Ranking the 30 Best Goals of 2013
The Christmas period is a time to be thankful, so when better to look back and celebrate the scoring exploits of our stars from the past 12 months?
We've scoured the archives, rediscovering many a thronker, worldy and any other slang term equating to "very, very good goal."
Whether it's a superbly executed piece of team synchronisation, blink-of-the-eye magic or other marvellous mode of putting the ball in the back of the net, 2013's most memorable finishes have been bundled here for your browsing pleasure.
Of course, a list containing this much quality will find that many of those goals comprised are interchangeable, so let us know your thoughts in the forum below as we see the year out and look forward to a 2014 made up of even bigger belters.
Honourable Mention: Franck Ribery's 'Weak' Foot
It's no wonder how Frank Ribery was elected European Player of the Year with finishing technique like this.
The Ballon d'Or finalist teamed up smartly with other "Robbery" half Arjen Robben involved in the play, latching onto a Philipp Lahm cross on the final day of the 2012/13 Bundesliga campaign.
As if the finish wasn't good enough, it's also worth remembering that the Frenchman is predominantly right-footed.
The reaction of Borussia Monchengladbach manager Lucien Favre says it all.
30. Cleiton Xavier's 2nd Bite of the Cherry
"If at first you don't succeed, surprise everyone in attendance by scoring one of the best goals of the calendar year."
At least that's how the saying goes in Cleiton Xavier's mind, the Metalist Kharkiv playmaker showing against Vorskla in April just how much perseverance can pay off.
After thumping his initial 25-yard free-kick effort into the wall, the Brazilian is fortunate enough to get a second snap at the ball, combining technique, accuracy and power in abundance to leave Evgen Budnik grasping at air.
29. Diego Costa's Snap Decision
Barely a month old, this effort from Diego Costa ranks as just one more piece of evidence as to why Atletico Madrid will be alright without Radamel Falcao.
Overhead kick finishes usually have the benefit of descending downwards upon their targets, although never are easy to finish, per se.
However, on this occasion against Getafe, Gabi's cross in toward his Brazilian teammate was fast, lateral and beginning to ebb away from the opponent's goal.
Costa quickly reacts to the trajectory of the cross with his back to goal, using his and his marker's shape to cloud any hopes that Miguel Angel Moya may have had in preventing this superb strike.
28. Luc Castaignos Defies the Laws of Physics
To make it at the elite level of football, a staggering amount of skill is required, but there's also something to be said for the influence of luck.
Luc Castaignos was once billed as one of Holland's hottest prospects but has gone off the boil in the last two seasons.
That being said, the 21-year-old will put himself back on the star map in no time as long as he can keep grabbing goals in as superlative a manner as this angled finish.
We'll leave it up for debate as to whether the shot was intentional or not.
27. Rot-Weiss Essen's Genius Set Piece
If there's anything football has taught us down the years, it's that everyone's a sucker for an obscure set-piece routine.
German fourth-tier side Rot-Weiss Essen provided us with this year's most laughable against Fortuna Dusseldorf II, Konstantin Fring being the man with the honour of finishing it off.
The being said, Fring genuinely couldn't have pulled off such an entertaining finish were it not for his teammates, so it's only right that the four other pranksters involved be praised for their well-executed innovation.
26. Troy Deeney's End-to-End Extravaganza
As amazing for the drama surrounding it as the finish itself, Vicarage Road became a veritable melting pot of emotion upon witnessing Troy Deeney's 97th-minute play-off semi-final winner against Leicester City.
Manuel Almunia's double-penalty save at one end of the pitch started a counter-attack of epic proportions, Watford needing just 19 seconds to get the ball from their own six-yard box into the back of the opposition's net.
Deeney gets everything right amidst the madness and although his side would go on to lose against Crystal Palace at Wembley in the play-off final, no Watford fan will forget his extra-time lifeline in a hurry.
25. Djimi Traore's 30-Yard Screamer
Yes, you are reading that right: Ex-Liverpool, Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic defender Djimi Traore scored one of the best goals in 2013.
And never again is the former Malian international likely to scorch home a sweeter strike than the one celebrated against Tigres in March.
Never exactly known for his scoring ability, this "typical" centre-back goal is made all the better by the fact that it put the Seattle Sounders on their way to a 3-1 win over Tigres.
Crashing its way in off the upright, the ball seems to beam on forever as it darts into the top left corner of the goal, a rare moment of brilliance from one of the least likely sources.
24. Zlatan Ibrahimovic Takes the Direct Route
One of two Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals to have made the 2013 rundown, the Swedish superstar's first entry has no bells or whistles adorning it but is a simple demonstration of power if nothing else.
