Toppo’s Top Tens – Goals from the halfway line

This week’s top ten is inspired by one man – Dejan Stankovic. Last night the Inter Milan midfielder scored within one minute of his side’s Champions League quarter-final against Schalke 04 with a wonderfully executed volley 50 yards from goal, one hell of a strike.

A rarity in football, goals from the halfway line are nigh on impossible usually as it’s believed in most cases that you’ll never beat the goalkeeper from such a distance, however it is possible and can leave the man between the sticks red-faced. You have to admire the skill and audacity of anyone who tries to score from 50 yards, especially if they pull it off.

10: Nayim v Arsenal

A goal that apparently fans of Tottenham Hotspur still sing about to this day. The 1995 Cup Winners’ Cup final saw holders Arsenal meet Spanish side Real Zaragoza in the Parc des Princes. The match was 1-1 as the clock ticked past 119 minutes and as extra-time couldn’t separate the sides it seemed a penalty shootout would.

The ball was half-cleared with a header toward midfielder (and former Spurs favourite) Nayim who chested it down, let it bounce and then swung his right foot through the ball. It rose high into the Paris sky and looked innocuous, but it began to drop and as Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman chased it back toward goal he could only help it on it’s way into the net. Heartbreak for the Gunners in the most unexpected of ways. Admittedly Nayim hits it a few yards in front of the halfway line, but the manner of the strike means it gets a mention.

9: Rivaldo v Atletico Madrid

Brazilian international Rivaldo was capable of some inspirational moments throughout his playing career and this goal is one of them. In a La Liga match against Atletico Madrid, the Barcelona man picked the ball up in the centre circle and from directly on halfway, took two touches and lobbed the goalkeeper who was miles off his line.

8: Nawef Al Abed v Al Shaloah

A bit of a hidden gem from Saudi Arabia and a goal which is belived to be one of the quickest ever scored. Directly from kick off in a match between Al Hilal and Al Shaloah, Hilal’s striker Nawef Al Abed punted the ball fully 50 yards over the goalkeeper and into the net. While the goalie was left stunned, Al Abed and his teammates celebrated in style.

7: Roberto Soldado v Levante

Osasuna player Roberto Soldaldo treats us to a peach of a goal here from La Liga in 2007. Having collected the ball in midfield, Soldado tricks his way past the defender who then clings on to his shirt attempting to challenge him. Despite the close attentions of his marker, Soldado spots the goalkeeper out of his goal and pings a 55 yard lob which flies over his head and in, superb.

6: David Beckham v Wimbledon

The goal which kickstarted the career of a young English midfielder from Essex. David Beckham established himself in Manchester United’s young side during the 1995/96 season and on the first day of the following campaign grabbed the headlines. United were away at Selhurst Park playing Wimbledon and in the second half with the warm August sun beaming down, Beckham chipped the ball from just inside the Wimbledon half over the head of a flailing Neil Sullivan in goal.

The 21-year-old announced himself to the world with the strike and within two weeks he made his debut for England against Moldova.

5: Jose Luis Chilavert v River Plate

The Paraguay goalkeeper famous not only for keeping out goals but scoring spectacular ones too. Chilavert was a threat from a dead-ball situation and this goal is by far his best. His team Velez Sarsfield were playing River Plate in 1996 and won a free-kick inside their own half close to the halfway line. A teammate was laying on the floor in pain after a tackle and with everyone else on the pitch distracted, Chilavert ran forward and thumped the ball 50 yards downfield and into the net, with the stunned goalkeeper following it in not long after.

4: Roger Garcia v Rayo Vallecano

I’m a big fan of this goal for many reasons. The way Roger Garcia runs onto the ball in his own half, gets his head down and first-time wallops it at goal is brilliant, as is the flat trajectory that sends it flying into the back of the net. What’s even more brilliant is the goalkeeper’s futile Superman dive as the ball sails beyond his grasp. A fine goal.

3: Xabi Alonso, Liverpool v Luton Town

One of the most memorable FA Cup ties of recent years saw Liverpool defeat Luton Town 5-3 at Kenilworth Road in 2005 and it was capped off by a moment of inspiration from Xabi Alonso. The Spanish midifelder had already helped his side turn a 3-1 half-time defecit around to lead 4-3 with 93 minutes on the clock. Luton goalkeeper Marlon Beresford went upfield for a set piece but the ball was cleared and Alonso, having rounded the goalkeeper in his own half, curled a precise left-footed shot at goal from 60 yards which rolled into the empty net.

But he didn’t stop there – two years later he was at it again. Liverpool were playing Newcastle United in the league at Anfield and with the score 1-0 to the Reds with 13 minutes to go, Alonso had the ball in his own half, 60 yards from goal. Spotting goalkeeper Steve Harper off his line, Alonso unleashed a fierce strike which beat the stumbling goalie all ends up. This also makes the Spaniard probably the only man ever to score a goal from inside his own half with both feet.

2: Maynor Figueroa v Stoke City

Wigan Athletic full-back Maynor Figueroa was awarded the coveted BBC Match of the Day goal of the season for 2009/10 for this effort in a 2-2 draw away at Stoke City in December 2009. Wigan won a free kick inside their own half yards from the halfway line. Rather than chip it forward 30 yards toward the strikers, Honduran international Figueroa went the whole hog and spanked the ball straight into the top corner of the net. The ball flew like a bullet as Stoke ‘keeper Thomas Sorensen was left floundering.

1: Dejan Stankovic v Schalke 04

And finally the goal which inspired this list as Dejan Stankovic put his team into an early 1-0 lead in the Champions League quarter-finals with a special volley. 22 seconds into the first leg, Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer raced out of his penalty area to head away a long ball forward. His header fell to Inter midfielder Stankovic near the halfway line, who volleyed it first time over everyone into the empty net. The technique of the strike is impressive as Stankovic has to react quickly to hits the ball at waist height and generate the power to send it at goal. A brilliant effort.

But he’s done it before. In a league match away at Genoa in 2009, Inter were 2-0 ahead in first-half stoppage time. The Genoa goalkeeper brought the ball outside his area to launch it upfield, however he miscued his clearance and it went straight towards Stankovic who was standing just in front of the halfway line, to the right of the centre circle. The midfielder unleashed a first-time volley at full stretch and the ball flew towards goal, took a bounce and went in. Again you have to admire the audacity and execution of the volley which certainly rivals the one against Schalke 04.

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