As the year comes to an end, there’s plenty to reflect on with pleasure. Bayern Munich have superbly taken the mantle as the world’s finest club team, while Cristiano Ronaldo was scintillating throughout and produced one of the all-time great individual performances in securing Portugal a spot in the World Cup in a playoff against Sweden. As ever, there were also an abundance of goals that will live long in the memory. Here are 10 that particularly standout.
Jack Wilshere (ARSENAL Vs. Norwich City)
While some prefer the long-range missile, there’s something about a great team goal that truly embodies the beautiful game at its finest. Few come better than this effort from Wilshere. The young England midfielder starts the move deep in his own half before ending it after a sensational series of one-touch passes and flicks involving Olivier Giroud.
Juan Manuel Olivera (NAUTICO Vs. Sport Recife)
The finish alone from the much-traveled Uruguayan striker is pretty impressive, but what elevates it to a goal-of-the-year contender is the quick-fire one-two that comes before it. The defender is completely befuddled as the ball is played back and forth around and over him before a stunning volley sails into the net.
Antonio di Natale (UDINESE Vs. Chievo)
The tremendously gifted Udinese forward has been defying both age and his tiny frame for several years now. Indeed, the 36-year-old has hit more than 20 goals in Serie A for the past four seasons -- winning the prestigious Capocannoniere scoring title in two of those campaigns. This strike against Chievo last season is a contender for the best of the lot. With the ball coming a long way across the field and from an increasingly ridiculous angle, the veteran front man strikes a perfect volley to find the far corner of the net. The work of an under-appreciated master.
Nemanja Matic (BENFICA Vs. Porto)
Matic has thrived since trading Chelsea for Benfica in 2011 and this was perhaps his finest moment. The strike itself was of breathtaking quality. There was little reaction time for the young Serbian and it is hard to overestimate the difficulty involved in striking a ball so cleanly that arrived at him near chest-height, never mind keeping it down and finding the top corner of the net. The fact that the goal came in a crucial match against Benfica’s title rivals, FC Porto, made it all the more impressive.
Daniel Luduena (PACHUCA Vs.Tigres)
The experienced Argentine-born midfielder only scored twice in his short stay at Pachuca, but that can hardly be held against him when one is as memorable as this effort. Looking up from inside his own half and seeing the Tigres goalkeeper off his line, Luduena tries a ridiculously ambitious effort from inside his own half, but gets it just about perfect to send it sailing into the net. Making the goal even better, was the little turn away from an opposition player to initially open up the space.
Everton Ribeiro (CRUZEIRO Vs. Flamengo)
This is a sublime strike from a man voted as the best player in this year’s Brasilerao. It is a goal reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne’s goal for England against Scotland in Euro ’96, but arguably tougher given the tighter space Ribeiro had to work in. After a lovely quick break down the right, the man now being linked with Manchester United lifts the ball over a helpless defender before meeting it flush on the volley and sending the ball careering into the roof of the net.
Pajtim Kasami (FULHAM Vs. Crystal Palace)
The Van-Basten-esque volley from a tight angle is something special in itself. What sets this strike from Fulham’s Swiss attacker apart, though, is the way he takes a chipped pass over his shoulder perfectly into his stride on his chest before unleashing the devastating finish.
Robin Van Persie (MANCHESTER UNITED Vs. Aston Villa)
There is so much to admire about this goal that completed Van Persie’s hat-trick in a match that confirmed Manchester United as Premier League champions. Wayne Rooney’s long pass was inch-perfect for Van Persie’s run and the Netherlands’ record goal-scorer met the ball over his shoulder first time to smash a volley into the net.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN Vs. Bastia)
There had to be at least one goal from Ibrahimovic in this list, indeed as there should be for any credible best-of selection. The question was which one. The pile-driver against Anderlecht deserves a very honorable mention, but this effort to against Bastia sums up the unique ability that the Swede possesses. His imposing physical stature enables him to hold off two defenders as a cross deflects toward him, but he then has the incredible invention and flexibility, honed by his black belt in taekwondo, to back-heel the ball above waste height into the corner of the net. An extraordinary footballer.
Luis Suarez (LIVERPOOL Vs. Norwich City)
There is an argument whether this was even the best goal by Suarez in this match, he scored four of them and each of them was superb. It is his hat-trick clinching strike, though, which gets the edge and warrants its place among the year’s finest. While perhaps not as spectacular as his earlier 40-yard effort in the massacre of Norwich, the technical skill of the Uruguayan to evade the challenges of defenders in such close confines, before producing an unstoppable effort into the corner of the net with almost no back list is awe-inspiring.