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The most memorable Women’s World Cup moments of all-time, named and ranked

Jayden Collins

| Last updated 

The most memorable Women’s World Cup moments of all-time, named and ranked

The 2023 World Cup taking place on Australian and New Zealand soil is set to be a defining moment in women’s football itself.

It will be the first with a 32-team format and the first to take place in the Southern Hemisphere.

But in the tournament’s 32-year history, there have been some magical moments that have helped propel it to the premier women’s sporting tournament in the world.

Ahead of the World Cup kicking off we’ve taken a look back at 10 of the most memorable moments in the tournament’s past, and had a crack at ranking them as well.


10. United States set World Cup record with 13-0 demolishment (2019)

Credit: Xinhua / Alamy
Credit: Xinhua / Alamy

It was the United States’ 13-0 thrashing of Thailand that saw superstar Alex Morgan net five goals - tying a record for most goals scored in a game.

The American side were relentless in the group game, as the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Rose Lavelle, Samantha Lewis, Lindsey Horan, and Mallory Pugh joined Morgan on the scoresheet.


It beat the 11-0 record set by Germany over Argentina in 2007 and put out a statement for the tournament favourites.

9. Matildas complete legendary comeback against Brazil (2019)

Credit: Xinhua / Alamy
Credit: Xinhua / Alamy

The Matildas were under a huge amount of pressure heading into their second group game of France 2019.


They had been handed a shock loss by Italy in the opening game of the tournament and were now coming up against one of the best teams in the world.

It seemed some of the pressure had gotten to the side as they found themselves 2-0 down after goals from Marta and Christiane.

As the game was heading into halftime, Caitlin Foord gave those watching in the stands and at home a glimmer of hope after bundling the ball over the line for her first-ever World Cup goal.

Chloe Logarzo drew level in the 57th minute - and fans could tell they were on the verge of greatness.


Less than 10 minutes later Sam Kerr had provided the pressure as Brazilian defender Monica headed the ball into her own goal. The goal stood after a lengthy VAR delay.

The Aussies showed guts in the final moments of the game to hold onto the 3-2 win and hand the team perhaps their greatest World Cup win of all time.

8. England’s World Cup dreams end in Heartbreak (2015)

Credit: PA Images / Alamy
Credit: PA Images / Alamy

It was a cruel ending to England’s tournament in Canada after they had reached the semi-finals for the first time in their history.

They were up against Japan and were tied 1-1 in the 90th minute of the game as the knockout seemed destined for extra time.

However, the most excruciating and unlikely of scenarios played out as England defender Laura Bassett attempted to clear the ball.

She had gone to lob it over the bar but instead ended up lobbing her own keeper as the ball hit the underside of the ball and went over the line to give the Japanese women the 2-1 win.

While it was heartbreaking for the Brits it was one of the most memorable moments in the tournament’s history nonetheless.

7. Michelle Akers scores 10 in 1991 tournament (1991)

Credit: Daniel Motz / Alamy
Credit: Daniel Motz / Alamy

It was the first FIFA Women’s World Cup and Michelle Akers would ensure it would be remembered for her performances.

One of the greatest players of the 90s, male or female, Akers would go on to net 10 goals in the tournament - more than 10 per cent of the total goals in the entire competition.

Five of those goals would come in a 7-0 quarterfinal win over Chinese Tapei, scoring a hat trick by the 33rd minute.

Although it was the very first Women’s World Cup, her 10 goals scored in that tournament still remains a record to this day.

In 2002, she was named FIFA Female Player of the Century, and those efforts were epitomised in the 1991 World Cup.

6. Germany go the entire tournament without conceding a goal (2007)

Credit: tony quinn / Alamy
Credit: tony quinn / Alamy

Talk about an unstoppable force.

Germany were undoubtedly one of the best teams going into the 2007 tournament and they proved to be fantastic both up front and in defence.

The only blimp on their record was a 0-0 draw against England in the group stages, otherwise they recorded an 11-0 win over Argentina (yes 11), and a 2-0 win over Japan.

They proved to be just as dominant in the knockout stages with 3-0 wins over North Korea and Norway.

And then it came down to the final against Brazil - a team who had scored 17 goals in the tournament and would be Germany’s toughest defensive test.

However, despite having Golden Shoe winner Marta in toe, the South Americans failed to penetrate Germany’s defence as the Europeans went on to win 2-0.

