Golazos galore: the 25 best goals from the golden era of Serie A

first_imgGenoa Serie A’s unlikely top goalscorers: from Michel Platini to Luca Toni Read more Facebook Facebook Alvaro Recoba’s left foot had so much force it could have generated enough electricity for a small village. Not many footballers can claim to upstage Ronaldo at any point in their careers, let alone when making their first appearance in European football as a 21-year-old. Recoba belongs to an exclusive club of one. Thrown on with Inter losing 1-0 at home to newly promoted Brescia, the Uruguayan changed the match. To even contemplate shooting from that distance was outrageous, but Recoba specialised in the outrageous. He could score from anywhere inside the opposition’s half. The ball rockets – you will never find a goal that suits that word so well – into the top corner. To show that it was no fluke, five minutes later he majestically curled the ball into the other top corner from a similar distance. Alvaro Recoba, you wonderful, inconsistent little maverick.2) Zinedine Zidane, Reggina v JUVENTUS, 1999-2000A goal that contains all the hallmarks of classic Zinedine Zidane: the tight control, the delightful elegance, the spatial awareness and the ability to glide from his left foot to his right foot. The build-up is mesmerising: the outside-of-the-boot flick to Del Piero from the throw-in, the charge to the edge of the box, the way he drags the ball back and shifts it on to his left foot in one glorious movement while taking three Reggina defenders out of the game. The finish was also magnificent: an emphatic strike that gave the keeper no chance.1) Roberto Baggio, Juventus v BRESCIA, 2000-01 Share on Facebook Ronaldo at 40: Il Fenomeno’s legacy as greatest ever No9, despite dodgy knees Alvaro Recoba, the man with the electric left foo. Photograph: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters The cross from Francesco Moriero is marvellous but the goal is all about Ronaldo’s pace: that blistering, explosive, unhinged pace that defined this Ronaldo. Witnessing him during his golden period, which ended at the World Cup final, was a joy. As Moriero strikes the ball, Ronaldo is just about level with Ibrahim Ba and several yards behind Marcel Desailly. Yet, by the time he reaches the ball to lob it over the onrushing Sebastian Rossi, both players are in the dust. Other Ronaldo goals might have been technically superior but this one perfectly encapsulates pre-injury Ronaldo. Il Fenomeno indeed. Read more Share on Pinterest Read more Facebook Share on Messenger Internazionale Read more Pinterest Pinterest Share via Email Twitter How Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Lazio won the great Serie A title race of 1999-2000 Batistuta celebrates after scoring against Napoli. Photograph: Getty Images Read more Raw, animalistic, violent. Not words usually associated with brilliant footballers, but for Gabriel Batistuta, they’re completely warranted. He was the deadliest striker of the period by a long distance. His goals came by such brute force that you almost felt sympathy for the opposing goalkeeper standing in the way of the ball. With the possible exception of Siniša Mihajlović, nobody could strike a ball as ferociously as Batistuta. While Roberto Baggio would delicately place the ball into the corner of the net, as if gently twisting a knife into a person’s back, with Batistuta it felt like he was bludgeoning hapless goalkeepers over the head, time and again. Yet there was a beauty in the visceral brutality of his goals. Nobody could display unrelenting power quite like him.10) Andriy Shevchenko, MILAN v Juventus, 2001-02On first viewing this looks like a fluke, as if Andriy Shevchenko has just overhit a cross that accidentally looped over Gigi Buffon into the top corner. However, watch it several more times and you can clearly see he his intentions, for there was nobody to cross to.An overlooked facet of the Ukrainian’s game was his ability to skip past players; Shevchenko was deceptively fast and this goal epitomises his qualities more than most. He races away from a peak Edgar Davids and skips past Mark Iuliano and Gianluca Pessotto like he’s a kid on the school playground.He takes several glances up during all of this and places the ball in the only pocket of space available. No matter what became of Shevchenko during his time at Chelsea, which has sadly hurt his reputation on British shores, this was Sheva at his finest.9) Antonio Cassano, BARI v Inter, 1999-2000It’s difficult to think of a better debut goal as a professional player from any era in any league. The goal that catapulted the 17-year-old Antonio Cassano to superstardom and in turn heaped huge pressure on his slender shoulders from such a young age. The emotionally fragile player