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Ranked! The 15 best hat-tricks of all-time: starring Bale, Berba, Bergkamp and more

Gareth Bale Inter Milan hat-trick
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5. Gareth Bale, Inter 4-3 Tottenham (October 2010)

Goal 1: One good thing – OK, the only good thing – about being four goals and a man down is that you’ve nothing to lose. A 21-year-old Bale takes that idea, and the ball, and runs with it. Does this count as an assist for Peter Crouch? 5/5

Goal 2: Bale’s interception starts this 90th-minute move, and although he’s a little fortunate to get the ball back after losing it, his near-identical run and finish are devastating. Julio Cesar should do better, mind. 3/5

Goal 3: As with Crouch’s winner to beat Inter’s city rivals in the last 16, this is all about Aaron Lennon’s run. This time, Bale does the honours. 3/5

Significance: Bale’s is the only hat-trick in this countdown to be scored for the losing side, and the comeback was never really on. However, it inspired Spurs to win the home game with another Bale masterclass, and announced a special talent to the world. 4/5

Score: 15/20

4. Dennis Bergkamp, Leicester 3-3 Arsenal (August 1997)

Goal 1: This looks so simple that you wonder why more corners aren’t taken this way. Of course, it isn’t simple: Bergkamp sets himself quickly and puts deceptive pace on his curling strike to whip the ball in off the post. Perfection. 5/5

Goal 2: Variety makes this hat-trick especially pleasing when compared with the nonetheless-astounding efforts by Messrs Bale and Mihajlovic. You can excuse the Dutchman one bit of good fortune. 2/5

Goal 3: The jewel in the crown (yes, it’s better than his goal against Newcastle), this is quintessential Bergkamp: a goal wholly reliant upon the touch of a genius. ‘Perfection’ is again the word – and it should’ve been the winner… 5/5

Significance: Bergkamp’s only Arsenal hat-trick is, apart from Bale’s above, the only treble here not to result in a win. Having regained the lead virtually from kick-off in the 94th minute, following Leicester’s late equaliser, Arsenal conceded again in the 96th. Poor Dennis. 3/5

Score: 15/20

3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden 4-2 England (November 2012)

(Goals at 0:10, 2:22, 2:51 & 3:26)

Goal 1: Quick thinking, tidy finish, 1-0. 2/5

Goal 2: This chest-and-volley is so well taken that Ibrahimovic apologises to Gary Cahill afterwards. That, or he’s consoling Cahill for having to partner Ryan Shawcross, who comes on after 74 minutes with England leading 2-1, loses Ibrahimovic for this goal three minutes later, then concedes twice more. 4/5

Goals 3 & 4: The Swede’s well-struck shot exposes Joe Hart’s weaknesses at free-kicks years before it was cool, completing a fine hat-trick… and then comes the fourth goal, an overhead kick so flawlessly executed that you almost have to laugh at its preposterousness. 3 + 5 = 8/5

Significance: It was a friendly and England give debuts to six players, three of whom (Shawcross, Carl Jenkinson and goalscorer Steven Caulker) never played again, with another two receiving just one more cap (Leon Osman and Wilfried Zaha… still, Raheem Sterling turned out all right). However, it’s important to remember just how dismissive the English media was of Ibrahimovic even as late as 2012. This shut up rather a lot of people. 2/5

Score: 16/20 (PS the following season, Ibrahimovic scored another foursome against Anderlecht, which wasn’t bad either.)

2. Luis Suarez, Liverpool 5-1 Norwich (December 2013)

(Goals at the start, 1:20, 2:05, 3:15)

Goal 1: The most replayed, no doubt, but Suarez’s opener arguably isn’t the best goal in this batch. It’s a fine strike, all right, but a leaden-footed John Ruddy does his bit. 4/5

Goal 2: The least replayed, no doubt, but Suarez’s second is actually a tidy finish on his weaker foot, given the height of the ball and the speed at which it’s travelling. He does well to keep it down. 2/5

Goals 3 & 4: Untidy as it looks, the Uruguayan keeps the ball under control superbly before and after his neat flick, and – aided by a hesitant Norwich defence – he’s able to find a sweet connection for an unstoppable strike. As for the fourth goal… you don’t save those. 4+4 = 8/5

Significance: This wasn’t the only hat-trick Suarez scored against Norwich, which diminishes its impact, but the goals speak for themselves. Plus, Liverpool had lost to lowly Hull three days earlier and needed to bounce back. Suarez helped them do that, though they’d still fall agonisingly short in May. 3/5

Score: 17/20

1. Rivaldo, Barcelona 3-2 Valencia (June 2001)

(Goals at 0:05, 0:58 and 2:12)

Goal 1: A predictable winner? Perhaps. But everything about Rivaldo’s hat-trick against Valencia on June 17, 2001 beggared belief, right down to a league match being played on June 17 (and Barcelona still had a two-legged Copa del Rey semi-final to come). He opened his account with this stellar set piece. Watch from the angle behind the goal and you’ll see that it’s probably better than every other free-kick we’ve shown so far. 4/5

Goal 2: This one’s deceptive, as the ball ends up almost in the middle of the net. It’s only on second viewing that you notice how Rivaldo turns a defender all the way around with an elaborate dummy, and how his shot is hit with such power and swerve that it wrongfoots himself as well as Santiago Canizares in goal. 4/5

Goal 3: From the sublime to the ridiculous. With three minutes left on the clock and the score 2-2, Rivaldo finds one more magic moment within himself. Taking responsibility yet again, he chests the ball high to give himself time to manoeuvre, then launches into the air and connects sweetly with a bicycle kick that gives Canizares no chance. 5/5

Significance: Context elevates an already great hat-trick into something stupendous. Barcelona’s place in the following season’s Champions League depended on them beating Valencia. Twice Rivaldo gave them the lead; twice Ruben Baraja equalised; yet in the 87th minute, Rivaldo had the final say. Barça reached the Champions League semi-finals the next season, and they wouldn’t even have qualified except for the most dramatic example of one player single-handedly steering his team to victory. 5/5

Score: 18/20

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