Remember that run George Weah made for Milan against Verona in the 90s? Running from box to box, taking on the whole Verona team and scoring: it was something Pele was good at doing. The Brazilian Ronaldo did it too, and now Lionel Messi. The Premier League has also seen some amazing solo efforts along the years, but which one was the best of them all?
Here are the top 10 Premier League solo goals:
10. Jesse Lingard against Leicester City
Lingard’s 38 games in over four years for Untied hardly hint of cream in Untied’s cup but his goal against defending champions Leicester in the Community Shield in 2016 sure tasted like it. He saw the tunnel in among six badly positioned Foxes and went for it: two prods, a pinch of luck and a sleazy shot finding the hole in the body of lunging keeper Kasper Schmeichel and viola: a goal to remember. Unlike his United career.
9. Sadio Mane against Arsenal
Mane had just completed a summer switch from Southampton when on season day one in 2016, he was thrown in the deep against Arsenal at the Emirates. Little did we know, Mane could swim without floaters. He scored Liverpool’s fourth goal in a dramatic 4-3 victory. The way he did it, left the Arsenal defenders feeling foolish.
8. Hatem Ben Arfa against Bolton
Back in 2012, Ben Arfa gave a lecture on ‘the first touch’ against Bolton which Dennis Bergkamp would have gladly attended. Receiving the ball in his own half, he dashed in a straight line most compulsive geometricians would have wetted themselves watching it. No fancy tricks, just a brilliant first touch and two prods left Ben Arfa with the simple task of nudging the ball past keeper Adam Bogdan. It was a run of 60 meters that looked ‘as easy as anything, Jeff’ to quote the Sky Sports legend Chris Kamara.
7. Cesc Fabregas against Spurs
Before Spurs knew what hit them after a kick-off after Robin van Persie’s goal near the end of the first half, Fabregas intercepted a pass and dashed past Jermaine Jenas and Wilson Palacios. Ledley King was still pulling his trousers up when a nice prod left Fabregas one-on-one against Gomes. The replays of van Persie’s goal had just finished but the crowd’s excitement beckoned the editor to switch the camera to the game just in time for us to see the ball was rolling past Gomes. It was a truly special blitz attack by the usually slow Fabregas.
6. Thierry Henry against Liverpool
In 2004, Thierry Henry made Liverpool legends Dietmar Hamann and Jamie Caragher look like old ladies on ice. Receiving the ball near the half line Henry characteristically exploded forward getting into the box in a fraction of a second with Hamann stumbling behind him. An explosive sidestep sent Caragher into a foggy and dark forest too before Henry slotted it home. Not the longest run, but a clear demonstration of atomic energy by the Arsenal icon.
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5. Thierry Henry against Tottenham
Highbury was still standing erect in 2002 when Henry received the ball deep inside his own half against fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The volcanic pressure of failing to score in last seven matches spurred him forward, a wind, leaving behind Spurs players. A 70-meter run capped by a tricky dummy and a well-placed shot in the lower corner saw Henry slide on his knees in celebration–the moment immortalised in bronze outside the Emirates. Henry later remembered a picture of Spurs fans looking ‘disappointed, angry and some of them even had no expression.’
4. Ruud van Nistelrooy against Fulham
It was a pleasant spring afternoon when Nistelrooy send United top of England with a hat-trick against Fulham at Old Trafford. But it was his second strike that caught the eye. Receiving the ball in the centre of the circle, he hit his ‘zone’ right away. ‘Oh, shit’ is perhaps what the Fulham defenders were thinking while Van Nistelrooy slalomed among them to cap the run with a scarily composed goal – a mark of a truly skillful forward.
3. Steve Macmanaman against Celtic
It is highly unlikely that when Macmanaman got the ball at his feet deep in his half and on the wing in a UEFA Cup match against Celtic, he thought ‘right, I’m going to score a goal now.’ But his dash certainly contained such intent. Bypassing one, two, a mass of Celtic players looked like a vice closing in. By then, Macmanaman had reached the edge of the box in less than 10 seconds. The screamer of a curler dampened what could’ve been a very Scottish night.
2. Dimitri Payet against Middlesborough
Payet has always struck the impression that the sky blue parts of his shirt should be more dark blue. Against Middleborough, he looked just like it. Receiving the ball from the air on the wing, Payet tamed it, feigned a dash then turned the other way, eliminating his confused marker. Another faint, another body on the ground. A step-over in front of three other hapless defenders: three more Benny Hill moments. It was the composure with which Payet got past five players, rather than the urgency which usually arises when the odds are direly against you, that made this goal quite special.
1. Ryan Giggs against Arsenal
When Manchester Untied and Arsenal met in the late 90s, it always predisposed drama, but the FA Cup semifinal of 1999 played out at a notch above that. With Bergkamp having missed a penalty in the drying stages of the game at 1-1, the match pushed into extra time. Patrick Vieira found himself with bags of space in midfield and stretched the game wide with a pass which fell to Ryan Giggs. Giggs dashed forward, passing one, two, three, four players, a run of 50 meters, and then unleashed a bombastic shot in the top corner. Manchester United had won the game in the 109th minute–a match that later Wenger described as ‘deciding for the title’ too.
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