couldn’t cope with the expectations.Though the entire goal is full of genius, it’s really about Cassano’s opening three touches – from right heel to head to left foot – that exposes the sheer level of his innate talent. To pull off such fluid control while running at full speed and being pursued by two defenders on a muddy pitch is nothing short of miraculous. One can imagine Cassano scoring this goal repeatedly in front of the San Nicola church in the claustrophobic Bari Vecchia area of the city.8) Youri Djorkaeff, INTER v Roma, 1996-97The greatest bicycle kick of the age. The way Youri Djorkaeff manages to contort his body like an accordion in the direction of the goal, given that he was already positioned at an extremely tight angle and with a Roma defender racing towards him, let alone make such a perfect connection, is incredible.What wasn’t incredible was the initial mistake from Roma defender Fabio Petruzzi, inadvertently setting up the strike by clumsily attempting to clear the ball following Giorgio Sterchele’s save, leaving the ball hanging in the air.The following season Djorkaeff’s image – mid-contortion – was imprinted in the design of Inter’s season ticket.7) Christian Vieri, INTER v Parma, 1999-2000There were few finer strikers on the planet at the beginning of the 21st century than Christian Vieri. The burly Italian was very much a great goalscorer rather than a scorer of great goals, but this strike temporarily bucked that trend. Vieri did occasionally score the odd belter and this is probably the best goal of his nomadic career. How often can one say they made a mockery of the great Lilian Thuram before pinging the ball past Gigi Buffon into the top corner from outside the area? It was so good that even Roberto Baggio gave it an appreciative smile and clap. The ultimate stamp of approval if ever there was one.6) Roberto Mancini, Parma v LAZIO, 1998-99The peculiar thing about Roberto Mancini the manager is that he sends his teams out to play pragmatic football that is defensively sound and generally reactive. This goes against everything Mancini the player was: a swashbuckling No10 who floated around the pitch with style and panache. It’s an odd juxtaposition in the progression of Mancini from player to coach.The point is well illustrated by this goal against Parma. Not many players would have attempted something so radical, yet Mancini did. Not many could have pulled it off, but Mancini did. He doesn’t even look where the net is until after he’s connected with the ball. It’s an outrageous goal from a wonderful player.The disbelief on Christian Vieri’s face as he sprints over to join in the celebrations reinforces the sheer astonishment and ecstasy that moments such as this can bring, not only to fans but also players.Even Mancini the manager would have approved.5) Alessandro del Piero, v Fiorentina, 1994-95The goal that created a superstar and signalled the end of Roberto Baggio at Juventus. Juventus had nearly sold Alessandro del Piero to Parma the previous summer, only for fortunate circumstances to derail the move. It’s difficult now to imagine Del Piero playing in any other Serie A shirt than the black and white of Juve. Yet if it hadn’t have been for Dino Baggio changing his mind, history would have been so very different.While he made it look easy, it was anything but. As any player who has played the game at any level – even Sunday league – will attest, attempting a volley from a pass that’s coming from behind you is one of the most challenging skills there is. To pull it off while running is a mark of genius.4) Francesco Totti, v Parma, 1997-98 features Share on Twitter Twitter The touch. The Touch. The touch. “I was never satisfied with the easily scored goal,” Roberto Baggio once said. For a career that was criminally short on medals and trophies, he more than made up for it with improbable goals and moments of irrefutable genius. All 25 goals in this piece could have belonged to Baggio – the list would be as good, if not even better. No amount of words can do this goal justice. Just press play and marvel. Marvel at the pass the run, and the touch. It’s a work of art. Baggio was the defining player of this era. The best player throughout its entire stretch, he seemed to operate on an entirely different playing field to every footballer of the period.There have been very few players, then or since, who could manipulate the ball like Baggio. There wasn’t a type of goal missing from his repertoire; no goal was off limits. There are so many reasons why this goal is No1, but it always falls back to one thing: the touch.