The UEFA Champions League is the biggest club competition in Europe, and for many it’s the biggest competition in the world. Some of the greatest ever players have made their made their mark on the Champions League and some have crumbled under the immense pressure. Real Madrid have mastered the Champions League, no team has won it more than their 11 times, AC Milan coming closest with 7.
Not only are some of the greatest performances seen in the Champions League but also some of the greatest goals. Whether it’s a 30-yard volley in qualifying or a well-worked tiki-taka goal in the final, goals in the Champions League can be the biggest moment of a player’s career. For some, they are lucky enough to score in the final of the UEFA Champions League and some are lucky enough to score the best goals of their career on the biggest of all stages. Here are the best 5 Champions League Final goals…
5. Vladimir Smicer vs AC Milan, 2005
On that night in Istanbul, the greatest night in the history of Liverpool FC, 25th May 2005. The game was over at half-time, Liverpool were 3-0 down and had been on the receiving end of one of the greatest ever first-half performances in European football history. Surely there was no way back for the Reds. In the 54th minute, Gerrard pulled one back from the spot.
Two minutes later, Alonso passed the ball to Hamman who then rolled the ball to a certain Vladimir Smicer 30 yards out. And as he took one touch to set himself up, no one expected him to let fly. But he rifled a low shot into the far corner with a powerful right-footed drive. Dida was at full stretch and could still do nothing to stop the shot from finding the corner. 5 minutes later and Liverpool drew level, they went onto win on penalties, Jerzy Dudek was the hero and it went down as Liverpool’s greatest night.
4. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer vs Bayern Munich, 1999
Another great European night for one of the English clubs, and again they had to come from behind against yet another European giant. The Nou Camp in Barcelona was the venue and Bayern Munich were the opponents. Manchester United went behind after just 6 minutes, Mario Basler silenced the United fans as he struck a 25-yard free-kick past Peter Schmeichel. For the next 85 minutes Sir Alex Ferguson’s side stayed behind and looked like their night would end in devastation.
With 91 minutes on the clock, Bayern looked certain to hold on but as Ryan Giggs shot from the edge of the box, Teddy Sheringham saw an opportunity. As the ball bounced, he rolled it home into Oliver Kahn’s bottom corner. It looked certain for extra-time but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided otherwise. In the 93rd minute, David Beckham stepped up for a corner, Sheringham was once again quickest to react flicking the ball across the box. The ball dropped at the feet of Solskjaer, who lifted the ball into the roof of Kahn’s net and the rest is history.
3. Hernan Crespo vs Liverpool, 2005
Another goal from Liverpool’s unbelievable comeback in Instanbul and this time, but this time, one of AC Milan’s goals: the goal that put them 3-0 up against the Reds. After Paolo Maldini’s opening goal after just one minute of action and then Hernan Crespo’s 39th minute goal, it was time for Crespo to make it 3-0. On the stroke of half-time, Liverpool were lucky to be going into the break at only 2-0 after being destroyed for the whole of the first half but Crespo made sure it wasn’t just 2-0.
Kaka received the ball just inside AC Milan’s half and turned Steven Gerrard with ease. HE took one touch and then played one of the greatest passes in the history of football through to Hernan Crespo. The ball was played along the surface from the halfway line all the way to the edge of Liverpool’s penalty area and as Crespo got hold of it, he played a delightful chip over the onrushing Jerzy Dudek. Unfortunately, AC Milan couldn’t hold on to the 3-0 lead.
2. Steve McManaman vs Valencia, 2000
The scene was the Stade de France in front of 80,000 people and the teams were two Spanish heavyweights, Valencia and the tournament’s most successful team, Real Madrid. Real Madrid went into the game as huge favourites and they didn’t disappoint. Valencia held strong for 39 minutes but then Fernando Morientes broke the deadlock with a bullet header and Los Blancos went in to half-time at 1-0.
Half way into the second half and Real Madrid were started to apply more and more pressure onto the Valencia backline and as a looping Roberto Carlos throw-in made its way into the box, something that has gone down in Champions League history happened. The throw-in was headed clear and out of the Valencia penalty area, but Steve McManaman was running to meet it. He connected with a glorious scissor-kick and left Santiago Canizares completely routed to the spot. That made the game 2-0 and a Raul goal less than 10 minutes made it 3-0 and put the game beyond Valencia’s reach.
1. Zinedine Zidane vs Bayer Leverkusen, 2002
There’s only one goal that could’ve ever came first in this list and it’s from a certain Zinedine Zidane, you know manages the team that he scored this outrageous goal for, Real Madrid. As Bayer Leverkusen and Real Madrid faced off in Glasgow’s Hampden Park, Los Blancos once again went into the game as favourites and once again, they came out on top. After 8 minutes, another Champions League Final goal from Raul but them 1-0 to the good. Only 5 minutes later and Brazilian legend, Lucio, brought the game back to 1-1 but the next goal was one worthy of winning any major final.
Another Brazilian, Roberto Carlos, played a major part in the winning goal and as he flew down Bayer Leverkusen’s right wing, Zizou positioned himself on the edge of the 18-yard box. Carlos plucked a bouncing ball out of the air and lofted towards Zidane on the edge of the box. The French wizard watched it all the way down and sent an unbelievable left-footed volley into the top corner. The goal is undoubtedly the greatest Champions League Final goal and one of the greatest ever to be scored in the competition.
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