Saves the best in the past

Saves the best in the past

It is a World Cup that has seen plenty of goals, refereeing blunders, giant-killing acts and the defending champions cut down to their knees.

And yesterday morning (Singapore time) at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, the world saw a goalkeeping performance for the ages, by Mexico shot-stopper Guillermo Ochoa.

The 28-year-old made a series of spectacular saves to keep out the hosts Brazil and their hotshot Neymar.

In the 26th minute, Neymar rose at the back post to plant a firm header goalwards, only to see Ochoa launch himself at the ball and beat it clear at full-stretch.

Immediately, some people were saying that Ochoa's save was the best at any World Cup - even better than Gordon Banks' classic save off Pele in 1970.

It was a good save, no doubt. But the best ever? Give me a break.

Here are five other World Cup saves which, in my view, put Ochoa's in the shade.

Noel Valladares (Honduras v Chile,World Cup 2010)

Just four years ago in South Africa, Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares denied Chile defender Waldo Ponce from about two metres with an unforgettable stop.

In the 65th minute, Chile launched a long free-kick into their opponents' penalty box, and the Honduran defenders seemed to be frozen in time as Arturo Vidal sent a header back to the centre of the six-yard box.

Ponce met it with a strong, low, diving header but somehow, Valladares managed to get across in time and claw the ball to safety.

Gordon Banks (England v Brazil, World Cup 1970)

How can we have a list of top World Cup saves without including Banks' famous save from Pele's header at Mexico 1970?

Brazil winger Jairzinho sends a cross to Pele, who rises about 10 metres from goal and plants a firm header towards the bottom corner.

Banks sees the ball go past him but somehow manages to contort his back, reach backwards and scoop the ball over from practically under the crossbar.

Christian Piot (Belgium v Mexico, World Cup 1970)

At the same World Cup, Mexico's Juan Frangoso forced Belgium's Christian Piot into a remarkable save.

From what was effectively the penalty spot, Frangoso lashed a powerful, sliced shot at goal but Piot somehow managed to react in time to divert it over.

Rinat Desaev (USSR v Scotland, World Cup 1982)

Rinat Dasaev cemented his place as one of the game's greatest goalkeepers with a superb save off Scotland striker Joe Jordan at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

Jordan sent a powerful header towards Dasaev's bottom left corner - similar to Pele's except it was slightly closer to goal.

Dasaev had to react and move his 1.89m-tall frame in a split second, but somehow, he managed it.

Toni Turek (West Germany v Hungary, World Cup 1954)

A headed flick-on found Hungary striker Nandor Hidegkuti dead centre of goal, about six metres out, and the forward stuck out a foot to divert a fierce shot towards goal.

Toni Turek, though, somehow sprung to his left and stuck out his left arm to divert the ball over.

A German journalist later referred to the save as an 'Act of God', and many thought that it was indeed a miracle.


This article was first published on June 19, 2014.
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