Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Ibrahimovic, Aguero and Ben Arfa: The best goals of the year

A look back at the year in football

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden v England, November, selected by Sam Wallace
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden v England, November, selected by Sam Wallace
It would have been hard enough to pull off if he was facing goal with the ball sitting up nicely for him to hit. To lob Joe Hart with an overhead kick executed with his back to goal did rather put the ribbons on it.
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City v QPR, May, selected by Ian Herbert
Sergio Aguero's title-winning strike in May. Nothing can come close for an example of grace under pressure. The boy has ice in his veins.
Hatem Ben Arfa, Newcastle v Bolton, selected by Martin Hardy
Ben Arfa's mesmeric goal against Blackburn in the FA Cup was short-listed for Fifa's Puskas Award for the most beautiful goal of the year. His strike against Bolton was technically even better. Ben Arfa took a pass and turned an opponent in one move (inside his own half) to begin the run that would take him past four Bolton players, even having the audacity to chip the ball up ever so slightly during his run to leave those that saw it mesmerised.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden v England, November, selected by Steve Tongue
An overhead or scissors kick is always spectacular but carries a random element. Zlatan Ibrahimovic's against England was wonderfully precise as well as visionary.
Luis Suarez, Liverpool v Norwich, selected by Jack Pitt-Brooke
Luis Suarez scored two remarkable hat-tricks at Carrow Road in 2012. The first, in April, was probably the best, because of how he completed it. With eight minutes left and Liverpool 2-0, Glen Johnson cleared the ball from his own by-line. Suarez, just inside his own half, controlled the ball and nutmegged Elliott Ward on the turn with his first preposterous touch. With Suarez's second touch he knocked the ball in front of him and with his third, still 50 yards from goal, he drove the ball in a perfect arc over John Ruddy's head and down into the top corner of the net.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden v England, November, selected by Glenn Moore
It is not just the execution, which itself combines balletic grace with extraordinary athleticism, but the audacity of conception and the anticipation. Ibrahimovic is moving towards where he knows Joe Hart's header is going to land even before Hart himself realizes he has mis-judged his leap. For older readers it is as if Roy Race was inhabiting Dead-Shot Keen's boots.

With a new year beginning, our series looks back at the highs, lows, absurd and brilliant from the world of football in 2012.

>> Click on More Pictures to launch our gallery

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