• This blog first appeared on The Gentleman Ultra• Follow Emmet Gates and The Gentleman Ultra on Twitter Share on LinkedIn On 6 November 1992, Channel 4 took a bold risk and went to Genoa to broadcast a Serie A match live for a British audience. Italian football had a reputation for being dull and defensive, but the players put on a show. Sampdoria and Lazio produced a stupendously entertaining 3-3 draw, with Beppe Signori and Roberto Mancini both on the scoresheet. A week later the cameras captured Milan’s 5-4 win over Pescara, which featured goals from Massimiliano Allegri, Paolo Maldini and Gianluigi Lentini, as well as a couple of own goals from Franco Baresi and a hat-trick from Marco van Basten.The viewers had been converted and they would remain hooked for the next decade. Below we have compiled the 25 best goals from the 10 years Football Italia was broadcast on Channel 4. To keep the list interesting, every player is limited to just one appearance – the entire 25 could have been by Roberto Baggio and Álvaro Recoba otherwise – and dead balls are denied entry.25) Marciano Vink, Sampdoria v GENOA, 1993-94You might be wondering who Marciano Vink is – and with good reason. The Dutch defender, who had to retire at the age of 28 due to injury, only spent one season in Italy, where he played a handful of games for Genoa before returning to the Netherlands. Vink’s middle name is Carlos Alberto and he channelled the legendary World Cup winner as he went on this mazy dribble past half of the Sampdoria team. He simply kept on running. The finish is a little underwhelming but the run was overwhelming. Share on WhatsApp Pinterest Francesco Totti in the Rome derby: his 11 goals for Roma against Lazio European club football Topics Serie A Lazio The great Ronaldo in his peak at Inter. Photograph: Allsport Twitter Milan A powerful header in a pulsating 4-4 draw at the Stadio Olimpico between the reigning champions and team who would take their crown. The cross from winger Sérgio Conceição was inch perfect, managing to find Marcelo Salas, the only Lazio player in Milan’s penalty box. The Chilean, who was at the peak of his career, used all of his neck muscles to plant the header past Christian Abbiati into the corner. The classic Uhlsport ball gives the goal extra nostalgic points.20) Paul Gascoigne, Pescara v LAZIO, 1992-93Paul Gascoigne merely showed glimpses of his talent during his troubled time in Italy. His first goal was an equaliser in the Rome derby; his next goal was classic Gascoigne. Picking the ball up in midfield, he slalomed his way through the Pescara defence, beating four players in a congested area just outside the penalty box before slotting the ball into the bottom corner. It was a reminder, amid all the controversy, anarchy and wisecracks, of what Gazza could do with a ball at his feet.19) Ronaldo, Milan v INTER, 1997-98 Guardian Sport Network Twitter 24) Massimo Agostini, Genoa v ANCONA, 1992-93There are a few bicycle kicks on this list, but this is the only time a bicycle kick sets up an overhead kick. This is a rare species of goal. The initial attempt from Felice Centofanti (a defender no less) was spectacular in itself – his execution was flawless – but it rattled off the crossbar and it was left to Massimo Agostini to go one better. The match ended in 4-4.23) Zvonimir Boban, Lecce v MILAN, 1993-94The silky Croatian’s first league goal for Milan was his finest. He controlled the ball instantly with his knee, deftly flicked it past an onrushing defender and then hit it. And hit it he did. Zvonimir Boban is a hugely underrated player. He had the misfortune of being surrounded by players who were either slightly more gifted or just more famous at Milan in the 1990s but that shouldn’t take away from his quality. This team went on to win the league and the Champions League nine months later.22) Márcio Amoroso, UDINESE v Parma, 1998-99The strike itself is beautiful but the key to the goal is Márcio Amoroso’s incredible agility. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, the Brazilian instantly controls it with his chest and immediately shifts it on to his left, turning defender Luigi Sartor inside out before lashing his shot past Gigi Buffon. Unsurprisingly, Parma signed Amoroso the following season but he would never again hit the heights of 1998-99, when he was top scorer in Serie A with Udinese.21) Marcelo Salas, LAZIO v Milan, 1999-2000 Roberto Baggio at 50: celebrating his five greatest free-kicks 18) Gianluca Vialli, Cremonese v JUVENTUS, 1994-95Gianluca Vialli is as close to an overhead kick specialist as you’ll find in Serie A. He had been disappointing for Juventus since signing from Sampdoria in 1992, but he found his form in his third season and was instrumental in ending their nine-year wait to win the title.Vialli scored several overhead kicks in the 1994-95 campaign but the one that stands out above the rest came against the club where he first made his name. Reacting quickly to a Fabrizio Ravanelli