It was the first major tournament held in the Middle East. It was the first to take place in November and December, and the first to take place in such a small geographical area. Qatar 2022 offered a fresh take on this long-standing and beloved event.
There were new records set and some equalled in what was a spectacle full of thrills and spills.
NEYMAR EQUALS PELE'S RECORD
Neymar equalled Pele's record tally of 77 goals for Brazil with his brilliant strike against Croatia in the World Cup quarterfinals, but his team crashed out on penalties.
The forward fired home from close range in extra time to put Brazil ahead and draw level with Pele, who scored his goals between 1957 and 1971.
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Neymar beat Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic with a clever dribble and converted from a tight angle in stoppage time in the first additional period.
KANE EQUALS ROONEY MILESTONE
Harry Kane became England's joint all-time leading goalscorer, striking for the 53rd time against France in the World Cup quarterfinals to join Wayne Rooney at the top of the charts.
The captain, playing his 80th international, scored England's equaliser early in the second half at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar to pull level with former Manchester United forward Rooney.
Joy turned into heartbreak for Kane in the second half when England got another penalty and Kane stepped up ready to write himself into the history books. At the second attempt, England's captain blazed his penalty over the bar against Hugo Lloris, sending them home.
ANOTHER RONALDO FIRST
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to score in five World Cups when he found the net against Ghana. Uwe Seeler, Pele, Miroslav Klose and Lionel Messi have netted in four global finals. Grzegorz Lato, Andrzej Szarmach, Michel Platini, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Diego Maradona, Lothar Matthaus, Rudi Voller, Roberto Baggio, Jurgen Klinsmann, Gabriel Batistuta, Fernando Hierro, Henrik Larsson, Raul, Ronaldo, Tim Cahill, Arjen Robben, David Villa, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Xherdan Shaqiri have scored in three.
KHAZRI SETS AFRICAN RECORD
Wahbi Khazri became the first African player to score in three successive World Cup starts after he followed up goals against Belgium and Panama at Russia 2018 with the winner against France. The 31-year-old has now been directly involved in Tunisia’s last five goals in the competition, having assisted Dylan Bronn and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef four years ago.
HISTORY WILL REMEMBER MUNTARI
Mohammed Muntari scored Qatar’s first-ever World Cup goal during its second group A match against Senegal, which the host nation lost 1-3.
The naturalised 28-year-old born in Kumasi in Ghana began his career in the Golden Lions Soccer Academy and made his maiden appearance on 27 December, 2014, scoring on his debut against Estonia in a friendly match.
He has since scored 12 more goals for his country in 49 caps.
MESSI 1000th MATCH
Lionel Messi scored in the 1 000th game of his remarkable career to give Argentina the lead in their World Cup last 16 clash with Australia.
The 35-year-old world champion also overtook Gabriel Batistuta to become the country's top scorer at the World Cup finals. Batistuta scored 10 goals in three World Cup editions between 1994 and 2002, a record that Messi surpassed with a goal against Croatia in the semifinal.
Messi continued to score two more goals in the final match against France to celebrate these milestones with football’s most coveted honour, the World Cup trophy.
MOROCCO BREAK NEW GROUND FOR AFRICA
It took 88 years of attempts for an African team to reach the World Cup semifinals. Morocco were the continental trailblazers.
After sinking Belgium in the group stage, Yassine Bounou, Achraf Hakimi, Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En-Nesyri and co eliminated Spain in the last 16 and Portugal in the quarterfinals. The Atlas Lions also gave France a strict examination in the last four before losing an end-to-end encounter with Croatia 2-1 in the battle for bronze.
MBAPPE GOAL BLITZ
With eight goals in seven appearances, the France talisman produced the highest-scoring World Cup by any individual player since the Brazilian Ronaldo emerged with an identical haul from the 2002 edition. Mbappe also became just the fifth player in World Cup history to score in separate finals, the first to score a final hat-trick since Geoff Hurst in 1966 and, with four goals across 2018 and 2022, is now established as the highest-scoring player in the history of football’s showpiece fixture.
MAIDEN WORLD CUP TREBLE
The rising Portugal star Goncalo Ramos became the first player to score a hat-trick on his maiden World Cup start since Miroslav Klose in 2002. He was also responsible for the first treble in the knockout stage since Tomas Skuhravy at Italia ‘90.
GIROUD OVERTAKES HENRY
The big Frenchman Olivier Giroud only started for France due to a late pre-tournament injury to Karim Benzema but certainly made the most of his opportunity, scoring four times to move on to 53 for his country – two clear of Thierry Henry’s previous record of 51.
AFRICA’S SAFEST HANDS
Yassine Bounou became the first African goalkeeper to keep three clean sheets at a single World Cup. He kept the gate intact in matches against Croatia, Spain and Portugal. The Atlas Lions reached the semifinals of Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 with a resounding 1-0 victory over Portugal.
SCALONI JOINS SELECT FEW
By lifting the Fifa World Cup, Lionel Scaloni has become the fifth youngest manager to win the tournament since his compatriot César Luis Menotti in 1978 (39). In the history of the Fifa World Cup, Scaloni becomes the 21st coach to lead his team to glory. Vicente del Bosque, 59 when he guided Spain to their maiden title in 2010, was the oldest to do so.