Manchester United returned to the Premiership summit midweek with a comfortable 2 — 0 victory over Harry Redknapp’s Pompey side.
Whilst many would argue that United could have gone on to score six or seven, such was their dominance and quality of play, I’m sure the Old Trafford faithful would have settled for two and the spectacle that was Ronaldo’s free kick.
We’ve seen him score several free kicks before, the majority coming this season yet none have captured the footballing publics imagination like last nights.
At around 25 yards out and more or less central to the goal, Ronaldo struck with an awesome blend of power and accuracy, the ball sailing over the wall and passing within two — three inches of the post and crossbar. David James, heralded this week as the league’s best keeper by Redknapp stood grounded, simply shaking his head in disbelief.
The goal led Sir Alex Ferguson to reserve special praise for the goal, saying:
“It was a marvellous hit and there is no keeper in the world that is going to save that.”
“Without doubt that has to be the best (free-kick in the Premier League’s history).”
Now, whilst the goal truly was stunning and quite unique, I’m not sure Ferguson’s claims of it being the best in the Premiership’s history ring true.
Now, what I consider THE best free kick ever (maybe the best goal ever) is Roberto Carlos’ blast against France at Le Tournoi in 1998. Stunning beyond belief though I’m sure you don’t need reminding.
Unfortunately, that goal was not scored in the Premiership so doesn’t come into consideration when deciding on my favourites.
After a quick scrambling of my thoughts, several informed opinions and a lengthy scouring of YouTube, I have concluded these are my top 5 Premiership free kicks ever….
5. Matt Le Tissier
Southampton Vs Wimbledon 26/02/1994
Always one for the wonder strike, Le Tissier scored a goal that had schoolboys all over the country copying him. Instead of trying to get the ball up and over the wall direct, the ball was laid of and with a neat flick up he emphatically volleyed into the top right hand corner of the Don’s net. An oh so simple execution of such difficult technique that was to become the hallmark of Le Tissier’s footballing career.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
Sunderland Vs Manchester United 26/12/2007
Similar to the one scored against Pompey but instead Ronaldo decides to whip it across the goal, instead of firing clean through the ball. Again incredible pace and accuracy combine to create the magic moment. The result is a ball nestling in the top corner of the net and a £9 million goalkeeper rooted to the spot, no doubt feeling a little helpless.
3. John Arne Riise
Liverpool Vs Manchester United 04/11/2001
John Arne Riise stamped his name in Anfield folklore with this goal alone. A player whose shot struck fear into the opposition keeper and fans behind the goal alike, Riise outdid even himself on this occasion. A set piece placed slightly too far right proved little problem for the Norwegian powerhouse as he slammed home the teed off shot, cannoning in off of the underside of the bar en route. That the goal was scored against bitter rivals Manchester United only served to endear him further into the hearts of scouse reds everywhere.
2. Cristano Ronaldo
Manchester United Vs Portsmouth 30/01/2008
Truly unique in his execution, Ronaldo has scored an abundance of outstanding free kicks this term — as Sunderland, Sporting Lisbon and Inter Milan will testify. Last year it appeared that Ronaldo was actually aiming for the wall at some points, such was the frequency he would hit it — this is no longer the case. The precise placements of the ball, the odd stance and prolonged stare prior to the strike no longer seem like the pantomime pieces they once did. For now he actually provides and provides and provides….
1. David Beckham
Everton Vs Manchester United 11/05/2003
Maybe not the most popular choice but for me, the best Premier League free kick ever. This man made a name for himself with his pinpoint crossing and deadly free kicks. Throughout his whole career Beckham scored several brilliant free kicks (he could probably have his own top 50) and he has done it where he has gone, be it at Manchester United, Real Madrid, for England and now at L.A Galaxy. This particular goal at Goodison Park epitomised what Beckham was about. Despite the ball being in a position where a cross would seem the better option, Beckham with his unlimited confidence and set piece ability saw otherwise and produced an outstanding strike to end his time at Manchester United on a real high. Whipped across the goal into the far top corner of the net, it seems astonishing now that he managed to find that spot especially with his right foot — a leftie may have struggled. Maybe because United had already wrapped up the title and the game was essentially a friendly for them people don’t remember that goal as well as some of his others but for me it was truly outstanding.
Other honourable mentions go to Robin Van Persie for his attempt at breaking the crossbar at Ashburton Grove against Sunderland earlier this season, Elano’s netbuster against Newcastle in October and Steven Gerrard for his thunderbolt at St James Park.
What are your opinions on mine and what are your own top five? Best free kick in Premiership history? And excuses for any brilliant strikes I may have forgotten!