It goes without saying that, in soccer, creating plays is just as important as scoring goals. While it’s the goalscorers who get the applause most of the time, the players who create chances are just as important to teams.
Creating a chance or setting up your teammates to score has to be right behind finding the back of the net for your side. Sometimes the assist provider would have done most of the work and all the striker would have had to do is get the ball into the net.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at five of the best assists at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
#5 Son Heung-min to Hwang Hee-chan (South Korea vs Portugal)
South Korea pulled off a brilliant comeback in their final group game against Portugal to book a place in the round of 16. Ricardo Horta opened the scoring for Fernando Santos’ men in the fifth minute of the game before Kim Young-gwon restored parity in the 27th minute.
They desperately needed all three points and didn’t secure the winning goal until the 91st minute. The ever-reliable Son Heung-min grabbed the ball from inside his own half and ran nearly 70 yards with it. Once he was close to the opposition box, he raised his head and noticed Hwang Hee-chan’s run towards the box.
Son waited a fraction of a second longer, drawing three defenders towards him before firing an incisive pass to the Wolverhampton Wanderers striker.
He produced a clean finish to win the game for his side. South Korea had just evoked one of the best moments of the group stage. But it was all due to Son’s effort and presence of mind.
#4 Daley Blind to Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands vs USA)
The Netherlands dominated the United States for most of their round of 16 match. Their full-backs were in full swing and Denzel Dumfries was the star of the show with two assists and a goal. Daley Blind did pretty well for himself too, scoring a goal and producing a peachy assist.
After a 2-0 lead, the Netherlands offered the USA a glimmer of hope by conceding a goal in the 76th minute. But they were quick to extinguish it too. Just minutes after the USA got their goal, Blind receives the ball deep down the left wing and goes unmarked. At this point, there are four USMNT players guarding the penalty area.
Unbeknownst to any of them except Blind, Dumfries is lurking on the other side. Blind hits a touch and throws the ball to Dumfries with pinpoint accuracy and the youngster hits it comfortably on target to end the game.
#3 Lionel Messi to Nahuel Molina (Argentina vs Netherlands)
Argentina was expected to have trouble trying to break the stubborn Dutch defense in their quarterfinal match. They found it difficult to find a breakthrough, but that was until Messi decided to take matters into his own hands. He received the ball not too deep in the Dutch field.
The 35-year-old then headed inside, dragging Nathan Ake with him. As Messi dove inside, Argentine right-back Nahuel Molina ran to the edge of the box. Messi did not even need to raise his head to take a look.
He nonchalantly flicked a no-look pass through Ake’s legs into Molina’s path and the full-back made no mistake burying the ball in the back of the net. Messi eliminated six players with that one pass.
#2 Vinicius Junior to Lucas Paquetá (Brazil vs South Korea)
Brazil absolutely demolished South Korea in the first half of their round of 16 encounter. The Selecao put the ball into the Korean goal up to four times in the 36th minute and his fourth goal was gorgeous.
Brazil embarked on one of their wide counter-attacks and it was a three-on-four situation as Neymar passed the ball to Vinicius down the left flank. The Real Madrid winger entered the area, turned around and slowed things down.
At that moment Richarlison and Raphinha were picked up by their markers, Neymar appearing to be running straight into traffic. It was then that Lucas Paquetá entered the scene with a late shot into the box.
He called for it and Vinicius produced a spectacular high pass his way and the midfielder kicked into the bottom left corner emphatically.
#1 Lionel Messi to Julián Álvarez (Argentina vs Croatia)
Josko Gvardiol, the 20-year-old Croatian centre-back, has had a fantastic World Cup and is widely regarded as one of the tournament’s best defenders. Even he couldn’t get out of a battle with a 35-year-old Messi unscathed.
With the score 2-0, Messi receives the ball on the right wing near the halfway line. Gvardiol comes out to challenge him, but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner gets past him and runs towards the end line. But Gvardiol reaches him and Messi fails to get the center.
No problem. He maintains control of the ball and executes a spin before dropping his shoulder sending Gvardiol down the wrong path. He turns around again and this time manages to gain a meter from the young center back.
Messi then displays an incredible amount of force to contain him as he winds his way into the penalty area and then blasts a pass through Gvardiol’s legs to find Álvarez. All the young striker has to do is sweep and he does it with ease.
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