7 of the Greatest FIFA World Cup Hat-tricks of All Time

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia saw a rare feat (perhaps the only one in its history). In under 24-hours, four different players bagged hat-tricks, with two even coming in the same game.

Safe to say, the World Cup is amazing. Hat-tricks are amazing. But scoring a hat-trick in a World Cup is really amazing! 

Only 52 hat-tricks have been scored in over 800 matches in the 21 editions of the World Cup tournament. The first hat-trick was scored by Bert Patenaude of the United States, playing against Paraguay in 1930; the most recent was by England's Harry Kane against Panama on 24 June 2018.

The only World Cup not to have at least one hat-trick scored was the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The record number of hat-tricks in a single World Cup tournament is eight, during the 1954 FIFA World Cup in Switzerland.

Here are 7 of the greatest FIFA World Cup hat-tricks of all time:

7. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal vs. Spain, 2018)

Cristiano Ronaldo was Portugal’s saviour as he scored a hat-trick to secure a draw against Spain. This was his highest goal tally in a FIFA World Cup match. He kicked off with an early penalty, deceiving Nacho inside the box to win it and then stroking the ball home from the spot. He got his second when David de Gea made a mistake and conceded a goal. 

Fortunately for Spain, Diego Costa was in fine form as he put two past Portugal's defence. As the clock ticked down, however, Gerard Pique brought down Ronaldo just outside the box, with the Portugal star dusting himself down to complete the scoring with a sublime free-kick.

6. Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina vs. South Korea, 2010)

Gonzalo Higuain fired a memorable hat-trick as Argentina wrapped up a thrilling 4-1 victory over Korea Republic to assure themselves of a place in the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup. After Pauleta scored three for Portugal in World Cup 2002, it had been a full eight years for the next finals hat-trick, with nobody managing it in 2006.

Higuain was the only man to notch three in a game at the 2010 finals too, as the hat-trick rate at the World Cup slowed dramatically after the turn of the century. The Argentina striker's hat-trick made him the last man to have scored a treble at the World Cup finals—until Thomas Muller.

5. Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina vs. Jamaica, 1998)

Gabriel Batistuta became the first ever player to notch hat-tricks at successive World Cups. His first World Cup hat-trick came against Greece in 1994, while his second was in a 1998 group match against Jamaica, exactly four years later on June 21.

He blasted his first into the bottom corner, did the same for his second from almost exactly the same spot, and put a bow on it by scoring from the spot in the 82nd minute. In doing so, Batistuta became the first and only player to ever score hat-tricks in back-to-back World Cups, and only the fourth player to ever score hat-tricks in multiple World Cups. 

4. Paolo Rossi (Italy vs. Brazil, 1982)

The amount of pressure of Paolo Rossi's shoulders during the 1982 FIFA World Cup was unimaginable. For two years leading up to the World Cup, Rossi was banned from playing professionally for his (alleged) involvement in the infamous Totonero match-fixing scandal. And everyone expected him to fail. But Rossi was determined to prove them wrong, and he did!

Rossi was the tournament’s top goal-scorer with six total goals. His World Cup hat-trick came in an epic 3-2 victory against Brazil. 

His first goal was a header off a beautiful cross from Antonio Cabrini with just five minutes in. For his second, he picked off a pass in the Brazilian backfield and slotted in a goal from the top of the box. And for his hat-trick goal, he finished off a shot by Marco Tardelli in the 74th minute. Rossi also bagged the opening goal in Italy’s 3-1 victory over West Germany in the final.

3. Gerd Müller (West Germany vs. Bulgaria, and Peru, 1970)

Gerd Muller is currently ranked as the third, all-time leading World Cup goalscorer, behind Miroslav Klose and Ronaldo, and rightly so! He scored hat-tricks in back-to-back matches for West Germany at the 1970 World Cup, and became only the third player to ever achieve two hat-tricks in one World Cup. 

Muller showed off his entire skill set that year, scoring mostly off crosses from outside the box. His hat-tricks against Peru were ones to be remembered for the sheer brilliance and technique applied to scoring off crosses put in by his teammates. Muller ended the tournament with a total of 10 goals, a World Cup record at the time.

2. Pelé (Brazil vs. France, 1958)

At 17 years, Pele became the youngest player to ever play in the World Cup finals. He also became the youngest player to ever score a hat-trick in a World Cup match. The mighty triad came during Brazil’s semi-final match against France, with Pelé scoring his hat-trick in a mere 23 minutes.

His first goal came after French goalkeeper Claude Abbes mishandled a cross inside the penalty area and gifted Pele an open shot in front of the goal. His second arrived in similar fashion, after a French defender failed to clear a pass by Pele, leaving the Brazilian open to blast the ball into the side-netting. Pele scored his third and final goal with a brilliant, self-serving volley from the top of the box.

1. Geoff Hurst (England vs. West Germany, 1966)

Sir Geoffrey Hurst delivered England’s one and only World Cup trophy in 1966 by scoring the World Cup final’s one and only hat-trick. England won the match 4-2 after extra time, with two of Hurst's three coming in the added 30 minutes.

Hurst’s first was a gleaming header inside the box, after he connected with a soaring free-kick from skipper Bobby Moore. His second, in the 101st minute, was a strike off the crossbar and down on to the line, which the linesman and referee ruled a goal, to put England ahead in extra time. Hurst’s hat-trick sealed the deal in the 120th minute

 7 of the greatest FIFA World Cup hat-tricks of all time