World Cup's most shocking moments, from the 'Hand of God' goal to the Luis Suárez bite

Gravity-defying moves, jaw-dropping red card offenses and surprising goals are just a few things World Cup fans are preparing for as more than 700 players from 32 teams head to stadiums across Russia during the 2018 tournament.

History has proved soccer ("football") matches are nothing short of entertaining. In fact, some actions taken in a game can make or break a player's career.


From Diego Maradona's epic "Hand of God" goal to Ogenyi Onazi's bone-breaking kick, here are 7 standout moments from World Cup history.

The Luis Suárez bite, 2014

Uruguayan professional striker Luis Suárez was expelled from the 2014 World Cup in disgrace for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini. Uruguay was later eliminated by Colombia in the round of 16.

Suárez was also suspended from participating in any events for the league for four months, received a hefty fine and missed the first nine games of the season — the most severe ban in World Cup history, the BBC reported in 2014.

"Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch and, in particular, not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field," Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA disciplinary committee, told BBC in a statement.


Suárez has since taken responsibility for his actions.

"It was my mistake," Suárez told The Associated Press ahead of the 2018 tournament in Russia. "So I have a debt to repay to myself and Uruguay, to try to show a good image."

"The flying Dutchman," 2014

All eyes were glued to Dutch soccer player Robin van Persie as he flew through the air during a 2014 World Cup match against Spain. van Persie's diving header goal over Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas gave the Netherlands the point they needed to tie the game 1-1 ahead of the half, USA Today reports. The point kickstarted the team's charge to victory over Spain with a final score of 5-1.

“After I scored, the stadium exploded, the bench exploded, but so did my head," Van Persie told The Mirror in 2015. “I did something which I had never done before. I kept looking at the ball while I was flying, until I landed with a massive bang with my face forward on the ground.’’

Nigel de Jong's "kung-fu kick," 2010

It was the "kung-fu kick" felt around the world.

Dutch soccer player Nigel de Jong was given a yellow card after kicking Spain's Xabi Alonso straight in the chest during the 2010 World Cup final. Spain ended up beating the Netherlands 1-0.

The Dutch player called the cleats-up incident an accident.

“I just wanted to play the ball — that was my only focus. I didn’t see Alonso coming because he was on my blind side. I didn’t expect to get sent off at the time because I felt it was obviously an unfortunate incident," de Jong told FourFourTwo magazine in June. “I was lucky that an English referee was in charge, because he’d seen many hard challenges in the past. I thought he would give me the benefit of the doubt because I put my hands up immediately.”

Landon Donovan's game-winning goal

U.S. soccer player Landon Donovan made history during his team's final group game against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup. The teams were neck-and-neck — with no goals on the board — during the final minutes of the match, and the U.S. needed to score in order to advance in the Cup.

After the U.S. team's failed attempt at a goal, Donovan got the ball back and gave it another shot. In the 91st minute of the match, Donovan scored what many call a "miracle goal," which gave the U.S. its 1-0 victory over Algeria.

“The beauty of those situations, and why soccer is so different from any other sport, is when you’re running with the ball, your instincts take over. And so you’re doing these things hundreds and hundreds of times, then in that moment, it’s instinct,” Donovan told Sports Illustrated. “That’s always been so much fun for me and I’ve enjoyed that so much. That moment was a perfect moment for the way I like to play … We’re conditioned to know what to do in those situations and you just let everything else go.”

The Zinedine Zidane headbutt, 2006

There has never been a final act in soccer quite like France's Zinedine Zidane's headbutt during a 2006 World Cup game against Italy.

Television cameras missed the incident at first, panning to Italian defender Marco Materazzi suddenly lying on the ground. But replays showed Zidane racing toward the defender following an exchange of words and felled him with his head — his last act as a professional player. France held on until the shootout, which Italy won after scoring all five spot kicks.

"To him I cannot [apologize]. Never, never. It would be to dishonor me. I'd rather die. There are evil people. And I don't even want to hear those guys speak," Zidane told El Pais at the time.

Zidane claimed Materazzi made "harsh" comments about his mother and sister, according to The Washington Post.

"He said some very harsh words, which he repeated several times," Zidane told the Post in 2006. "Words that were several times harsher than acts. They were words that touch the innermost parts of me. Very personal things, my mother, my sister."

Materazzi denied insulting Zidane's mom, and hinted that he "didn't say anything to him about racism, religion or politics."

A year later, Materazzi revealed what he really said to TV Sorrisie Canzoni magazine, admitting it was, in fact, about Zidane's sister.

"Hand of God" goal, 1986

Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona scored one of the most famous goals in World Cup history in 1986. It's called the "Hand of God."

Argentina played England at Mexico's Azteca Stadium during the 1986 World Cup. Early in the second half, Maradona scored his first goal.

England defender Steve Hodge intercepted a pass and flicked the ball back toward goalkeeper Peter Shilton. But Maradona, who had made his way into the penalty area after the previous attack fizzled, leapt up and got to the ball before Shilton. The ball somehow trickled into the net.

Replays showed Maradona used his left fist, not his head, to score. After the match, he explained the goal came "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God."

Argentina held on to win 2-1 and make the semifinals, where Maradona scored another fantastic individual goal against Belgium.

More than 30 years after the iconic goal, Maradona was asked during a June interview with French football coach and former player Robert Pirès for online betting site Bwin if there would have been a different outcome if video assistant referees (VAR) were around back in 1986.

"I would have been arrested ... Because you can't steal in front of 80,000 people," Maradona joked.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.