Anderlecht were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a hat-trick courtesy of the Paris Saint-Germain sensation, this 30-yard barnstormer being the pick of the bunch.
Even when the veteran isn't the most advanced figure in his side's attack, Ibrahimovic shows that he doesn't have to be in the box, or anywhere near it for that matter, to pose a threat on goal.
23. Youssef Msakni's Extra-Time Winner vs. Algeria
Tunisia's 2013 African Cup of Nations wasn't a soaring success, but Youssef Msakni's last-minute winner against Algeria certainly was.
Starting just inside the opponent's half, the Eagles of Carthage link up in succinct and to-the-point fashion, even managing to sprinkle a few intricate twists and spins in along the way.
However, it's the finish that Msakni supplies from 25 yards out that we're focusing on here, the midfielder cutting inside before unleashing a pinpoint peach of the highest quality.
It's not all that easy to bend it into the top corner from long range, but Msakni would have us believe otherwise.
22. Camilo Da Silva's Scissor-Kick Sizzler
Camilo da Silva stood out as the Vancouver Whitecaps' talismanic presence in front of goal over the course of the 2013 MLS season, and it's thanks to sparks of magic such as this that the Brazilian is such a valued commodity in Canada.
Showing all the flair that his native country has become known for down the years, Camilo launched an acrobatic assault on the Portland Timbers' goal that, by all rights, shouldn't have threatened as much given that he's nearly at the edge of the opposition's box.
However, the scissor-kick cannon scythes its way into the bottom right corner of the visitors' goal, Donovan Ricketts left sprawling all too late.
21. Peter Ankersen Bags from an Impossible Angle
If the aforementioned finish from Castaignos was contentious in terms of intent, let there be no doubt that Peter Ankersen most certainly meant to finish this chance off.
The Esbjerg full-back broke forward from his defensive confines to find a run inside the right flank against Aarhus GF in August before unleashing one of the most venomous finishes he's ever likely to produce.
All it takes is one chested piece of control from Ankersen to get the ball back into his flight path before an acute shot is flashed across goal, evading the Aarhus stopper to round off the 5-1 triumph in style.
20. Paul Pogba Volleyed Finish vs. Napoli
Paul Pogba's emphatic 2013 sees him claim two entries on this list, the first of which came in a 3-0 win over Napoli and provided the pick of Juventus' bunch.
Planted outside the Azzurri's area, the Frenchman's first touch is sublime in the way it props the ball up for the midfielder, the words "hit me" etched all over it.
Pogba kindly obliges, and although the volley could have been struck slightly sweeter, calling the finish simply sufficient would be a massive injustice, with Pepe Reina no small figure to beat from that distance.
19. Luis Suarez's Merseyside Derby Free-Kick
In what was very arguably one of the highlight matches of 2013, it's only right that one of the most fearsome strikers in the world rammed home one of the best finishes of the year in this season's first Merseyside derby.
Say that three times fast.
The Uruguayan international has been responsible for a lot of superb stunners over the last 12 months, but it's uncharacteristically a set piece that features as his brightest moment, bent around the base of the Everton wall from all of 30 yards or so.
The Huffington Post captures the set-piece solo effort from a scrumptious camera angle, which would give the visiting Reds an initial 2-1 lead over their local rivals.
18. Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Back-Heel Special
Were it any other striker in the world, one might question whether or not such a supremely cool score was in fact intentional, but this isn't just any striker.
Ibrahimovic's second contribution to this list came in a 4-0 thumping of Bastia earlier in the 2013/14 campaign, showcasing a contrasting set of skills to the Swede's previously mentioned goal.
Displaying great strength alongside wonderful awareness, and more than a little bit of top-class technique, PSG once again benefit from the forward's individual brilliance, this time thanks to a back-heeled scorpion kick, the likes of which one simply doesn't see every day.
17. Khalfan Ibrahim Nets Sensational Solo Stunner
Although the Qatari speedster undoubtedly benefits from some pretty sorry defending, Khalfan Ibrahim's one-man demolition of Al Rayyan back in April isn't to be understated in terms of quality.
The Al-Sadd striker sprints forth from well inside his own half, beating no less than five opposing players along the way in Maradona-esque fashion.
This is all before the 2013 Qatari Football Association Player of the Year keeps his head on a swivel right when it's needed most, skimming his staggered shot across goal to cap off the 65-metre dribble with a sizzling climax.
16. Daniel Luduena's 70-Yard Blockbuster
One can argue the value of long-range efforts such as this, saying that scoring from inside one's own half is all too often as a result of bad defence more than solid attacking.
