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10 of football's most incredible consolation goals: featuring Balotelli, Huntelaar and more

Darren Fletcher vs Manchester City 

Manchester United aren’t used to being humiliated, but that is exactly what happened when they were thrashed 6-1 by ‘noisy neighbours’ City at Old Trafford in October 2011. Although the home crowd were forced to witness United’s heaviest home defeat in 56 years, they could at least console themselves with Fletcher’s fantastic strike.

With City leading 3-0 in the 81st minute, the midfielder played a neat one-two with Javier Hernandez before curling a fine effort into the top corner of the net. It was a rare bright note on a decidedly dismal day for the Red Devils.

Orlando Da Costa vs Pandurii Targu Jiu

The first thought that springs to mind when watching this goal is: did he really mean it? Only Orlando Da Costa will know the answer to that question, but it would be churlish to refuse him the benefit of the doubt.

Concordia found themselves 3-0 down to Pandurii in a Romanian top-division clash in 2013 when Da Costa smashed the ball past the goalkeeper from a seemingly impossible angle. It's difficult to work out exactly what happened on first viewing, but replays reveal that the Brazilian hit across the ball with the outside of his foot, resulting in a Roberto Carlos-esque bending banana shot that flew into the far corner. Impressive stuff.

Dean Ashton vs Manchester United 

Some may argue that a goal scored as early as the 28th minute can never be classed as a consolation, but given that Ashton’s deficit-reducer came against a United side who rarely dropped points at home and were on route to a second successive league title, its inclusion is probably justified.

West Ham were 3-0 down when the former Norwich City striker beat Edwin van der Sar with one of the best goals of the Premier League season. Wes Brown made a mess of Bobby Zamora’s hopeful pass forward, with Ashton on hand to acrobatically capitalise on the centre-back’s poor header and turn the ball home with a wonderfully executed overhead kick.  

Mario Balotelli vs Napoli 

Balotelli has never been one to roar around the pitch after scoring – “I’m only doing my job… when a postman delivers letters, does he celebrate?” he once asked – but his response to this belter against Napoli was the quintessential consolation goal non-celebration.

With just two minutes left on the clock, Milan were losing 2-0 at San Siro when Balotelli reminded everyone of just how naturally talented he is. M’Baye Niang’s pass was killed dead with a single touch, before another swish of the right boot sent the ball flying past Pepe Reina and into the far corner. Balotelli, satisfied but not overjoyed with his work, simply jogged back to the halfway line.

Javier Elizondo vs Palestino 

The internet has given birth to many wonderful things: quicker forms of communication, a wealth of instantly accessible information on a myriad of different topics, However the ability to watch endless footage of relatively obscure foreign teams play football is right up there, mainly because in years gone by goals like Elizondo’s against Palestino would not have been witnessed by anybody outside of Chile.

It is with gratitude to the inventors of the World Wide Web, then, that the Antofagasta striker’s lobbing of the Palestino keeper from the halfway line can be enjoyed. It did not quite have the swerve of Charlie Adam's strike against Chelsea or the iconic value of David Beckham's Wimbledon goal, but Elizondo nevertheless deserves a huge amount of credit for the weight of the shot, which only hit the ground after it had crossed the line. The Chilean commentator clearly enjoys it, too.

Demarai Gray vs Manchester United

Leicester's tough start to their season as defending Premier League champions continuted in late September 2016 as they visited Old Trafford and were promptly 4-0 down by half-time. A manager's advice in such a situation is often to go out and "win the second half" and if Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri's managed to utter those words inbetween bell noises and suspicious glances at Craig Shakespeare, his players didn't let him down on that score.

Or at least, one player didn't. On 59 minutes, Demarai Gray picked up the ball on the left flank, cut inside and unleashed an unstoppable thunderbolt past David de Gea and into the net. The match duly finished 4-1, but at least Gray's goal added some colour to the afternoon for the away support.

Elano vs Middlesbrough

Manchester City have come a long, long way since May 2008. Younger readers may be surprised to learn that the two-time Premier League champions were once something of a laughing stock, the word ‘City’ automatically associated with throwing away golden opportunities and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

This 8-1 defeat to Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2007/08 campaign was one of the club’s final matches before the Abu Dhabi United Group’s takeover at the start of the following season. As such, the visitors’ starting line-up at the Riverside featured Michael Ball, Darius Vassell and Benjani Mwaruwari rather than Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Sergio Aguero.

Elano was one of Sven Goran-Eriksson's side’s best players that year, and he salvaged a miniscule amount of pride in the 87th minute with a jinking run and terrific drive to cut Middlesbrough’s lead back to 7-1. “We’re gonna win 8-7,” the City fans chimed optimistically, perhaps forgetting that the club most likely to throw away a six-goal lead with three minutes remaining was their own.

Daniele De Rossi vs Manchester United 

At the time, a 2-1 victory over United at the Stadio Olimpico looked to have put Roma in a good position heading into the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Sir Alex Ferguson’s men in April 2007. The Italians, however, were sent back to the peninsula with their tail firmly between their legs after a devastating 7-1 defeat at Old Trafford.

It’s a shame, then, that born-and-bred Roman De Rossi – a midfielder not exactly renowned for his goalscoring – would have taken little joy from this thumping volley that made it 6-1 on the night and 7-3 on aggregate.

At 3:23 here

Benito Carbone vs Blackburn

Carbone is something of a cult hero at Hillsborough for his exploits with Sheffield Wednesday between 1996 and 1999, with the pint-sized Italian netting 25 goals in 96 games. Few were better than this effort against Blackburn in Wednesday’s fourth match of the 1997/98 Premier League season.

Collecting possession 40 yards from goal, Carbone arrowed a dipping shot into the back of the net, the ball satisfyingly kissing the crossbar on its way in. As good as the strike was, it could not inspire a Wednesday comeback, with Roy Hodgson’s outfit running out 7-2 winners at Ewood Park.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar vs Real Madrid 

There are some fabulous goals detailed here, but Huntelaar’s is perhaps the best of the lot. Arriving unmarked at the edge of the box, the Schalke centre-forward rifled in a spectacularly sweet volley from 20 yards out, the ball flying past Iker Casillas and landing in the back of the net via the underside of the bar.

As a child, the Dutchman probably dreamt of scoring a goal as good as this against one of European football’s foremost teams. It’s likely that Huntelaar envisaged it being the winner in a Champions League final rather than a late consolation in a 6-1 rout but hey, you can’t have it all.

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