header, Vialli somehow evaded his marker and pulled off the acrobatics, smashing the ball in off the underside of the bar. Masterful.17) Juan Sebastián Verón, LAZIO v Udinese, 1999-2000Lazio finished second in the 1998-99 season, just a point behind champions Milan. The following year they won their first title since 1974; Juan Sebastián Verón made the difference. Signed from Parma in the summer of 1999, he added guile and class to what was a very robust Lazio midfield.This goal came after another perfectly weighted cross from Sergio Conceição, who burst down the right and found Verón roaring into the Udinese penalty box. Verón connected beautifully with the ball, sending it crashing into the net from close range. There’s something spectacular about a first-time volley. 16) Luiso, PIACENZA v Milan, 1996-97Some overhead kicks are spontaneous but this one was planned. Receiving the ball with his back to the Milan goal, Luiso – having his breakthrough season – was being tightly marked by Alessandro Costacurta inside the box. Costacurta seemed to have the Piacenza striker where he wanted him. Luiso had nowhere to go and his only viable option was to pass the ball back to a team-mate. He had other ideas. That the goal was the winner in a 3-2 thriller made it even sweeter for Luiso – a Milan fan.15) Matias Almeyda, Parma v LAZIO, 1999-2000Matias Almeyda only scored two goals in three years for Lazio. A tenacious tackler in central midfield, he didn’t have goalscoring at the top of his agenda, but this one would make any centre-forward proud. Gigi Buffon’s face is priceless after the ball nestles into his net; he knows full well there was little he could do to stop Almeyda’s outrageous effort. It was a once-in-a-lifetime connection. Almeyda swapped Lazio for Parma in the summer of 2000 as a makeweight in the Hernan Crespo deal, but he never produced anything like this for his new side.14) George Weah, MILAN v Verona, 1996-97George Weah’s coast-to-coast goal on the opening day of the 1996-97 season showcased all of his attributes: speed, power and expert finishing. Yet there is an element of good fortune in the build-up; he gets a lucky break when two Verona players attempt to dispossess him but the ball lands in his path as he performs a 180-degree spin and keeps on running. Weah was a dazzlingly dynamic player, but he wasn’t Maradona when it came to ball control. That shouldn’t take anything away from him; he ran from one box to another without any help from his team-mates. This goal is purely about Weah.13) Hernán Crespo, Juventus v PARMA, 1998-99The third goal of a Hernán Crespo hat-trick that ended Marcello Lippi’s first all-conquering stint at Juventus. He resigned after the game, a 4-2 home defeat to Parma. The instep-backheel goal was a particular favourite of Crespo’s. This one is the pick of the bunch. The pitch in the Stadio delle Alpi was never the greatest, especially in winter, which makes Verón’s pinned cross all the more remarkable. Crespo waltzed through a demoralised Juve defence and performed the perfect coup de grace on the Lippi reign.12) Fabrizio Ravanelli v Parma, 1994-95Much like the bicycle kick, the diving header is one of the finer ways to score a goal. There’s something heroic about a player flinging himself through the air, desperately trying to get on the end of a cross. It’s comic book, Roy of the Rovers material. Ravanelli’s against Parma is a classic of the genre.The White Feather had formed a deadly alliance with Gianluca Vialli and both were in the middle of their best season with Juventus. Ravanelli, surrounded by two Parma defenders and on the edge of the penalty box, threw himself in the air like a javelin to meet Vialli’s cross and plant the ball into the bottom corner of the Parma net. Ravanelli says it is his favourite Juve goal and it’s hard to argue with him.11) Gabriel Batistuta, FIORENTINA v Napoli, 1995-96 Nobody could do the cucchiaio quite like Totti. He almost made a career out of daintily chipping goalkeepers, from his outrageous Panenka in the penalty shootout at the Euro 2000 semi-final to his famed goal against Inter in 2006.The beauty of this goal is that he’s on his weaker foot and the angle isn’t ideal for this type of finish. Yet Totti, in his first season wearing the No10 shirt, produced a goal worthy of the number. It does no harm that Gigi Buffon was in goal for Parma. When Totti retired this summer, Buffon said: “Some of his goals against me were so wonderful that I would have been ruining a masterpiece had I managed to save them.” He had little chance of saving this one.3) Alvaro Recoba, INTER v Brescia, 1997-98 Udinese Pinterest Marcelo Salas is in there somewhere. Photograph: Plinio Lepri/AP Facebook Reuse this contentlast_img

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