However, Pachuca playmaker Daniel Luduena shows that there's a certain genius to the long-range lob, evading one pressuring opponent with a beautiful pirouette before striking the ball past the Tigres goalkeeper from a gargantuan 70 yards.
No big deal.
15. Robin Van Persie's over-the-Shoulder Volley Helps Seal '12/13 Premier League
Give Robin van Persie a moment of space on his left foot and he's capable of punishing you for it.
Aston Villa learned this the hard way near the climax of last season's Premier League campaign, where all it took was a perfectly weighted ball from Wayne Rooney for the Manchester United striker to blast home one of the most well-timed volleys one's likely to see.
101GreatGoals captured the moment that helped the Red Devils bring the 2012/13 Premier League title to Old Trafford, with an effort that's summarised best with just one word: laces.
14. Carlos Bacca's Close Control Leads to Wondrous Volley
With his back to goal during a January friendly against Feyenoord, Club Brugge attacker Carlos Bacca does the logical thing and simply takes the ball into his feet, turning and looping the ball precisely past the opposing goalkeeper without so much time to blink.
Sounds simple enough, no?
Except that the Colombian forward was actually a good 40 metres or so from the Feyenoord goal, and the fact that the ball wasn't allowed to touch the floor before being lashed home just makes it all the more impressive.
It's moments of wizardry such as this that helped earn Bacca a move to Sevilla over the summer, the La Liga outfit clearly looking to recapture similar form on Spanish shores.
13. Neymar's Half-Volley Belter
Although it may have made the final three in this year's Puskas Award shortlist, Neymar's half-volley against Japan in the 2013 Confederations Cup can't even crack our top 10.
That's not to devalue the Brazilian bruiser's wonder strike in any way, as the effort assuredly contains a sufficient amount of venom to make it worthy of the highlight reel.
The Barcelona starlet is more well known for his intricate phases and close control when dribbling, but this particular finish was a finer example of Neymar's potential when it comes to a more heavy-handed approach.
12. Vieirinha Almost Breaks the Net
This is what one would call making something out of nothing.
Against Freiburg back in March, Wolfsburg winger Vieirinha thundered home a volley of mammoth proportions just when it seemed his side had lost their stride upon the opponent's goal.
Diego's poor free-kick was a rudimentary clearance for the Freiburg defence, but Vieirinha gleefully showed that an assist doesn't necessarily have to come from a member of one's own team.
11. Jair Benitez Spots 50-Yard Opportunity
Another long-range lump from Major League Soccer comes courtesy of Jair Benitez of FC Dallas, who didn't really see much point in taking the scenic route against Vancouver during a September clash.
Rather than deal with the complexities of dribbling, passing or any of that other malarkey, the Colombian looks up, sees the opposing No. 1 off his line and sweetly strikes home this thumper to give his team a 3-1 lead, not to mention net arguably the finest finish of his career as a left-back.
10. Pajtim Kasami Does the 'Simple' Thing
Chest. Volley. Goal.
This October, Pajtim Kasami gave us a wonderfully short demonstration of how football can become so overly complicated at times and how if one doesn't buy a ticket, one can't win the raffle.
Against Crystal Palace, the Czech midfielder most certainly bought a ticket and won the top prize in as extravagant a manner as he could have hoped, as 101GreatGoals shows.
Just about weaving his way into our top 10, Kasami needed only two touches to make a difference against the Eagles, chesting a chipped ball into his path before thrashing a half-volley at Julian Speroni's goal, the outcome being stupendous.
9. Nemanja Matic's Puskas Award Nomination
Another entrant to have made the Puskas Award shortlist this year came in a Portuguese derby of titanic context, Benfica and Porto each jousting for Liga Primeira dominance prior to their January encounter in Lisbon.
After the visitors had taken a lead at the Estadio da Luz, Nemanja Matic managed to get on the end of a flowing one-touch sequence, uncharacteristically netting a world-class finish, and at the most essential of moments no less.
From a Lorenzo Melgarejo cross, some head tennis is brought to an abrupt end by Matic, who casually intervenes to fire an unstoppable left-footed volley past Helton, who is helplessly rooted to the spot.
8. Jack Wilshere Finishes Superb Arsenal Passing Sequence
Alongside Kasami's aforementioned strike, Jack Wilshere's finish against Norwich City in October threw up early whispers for EPL goal of the season and just about edges its fellow contender in terms of quality.
