63 days to go: Extra-time drama

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is getting closer – 63 days to go!

In almost two months' time – on 14 June, to be precise – the 21st FIFA World Cup™ kicks off at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, as the hosts take on Saudi Arabia.​

That leaves us plenty of time to enjoy a countdown. Between now and the start of the World Cup, we will take a closer look at a different statistic from the history of the tournament each day.​

63 the number of FIFA World Cup™ matches that have gone to extra time. The first of them came at Italy 1934: a 3-2 victory for Austria over France. Not surprisingly, some of the most memorable matches in world finals history have been decided over the course of an additional 30 minutes, when nerves are on edge and mistakes can be costly. The Finals of the last three tournaments, won by Italy (Germany 2006), Spain (South Africa 2010), and Germany (Brazil 2014), were all decided after normal time. Perhaps the most dramatic extra 30 minutes played in a Final came at England 1966, however, when the hosts beat West Germany 4-2, thanks to a Geoff Hurst hat-trick, even if some Mannschaft supporters argue Hurst only scored two goals that day.

One of the World Cup’s most memorable extra-time showdowns came in the Mexico 1970 semi-final between Italy and West Germany, which produced five goals and saw the Italians emerge 4-3 winners. The West Germans were involved in another classic last-four encounter at Spain 1982, where they came from behind against France in a dramatic extra half-hour before advancing on penalties.

And who could forget Roger Milla dispossessing Rene Higuita and scoring what turned out to be an extra-time winner, as Cameroon saw off Colombia in the Round of 16 at Italy 1990, or the thrilling denouement of the South Africa 2010 quarter-final between Ghana and Uruguay? That match saw Luis Suarez handle the ball on the goalline in the last minute of extra time to stop a certain Ghanaian goal and Asamoah Gyan miss the resulting penalty. Duly reprieved, La Celeste went on to win the shoot-out.