One-two’s are a great part of football. The one-two consists of a player passing the ball to a team-mate, who passes it back first time and the two quick touches can leave defenders trailing in their wake. Some of the best attacking football comes from effective give-and-gos and for anyone who appreciates offensive play they are a joy to watch.
For the purposes of this list I’ve gone for the strictest definition of the one-two, meaning the return pass must be played first time, which unfortunately rules out this excellent give-and-go between Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas in the lead up to Henry’s belter in Arsenal’s 2-0 win against Blackburn Rovers in 2007.
10: Wayne Bridge and Eidur Gudjohnsen – Chelsea v Arsenal, Champions League Quarter-Final Second Leg 2004
Probably Wayne Bridge’s biggest contribution in a Chelsea shirt and the dramatic goal which broke a Chelsea hoodoo against the Gunners. The first leg of this Champions League quarter-final ended 1-1 at Stamford Bridge and Arsenal went a goal up in the return at Highbury through Jose Antonio Reyes before Frank Lampard equalised in the second half.
This was the first season Chelsea had under the ownership of Roman Abramovich and they’d spent big in search of glory, England left-back Bridge one of the signings. In the 87th minute he came forward down the left with the ball and rolled it inside to teammate Eidur Gudjohnsen. The striker laid the ball off first-time into the path of Bridge who’d continued his run and he slotted a composed finish into the corner of the net beyond onrushing goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.
Chelsea were through to the semi-finals, they ended a 18-game winless run against their London rivals and their fans went wild as did manager Claudio Ranieri.
9. Lionel Messi and Xavi – Barcelona v Real Madrid, La Liga 2010
Barcelona are sweeping all before them with some swashbuckling football at times, a highlight this season has been their 5-0 demolition of great rivals Real Madrid at the Nou Camp. Last season they also beat them at the Bernabeu 3-0, the first goal an example of the swift play they’re capable of.
In the 32nd minute Lionel Messi picked the ball up midway in the Madrid half from a quick free-kick and after bringing it forward he passed inside to Xavi. Messi carried on running and first-time his team-mate clipped a delightful lobbed pass over the top of the defence to him. The Argentine controlled it and knocked the ball under Iker Casillas to give Barcelona the lead.
8: Denis Irwin and Eric Cantona – Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League 1993
The second goal in United’s 4-1 win over Spurs in the first Premier League season was an excellent one-two between full-back Denis Irwin and Eric Cantona. Irwin received the ball from Mark Hughes and played it square to Cantona. The Tottenham defence pushed out and Cantona dinked the ball over them into the path of Irwin, who collected the ball and rifled it high into the net beyond Erik Thorstvedt. Great vision and understanding between the two which you can see exactly 8 minutes into this clip.
7: Falcão – Internacional v Atletico Minero, Copa Brasil semi-final 1976
Paulo Roberto Falcão was one of the great Brazilian midfielders of 1970’s and 1980’s, playing at two World Cups and having a fine spell in Europe for Roma. However this goal comes from his playing days in his homeland for International in the semi-finals of the Brazilian Cup, set up by a unique kind of one-two.
In the final minute of the game, 20 yards from goal the ball is nodded toward Falcão. He heads it back to his team-mate, who returns the favour, heading forwards where Falcão’s carried on his run. As the ball drops in front of him, the midfielder instantly pokes a volley home beyond the grasp of the goalkeeper to put Internacional into the final. Who says the Brazilians like playing it across the floor?
6: Hristo Stoichkov and Romario, Barcelona v Manchester United, Champions League Group Stages 1994
What a strikeforce Barcelona had in the early 90’s, with the prolific Romario and Stoichkov leading the line. In 1994 Manchester United went to the Nou Camp and were thoroughly trounced 4-0 in one of their first appearances in the Champions League.
