The 15 best free-kicks of all time

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Portsmouth

Ronaldo's screamer, Roberto’s jaw-dropping banana and the cheek of Ronaldinho – Greg Lea counts down the greatest ever dead-ball strikes

15. Ronaldinho, Flamengo vs Santos

Much like his famous toe-poke against Chelsea, this 2011 goal showcases what made Ronaldinho so special. After drawing a foul with some typically fantastic footwork, the Brazilian waits for the wall to jump out of the way before simply sliding his shot underneath it. He may have scored free-kicks that were more technically difficult to execute, but none evidence Ronaldinho’s invention, audacity and downright genius quite like this one.

1:20 for the goal

14. Garrincha, Brazil vs Bulgaria

Looking at the respective positions of the wall, the goalkeeper and the free-kick itself, it would appear that the only way a right-footer could put the ball where Garrincha sticks it is by curling it with the instep. But no. The Brazil international instead strikes across it with the outside of his boot, bending the ball into the top corner to give the Seleção a commanding 2-0 lead in this 1966 World Cup group stage clash. Stunning.

13. Hakan Calhanoglu, Hamburg vs Borussia Dortmund

Turkish midfielder Calhanoglu has developed a reputation as a free-kick specialist in recent years – and this is the most astonishing he’s hit so far. Despite the fact that 45 yards separate ball from net, the then-Hamburg man acquaints the two with this ferocious strike which arrows towards goal before dramatically swerving left at the last minute.

The only thing this 2014 free-kick loses marks for is Dortmund’s utter apathy at trying to defend it. Although having said that, there wouldn’t have been much they could do anyway.

12. Lasse Schone, Ajax vs Feyenoord

“Keep it tight first 20, boys. Don’t give anything silly away.”

Those were probably the instructions of Feyenoord boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst ahead of Sunday’s Klassieker against Ajax, but the Dutchman’s players were unable to comply. Just 53 seconds in, Lasse Schone gave the hosts the lead at the Amsterdam Arena, letting rip with an astonishing piledriver that kissed the bar on its way in. Not a bad start for the home side, all in all.  

11. Teofilo Cubillas, Peru vs Scotland

Cubillas barely looks interested as Peru prepare to take this set-piece against Scotland in 1978, with three of his team-mates gathered around the edge of the opposition box.

That, however, was probably all part of an act which sees Juan Munante step over the ball and Cubillas delicately prod it around the wall with the outside of his foot. It’s a fine piece of skill and arguably the best free-kick in World Cup history (sorry Becks).

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