Aaron Ramsey’s second goal against Galatasaray in the Champions League last week had fellow players, pundits and many fans in disbelief at the time. Some former players, including Paul Merson, have gone as far as saying it is one of the best goals they have ever seen.
Before we compare it to some of the best goals in the history of the Champions League, let’s just point out what made the strike so special. The Welshman hit the ball on his standing leg from just short of 30-yards into the corner of the Galatasaray goal to leave the home goalkeeper with no chance of keeping the ball out.
When you first look back at the strike you don’t necessarily appreciate the skill involved to not only hit the ball but to ensure it was accurate enough to have a chance of being on target. However, once you do watch it back, it gets better and better. But what are the best goals in Champions League history?
The technique shown by Ramsay in his strike last week is beyond superlatives. There are probably only a handful of players anywhere on the planet that would even think about striking a ball on their standing leg. However, to do so from the distance he was away from goal makes it even more incredible.
When you look back through the history books, there are very few goals which compete with it from a technical level. The one thing which stops it being in the top three of the greatest of all time is that Arsenal were leading 2-0 and cruising to victory in the game, much to the delight of their supporters and those who had taken a punt on the game with the likes of betfair. With that in mind, you could argue the pressure was off – allowing Ramsey the freedom to ‘have a go’.
Although the goal did count for little in terms of the scoreline, Ramsey deserves his spot in the history books for the way he generated enough pace but kept the accuracy of the strike to find the top corner.
It’s not often you see the reaction of team-mates like that of Yaya Sanogo and Wojciech Szczesny, who both had their hands on their heads in shock.
Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid) v Bayer Leverkusen – 15th May, 2002
Zinedine Zidane is regarded as one of the most gifted technical players of the Champions League era, while the likes of David Beckham consider him the best player with whom they have played, and he proved this on the biggest occasion of them all with a spectacular goal in the 2002 final for Real Madrid against Bayer Leverkusen.
The most impressive aspect of Zidane’s goal, aside from it being in the biggest club football game of the season, was the fact it was on his wrong foot. He was able to bring Roberto Carlos’ cross down from the air and place it into the top-left corner.
You could argue it was the sweetest strike of Zidane’s career and it would be interesting to see how many times he could find the back of the goal from the same passage of play if he was to try it again. What is for sure, though, is that most players who attempt to do what the Frenchman did would not have found the back of the net and would instead have found row z behind the goal.
Big players tend to make big moments on the biggest stage and this is exactly what the Frenchman did on this occasion. That has to make this strike one of the best we have ever seen in Champions League history, but most certainly the best in any final of the competition.
Ronaldinho (Barcelona) v Chelsea – 8th March, 2005
The most audacious goal of the Champions League era has to go to Ronaldinho. If you have never seen this before, it is a must watch. This was a tie which had a lot of spice due to the rivalry of the clubs and their managers, Jose Mourinho and Frank Rijkaard.
The Chelsea defence looked to have closed down every possible option available to the Barcelona forward when he had the ball on the edge of the box. Blues defender Ricardo Carvalho was stood directly in front of him to block the sight of goal, however, Ronaldinho was able to majestically kick the ball with the outside of his right foot and curl it around the Chelsea defender into the goal.
Again, in terms of importance, Ronaldinho’s goal mattered a lot in terms of the two-legged tie. Before the Brazilian’s wonder strike, Barcelona were 4-3 behind on aggregate and so it was hugely important despite the Spanish giants going on to lose the tie.
At the time, Ronaldinho was one of the best players in the world – if not the best as he was again voted. He consistently gave defences nightmares with his trickery and scored some outstanding goals, but this was one was right up there with any in his career.
It was the kind of goal which left opposition supporters at the stadium applauding what they had just seen, as they knew that was a moment of history that was going to be played back countless times in the future.
Mauro Bressan (Fiorentina) v Barcelona – 2nd November, 1999
There have been various polls taken over the years to establish which is the best Champions League goal of all time. More often than not, Mauro Bressan’s overhead goal in 1999 for Fiorentina against Barcelona tops that list.
It is quite extraordinary to think that Bressan only ever scored twice for the Italian side but one of those will go down in history for being spectacular.
Overhead goals are always special regardless of where they are executed on the pitch. However, to score from more than 25 yards out makes the Italian’s strike even more incredible. Before the goal, the passage of play was becoming really scrappy – with the ball up high in the air more often than not. Bressan, though, decided to take a gamble. As the ball came down, he performed a bicycle kick which really could have gone anywhere. Fortunately for his side, it flew into the net to give the Italians a huge goal against the Spanish giants.
Supporters at the game were expecting to see something special from Rivaldo or Luis Figo, who were both part of the Catalan side. But instead it was a relatively unknown Italian who stole the headlines in the 3-3 encounter in Florence.
Juninho (Lyon) v Bayern Munich -20th March, 2004
Free-kicks don’t often make these sorts of lists but Juninho’s against Bayern Munich is an exception. The Brazilian was able to beat arguably the best goalkeeper in the world at the time, Olivier Khan, from just short of 40 yards.
As soon as Junhino struck the ball, it started rising into the air. But just as it was reaching the goal, the ball dipped enough to hit the inside of the bar and into the net.
Khan has no doubt watched the free-kick back a dozen times and will still find it hard to believe that he was beaten from just a long distance. However, he will hopefully accept one day that it was a special strike that was scored by an exceptional player.