Top five World Cup group stage goals

Sports Mole picks out the top five goals from the group stages of the World Cup in Brazil.

The knockout stage of the World Cup gets underway later today, which means that it is time for one last look back at the group stages.

Yesterday, we reviewed the best five matches of the tournament so far, while today our attention turns to the most eye-catching goals.

The competition has seen the most goals per match since 1970, and there have been some absolute stunners so far.

Here are Sports Mole's favourites:

1. Tim Cahill (Netherlands 3-2 Australia)

Australia were the lowest-ranked side to have qualified for the tournament, and were not fancied to cause an upset against the Netherlands, who reached the final in 2010. However, Tim Cahill produced a wonderstrike in the 20th minute of their Group B clash. What was perhaps most impressive was that it was on his weaker foot, as well as being hit first time on the volley outside the penalty area. It had little impact on the full-time score, as the Dutch clinched a 3-2 win to seal their spot in the last 16 while Australia exited the competition without picking up a single point, but it will take a lot for the higher-ranked sides to find a better finish than this throughout the remainder of the tournament.

2. Lionel Messi (Argentina 1-0 Iran)

On paper, this match should have been a big win for Argentina, but Iran had defended superbly and almost took the lead a couple of times as they tried to secure their first point of the competition. However, the former Ballon d'Or winner had other ideas, curling the ball in from outside the box in stoppage time to break Iranian hearts. The Barcelona striker's sublime finish left the goalkeeper with little chance as he coolly rounded the defender before picking out the top corner.

3. Robin van Persie (Spain 1-5 Netherlands)

No-one could have predicted the final score when the defending champions faced the beaten finalists from four years ago in their opening match of the tournament. The turning point for the Dutch side was a breathtaking header from Robin van Persie just before half time. The Manchester United forward timed his run to perfection to pick up a delivery from Daley Blind before throwing himself at the ball to head past Iker Casillas. The finish was so impressive, it inspired the social media craze of Persieing, where fans took pictures of themselves mimicking his dive for the ball, including his 93-year-old grandfather.

4. James Rodriguez (Japan 1-4 Colombia)

In the absence of Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez has really emerged as a star for Colombia in their group campaign. He cemented his status as the playmaker of the team with a fabulous goal in the team's 4-1 win over Japan. The win was already in the bag when the Monaco midfielder poked the ball home, but his goal was impressive nonetheless. Rodriguez needed all of his pace to pick up the through-ball, before calmly guiding the ball past the keeper with a delicate finish.

5. Jermaine Jones (USA 2-2 Portugal)

It was a toss-up between this and Xherdan Shaqiri's first goal against Honduras, but this just edges the Swiss strike as it had to beat a tougher defence. With a match against Germany still to come, the Americans really needed something from their game against Portugal, but fell behind early on. Up stepped Jermaine Jones to get them back on level terms, as he created some space from nowhere before drilling the ball into the back of the net.

Netherlands' forward Robin van Persie celebrates after scoring during a Group B football match between Spain and the Netherlands at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 13, 2014
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