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After months of scintillating football, tremendous goals and a fair bit of controversy too, the Champions League reaches its climax in Rome on Wednesday but who could possibly take the crown of goal of the tournament?
The ball has hit the net a total of 327 times in Europe’s premier club competition this season so there’s certainly a fair few to choose from. Well I’ve been locked away in a dark room for the past few days (well sort of) trawling the archives to pick out the very best of a quite brilliant bunch. So sit back, relax and feast your eyes on ten truly remarkable strikes that have lit up the Champions League over the past nine months.
10. Joao Moutinho vs Bayern Munich
Judging by Joao Moutinho’s rather reserved celebration, you can tell that this particular tie was already over as a contest. With Bayern 8-0 up on aggregate at the time, up steps the Portuguese international to smash home a rasper from 25-yards. A player who despite being dubbed one of the hottest prospects in European football hasn’t really lived up to the hype and has thus slipped off the radar somewhat. Although with a few more strikes like this one, David Moyes may want to open his cheque book before some of Europe’s giants start sniffing again.
9. Juninho Pernambucano vs Barcelona
It has turned into something of a cliché these days but Juninho Pernambucano really is the master of the free-kick. He’s proved it time and again against some of Europe’s top clubs and this goal against Barcelona goes even further to prove that he is the king of the dead ball situation. In fact Barca are probably getting sick of the sight of Juninho’s right boot as he’s done it to the Catalans before back in 2007 and I wouldn’t bet against him doing it to them again before he hangs up his boots.
8. Giorgos Karagounis vs Werder Bremen
It’s rare for a team to be a threat from a throw-in, unless of course you’re Stoke City. Although afford Giorgos Karagounis this sort of room and he has the ability to punish you. The beauty of this strike is that it’s clearly not just an aimless and hopeful punt at goal. Oh no, the Panathinaikos star knows exactly where the goal is as he executes a stunning volley to leave Tim Wiese stranded in the Werder Bremen goal.
7. Vincenzo Iaquinta vs Chelsea
You may be wondering how I’ve come to the conclusion that this goal merits a place in the top ten greatest goals from the Champions League this season. Well while Iaquinta doesn’t hammer the ball home from 40-yards or trick his way through an entire defence, the build-up and exquisite touches that create the space for the Italian to burst through and score are stunning to say the least. In a move involving David Trezeguet and Iaquinta himself, the two combine beautifully to leave John Terry and co trailing in their wake.
6. Lionel Messi vs Lyon
What can you possibly say to do justice to the unbelievable talent that is Lionel Messi? A terrific footballer and always a joy to watch, a statement amplified by this dribbling masterclass against Lyon. So how do you deal with Barcelona’s Argentine maestro? Well it’s a question that every opposition manager has probably mulled over for many a sleepless night. Whether you stick one, two or five men on Messi, he will inevitably still get the better of you as this goal aptly proves.
5. Fernandinho vs FC Basel
As long range free-kicks go, this one from Fernandinho is undisputedly up there with the very best you will ever see. The Shakhtar Donetsk attacking midfielder shows all the ability and guile that his Brazilian nationality demands as he belts an absolutely unstoppable effort into the net. Unfortunately Shakhtar failed to make it past the group phase of the Champions League although Fernandinho’s goal will undoubtedly still go down as one of the highlights of this season’s competition.
4. Michael Essien vs Barcelona
The game’s on a knife-edge. 0-0 after the first-leg in the Nou Camp and Barcelona and Chelsea are toying with eachother for first blood at the Bridge in the return encounter. Although with nine minutes gone cue Michael Essien to hammer home an unstoppable volley past a hapless Victor Valdes that sends the Chelsea fans bonkers. What makes it all the more special is that this is Essien’s habitually weaker side. He certainly won’t hit a better shot with his left-foot again that’s for sure.
3. Emmanuel Adebayor vs Villarreal
It wouldn’t be harsh to say that Adebayor has had something of an indifferent season this campaign. What with the spate of injuries he’s had to endure and lengthy periods of iffy form, he’s hardly set the world alight at the Emirates. Yet you have to admire the man for this piece of sensational skill against Villarreal that will help remind Gunners fans that he is still such a valuable commodity to possess. His first touch and execution of the volley in this instance was simply sublime. Who knows, his inspiration to try such an extravagant piece of skill may just have come from this man.
2. Andres Iniesta vs Chelsea
A show of hands now – how many of us were poised to see a Chelsea vs Manchester United re-run of last season’s Champions League final? I know that with stoppage time ticking away, I for one did not see Barcelona pulling off the great escape. Although you should never, ever write off the unexpected as with seconds remaining step forward Andres Iniesta to spark scenes of utter jubilation and chaos. It may not have flew in from 35-yards but the magnitude of the goal that sent Barcelona to Rome adds further merit to what already is a tremendous strike.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo vs Porto
Ronaldo himself claimed that this is the best goal he has ever scored and it’s not difficult to see why. I’d be tempted to say you’d be hard pressed to find a better strike in open play as the ball literally flies past Helton in the Porto goal. How the Portuguese superstar generates so much power with such little back lift is beyond me and from all of 40-yards too. Need we forget that the goal proved vitally important for Manchester United as they edged through to the semi-finals of the competition with that 1-0 away victory in the Estadio Dragao.