Kylian Mbappe’s breakout performances, 12 own goals and very few red cards despite all Neymar’s dives.
Here is a look at the records set and broken during the World Cup in Russia, and what it tells us about the tournament:
Plenty of Goals
With just one scoreless draw in 64 games, Russia’s World Cup has been far from dull.
By the time France and Denmark delivered a boring 0-0 draw in the group stage, 35 games had been played with at least one goal scored, breaking a World Cup record that had stood for 64 years.
France’s 4-2 win over Croatia in the final increased the tournament tally to 169 goals – two fewer than the record 171 in the 2014 and 1998 editions.
And the tournament averaged 2.64 goals per game, second only to Brazil in 2014 for World Cups this century.
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The record of 5.38 per game from 1954 is unlikely ever to fall without major rule changes. Back then, many teams lagged far behind the best, leading to two 7-0 thrashings and a 9-0 game.
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Own Goals And Penalties
While teams have scored more goals than usual, the number of own goals in Russia was double the previous record.
The 12 own goals included the first ever in a World Cup final.
The increase is in part because FIFA has stricter guidelines about attributing deflected shots. But the new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system has led to an increase in the number of penalties awarded to a record 29, 11 more than the previous mark from 2002. Of those, 22 were converted from the spot.
Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic’s own goal was the first ever in a World Cup final.
Harry Kane typified the trend in his push to be tournament top scorer. The England captain scored three of his tournament-leading six goals from penalties and two shortly after corner kicks, leaving just a single deflected goal from open play.
Modern technology has helped the World Cup’s more modest teams pick the right tactics to frustrate top-class opponents, but there have still been some outstanding goals. Denis Cheryshev’s curling shot for Russia against Croatia and Benjamin Pavard’s swerving strike for France against Argentina are among the highlights.
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Mbappe And El Hardy
Young stars have made a mark, none more than France’s 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who became the youngest player to score two goals in a World Cup game since Pele in 1958.
Mbappe also became the first teenager since Pele to score in a World Cup final.
Mbappe became the first teenager since Pele to score in a World Cup final.
Ageing players have set records, too. Goalkeeper Essam El Hadary became the oldest player ever start in a World Cup game when he lined up in Egypt’s last match against Saudi Arabia aged 45. Mexico veteran Rafael Marquez became the first player picked in a starting 11 at five World Cups.
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Croatia got to the final the hard way, becoming the first team ever to win three consecutive games in extra time at a World Cup.
That added up to 360 minutes of football in the knockout stages before reaching the final, the equivalent of a full game more than France. In the end, the Croats ran out of steam.
France took a 4-1 lead midway through the second half of the final and it was pretty much over from there. France won its second World Cup title, and Croatia’s best run ever ended in a runner-up finish.
Croatia’s Luka Modric front and teammates are greeted by French players after their defeat by France.
Keeping It Cool
Perhaps with one eye on the VAR system, players didn’t break the rules so much, but they’ve certainly been bending them.
There hasn’t been a single red card for violent conduct, and just four ejections in total. It’s the lowest number at the World Cup for 40 years.
Compare that with 2006, when 28 reds were issued including four in one game when Portugal beat the Netherlands.
However, there have been plenty of cases of players mobbing referees, wasting time and writhing in exaggerated agony. Swiss broadcaster RTS calculated Neymar spent nearly 14 minutes on the ground in Brazil’s first four games.