Of course, they set the Women’s World Cup record for fewest goals conceded in their efforts.

5. Golden Goal gifts Germany first-ever World Cup (2003)

Credit: Associated Press / Alamy
Credit: Associated Press / Alamy

Another German moment in our list, proving just how much of a powerhouse the nation are.

It was the first and only time a World Cup final would be decided by a golden goal.

The rule had been experimented with during the 2003 tournament, and as Germany came up against Sweden the intensity of extra time was palpable.

The game had been locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes but in the 98th minute, the substitute Nia Kunzer would send the stadium into raptures.

Blasting a header past the goalkeeper off a free-kick, Kunzer gave Germany their first ever Women’s World Cup title.

The golden goal rule would not be used for a Women’s World Cup final again.

4. Marta’s masterclass against the United States (2007)

Credit: Associated Press / Alamy
Credit: Associated Press / Alamy

Marta’s performance against the United States in the semi-final of the 2007 World Cup proved why she is largely considered the greatest female footballer of all-time.

It was perhaps the most dominant individual performance in the history of the tournament with two goals and one assist to absolutely blitz the American defence.

There were times when the Brazilian would have three to four players marking her with none able to contain her ability.

However, it is one piece of skill in the 79th minute that led to her second goal that really put the cherry on top of this performance.

Receiving the ball in the air and with her back to the defender, she used a back heel to skin her

opposition before beating another player and sending the ball into the net.

It’s one of the greatest goals in football history, and that moment alone deserves to be on this list.

3. Japan triumph to become first Asian nation to win World Cup (2011)

Credit: tony quinn / Alamy
Credit: tony quinn / Alamy

An absolute fairytale story in 2011 that saw Japan triumph just months after the country’s third deadliest earthquake in history.

It was a tournament full of emotion, as Japan went into the competition looking to take hearts and minds away from the devastation the entire country had suffered.

Not much was expected from the Asian side as they had failed to advance past the group stage in the three previous World Cups.

But with a team full of determination they managed to make it through Germany and Japan en route to the final.

They would come up against the ever-dominant United States in the final.

After two goals apiece and 120 minutes of play it came down to a penalty shootout where Japan triumphed 3-1.

It was a fantastic story and a monumental moment for Asian football.

2. Carli Lloyd’s World Cup final hat trick (2015)

Credit: Associated Press / Alamy
Credit: Associated Press / Alamy

Only three people can say they’ve scored a hat trick in a World Cup final - Geoff Hurst, Kylian Mbappe, and Carli Lloyd.

But only Lloyd can say they did it within 16 minutes.

The American superstar cemented her legendary status in the 2015 final against Japan with three goals in the first 16 minutes of the game.

United States had already secured their win by the 14th minute as they led their Asian counterparts 3-0.

But Lloyd would all but squash their hopes of a comeback with undoubtedly the greatest goal ever scored at the Women’s World Cup.

Winning the ball back in her own half, she lobbed the Japanese keeper from the halfway line - watching the ball nestle into the back of the net.

An incredible goal to seal an incredible hat trick, and in a World Cup final of all places - it doesn’t get much better than that.

1.United States cap off penalty shootout victory with iconic celebration (1999)

Credit: Associated Press / Alamy
Credit: Associated Press / Alamy

This moment comes in two-parts.

The first - the United States defeated China in a penalty shootout to win the World Cup in front of their home nation.

It was a nail-biting 120 minutes which saw neither side manage to find the net of play, meaning that the 1999 World Cup would be decided by spot-kicks.

And it came down to Brandi Chastain to convert the all-important kick to secure the title.

As for the second part - after Chastain scored her penalty she ripped off her jersey and wheeled away in her sports bra in one of the most famous celebrations of all time.

It was a moment in time that helped propel women’s football into the mainstream, with the image of Chastain clenching her fists, with jersey in hand, becoming the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Chastain told of the moment: “Momentary insanity, nothing more, nothing less.

"I wasn’t thinking about anything. I thought, 'My God, this is the greatest moment of my life on the soccer field.' "

Not only was it the greatest moment of her life, it was our most memorable moment in Women’s World Cup history.

Featured Image Credit: tony quinn / Alamy. PA Images / Alamy.

Topics: Football, Womens World Cup, Womens Football

Jayden Collins
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