It's a finely balanced argument between what makes a better goal: a brief moment of individual brilliance, or a team temporarily united in hive mind-like fluidity for a perfect passing passage?
Wilshere's score against the Canaries was a superb example of the latter, and as 101GreatGoals shows, the Gunners anchor managed to get on the end of one-touch play that had Arsenal written all over it.
On this occasion, Wilshere teams up with Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla to destructive effect, the end result being a strike that will likely be remembered as one of Wilshere's finest.
7. Paul Pogba's Impossible Curve
If Pogba's previous entry wasn't caught to perfection, this strike against Udinese most definitely was, and it's only fitting that a fan was on hand to capture the Frenchman's ridiculous swerving effort from the best seat in the house.
Picking the ball up 25 yards from goal, Pogba's mind is transfixed nowhere else other than on Daniele Padelli's goal, with no prizes awarded for guessing exactly where it ended up.
The young midfielder managed to put two past the Udine outfit in this January clash, but given the magnificent flight pattern of the ball before finally tipping the bar and heading in, that makes this goal just that much sweeter.
6. Stephanie Roche Shows a Full Set of Skills
A sole female candidate in the 2013 rundown, Stephanie Roche flies the flag for girl power in a major way thanks to this October golazo.
The Peamount United striker wouldn't let one think that women are in any way behind their male counterparts when it comes to technique, effortlessly taking the ball into her core before juggling the ball over her head. What happens next is just staggering.
Demonstrating extremely tight control on both feet, Roche then shows off her acute touch when it comes to volleys, slamming a monstrous effort past the opposing goalkeeper that any elite stopper would find nigh impossible to keep out.
5. Antoine Griezmann's Long-Range Bicycle Kick
Antoine Griezmann's ascendance as one of France's finest wing talents is coming along smoothly, but it's the speedster's increasing value in front of goal that's perhaps most encouraging about his development.
The 22-year-old displayed in a Champions League qualifier against Lyon back in August just how well this aspect of his play is coming along, a bicycle kick from just inside the Ligue 1 team's area not being in the average winger's box of tricks.
Executing the overhead kick in ideal conditions can often be difficult. Doing so as one makes a dart into the box, having to adjust quickly before scissoring home to perfection being just another way of getting things done.
4. Hernando Parino Keeps It Down
As an aspiring footballer, the art of keeping a volley down is one that many a young professional doesn't quite get right, the temptation to sacrifice precision for power often taking over the senses in clutch moments of madness.
However, Hernando Parino's expertly struck missile against Alianza in March shows that the 40-year-old has nothing if not experience to his name, time that's apparently been spent hitting a thumbtack in the same spot from 30 yards.
The best thing about this goal is that the Deportes Quindio midfielder was so far out from goal that the Alianza goalkeeper saw it coming the whole way.
Did that help him in stopping the blockbuster? Not a jot.
3. Korhan Ozturk's Cross-Goal Volley
Far from the heights of the Champions League and other prestigious competitions though it might be, the Turkish second tier is still capable of as much brilliance as any other football arena.
Take Korhan Ozturk, for example, a central midfielder for Altay Izmir, who in March of this year was going about his business and making a rudimentary run down the right flank when all of a sudden this piece of athletic prowess was put on show for all to see.
Quite simply, Ozturk shows that technique is indeed everything, and as a sweeping pass from the left flank was raked across his front, the anchor responded with a right-footed volley of a quality that any player could consider themselves proud of.
2. Antonio Di Natale Gets His Basics Down to a Tee
And as if one across-the-body belter wasn't enough to satiate one's volleying needs, Antonio Di Natale was on hand against Chievo in April to give his peers a masterclass in connection.
Roberto Pereyra's searching cross from the right wing is satisfactory at best, with not many at the Stadio Friuli perhaps expecting what was to come.
However, the Udinese veteran kindly turns his teammate's ball from something distinctly average into another quality altogether, the end product being nothing short of spectacular.
Cutting across the face of goal from a tight angle, Di Natale pings his shot off the post and in, making the most out of an opportunity that few others would have even realised was there.
1. Juan Manuel Oliveira's Tiki-Taka Volley
And here we are.
Though it may have missed out on the final three-goal shortlist for this year's Puskas Award, Juan Manuel Olivera's thunderbolt finish against Sport in August gets the nod in our books.
Everything one could desire in a great goal is on display here. Fine buildup play is followed by a series of delightful one-touch passes before a well-placed header follows up to assist something not so delicate.
Olivera's volley finds its way into the top corner and is an all-the-more abrupt ending to what's otherwise a superbly subtle goal, but the key elements throughout are what make this finish so memorable as a whole.
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