeper was never behind its flight and Griezmann barely celebrated as he ambled away looking rather sheepish at his good fortune.