The third Barca goal was a classy effort. Catching United on the breakaway, Hristo Stoichkov carried the ball forward down the left and brought it inside as he neared the penalty area. Strike partner Romario was running across the defence and Stoichkov passed the ball to him. With his first touch the Brazilian laid the ball off behind him to an acute angle, where Stoichkov came onto it and rifled a precise left-footed shot into the far corner of the net.
5: Manuel Negrete and Javier Aguirre – Mexico v Bulgaria, World Cup Second Round 1986
At World Cup ’86 hosts Mexico boasted a front line comprising of Manuel Negrete, Javier Aguirre (the current Mexico boss) and the outstanding Hugo Sanchez, and it was the first two combined spectacularly for the opening goal in their second round victory over Bulgaria.
In the 35th minute the ball was played forward to Negrete, who brought it under control and with his third touch knocked it to Aguirre on the edge of the box. Aguirre first-time volleyed it back to Negrete who produced an instant scissor kick volley in mid-air which flew past the goalkeeper. An excellent goal all round.
4: Franz Beckenbauer and Uwe Seeler – West Germany v Switzerland, World Cup Group Stage 1966
Two of Germany’s all-time football greats combine well during the 1966 World Cup. A twenty-year old Beckenbauer had broken into the West German side two years before as an attacking midfielder – scoring seven goals in his first thirteen appearances. Throughout the course of his career he moved back to become a world-class sweeper, but this goal shows what he could do at the other end of the pitch.
Helmut Haller passed the ball square to Beckenbauer bombing toward the Swiss penalty area, who played it with the outside of his foot to Uwe Seeler. ‘Der Kaiser’ kept on running and Seeler found him with a quick return ball. With defenders giving chase Beckenbauer took it in his stride with one touch, and with another slotted it calmly past the goalkeeper, a great goal.
3: Thomas Brolin and Martin Dahlin – Sweden v England, European Championship Group Stages 1992
A fine goal as a series of one-two’s carved open Graham Taylor’s England at Euro ’92. Hosts Sweden played England in their final group game with the winners progressing to the semi-finals, and it was England who had the perfect start early on as David Platt gave them the lead. In the second half Jan Eriksson squeezed a header home to equalise for the Swedes, before influential midfielder Tomas Brolin scored a great team goal.
He picked the ball up near the halfway line and played a swift one-two with Klas Ingesson, before playing another with striker Martin Dahlin. From 18 yards out Brolin latched onto the return pass and placed the ball into the top corner of the net beyond Chris Woods. Graham Taylor made the infamous decision to take off captain and talisman Gary Lineker and England went on to lose – the England manager’s head to be imposed onto a turnip in the papers the following day. Take nothing away from the goal, which was an excellent move.
2. Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke – Manchester United v Barcelona, Champions League Group Stages 1998
Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke struck up a frightening strike partnership during three years at Old Trafford, their goals in particular contributing heavily to the trophies collected during the treble winning season of 1998/99. Early on in that Champions League campaign they met Barcelona in the group stages and in the Nou Camp avenged the Stoichkov-Romario one-two of four years earlier with one just as good, if not better.
Roy Keane knocked the ball toward Yorke who dummied and let it run through his legs to Andy Cole. Cole passed it quickly to Yorke and he played it back first time to Cole – who was through on goal and finished with applom into the bottom corner. A brilliant give-and-go which cut through the Barcelona defence at great speed, so simple yet effective.
1: Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles – Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United, League Cup second-round first leg 1979
This one-two is brilliant not just for the touch to set the goal up, but the execution of the strike from Glenn Hoddle. The midfielder was arguably the most technically gifted England midfielder of his generation and should’ve easily collected more than the 53 caps he received for the Three Lions.
The goal against Manchester United is a special one. A free-kick is played low toward the far edge of the penalty area where Hoddle taps it inside to Argentine Ossie Ardiles. With the defence confused he knocks a delicate ball back out to Hoddle who strikes the ball mid-air brilliantly. With both feet off the ground, his volley goes in and comes back out off the stanchion – such is the force of the hit. Great technique from both Hoddle and Ardiles.