The Champions League serves up a brand of drama that can't be found elsewhere. Under the floodlights, with the greatest players in Europe competing for the biggest prize in club football. The goals are often sublime... and these are the best of the bunch.
20. Raul, Man United 2-3 REAL MADRID, 1999/00
Argentina star Redondo's amazing heel-kick flick past Henning Berg leads to a break down the line and tap-in for talisman Raul. The phenomenal skill to bamboozle the United defence is what grabs us here.
19. Allan Ravn, BRONDBY 2-1 Bayern Munich, 1998/99
Months before Bayern suffered heartbreak against Manchester United, the Germans had to pick themselves up from conceding two late goals to lose 2-1 in Denmark; Ravn scoring this sumptuous 89th-minute winner... watch from 03.18.
GREAT GOALS RETOLD Ravn: "I didn't have enough energy to take the last man as well"
18. Thierry Henry, Real Madrid 0-1 ARSENAL, 2005/06
The goal that decided this Round of 16 was Titi at his jet-heeled, cool-finishing best, racing clear of Beckham, Ronaldo and, er, Thomas Gravesen and slotting home from his favourite inside-left channel... watch from 02:03.
17. Michael Essien, CHELSEA 1-1 Barcelona, 2008/09
The Ghanaian is about more than just knee injuries and tough tackling, as this impossibly-good left-footed volley at the Bridge in an ultimately unsuccessful semi-final against the eventual champions proved.
16. Kevin-Prince Boateng, MILAN 2-0 Barcelona, 2012/13
The modest midfielder makes a mug of Eric Abidal with a ‘chop’ turn before burying a low finish in at the near post to send the San Siro wild in this Round of 16 first leg. Nice.
15. Hugo Almeida, Inter 2-1 PORTO, 2005/06
FFT reckons the Portuguese forward’s left-footed free-kick from about a mile out (OK, 30 yards) would have orbited the earth had it not been stopped by the top corner of the San Siro net. Speculative but spectacular.
14. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anderlecht 0-5 PSG, 2013/14
Zlatan doesn’t do sympathy. Which is why he scored this banana blaster as part of a four-goal salvo against the Belgian champions, to leave them with no goals scored and 10 conceded in the group stage... watch from 27 seconds.
13. Philippe Mexes, Anderlecht 1-3 MILAN, 2012/13
“You only score a goal like that once in your career.” Especially when you’re a centre-back, Phil! This group-stage great comes courtesy of a long-range overhead kick after some already-impressive chest control.
12. George Weah, Bayern Munich 0-1 PSG, 1994/95
A flowing team move, silky solo run and long-range worldie all rolled into one, as the legendary Liberian inspired group stage smash-and-grab in Bavaria during the group stage.
11. Dejan Savicevic, MILAN 4-0 Barcelona, 1993/94
The pick of the goals as a great Milan side gave Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team nightmares in the ’94 final. The Yugoslav playmaker has the awareness and accuracy to lob Andoni Zubizarreta from a tight angle. Genius.
10. Lars Ricken, BORUSSIA DORTMUND 3-1 Juventus, 1996/97
The fastest-ever goal by a substitute in the final, and what a goal it was – a first-time, on-the-run chip (the 20-year-old’s first touch) from 25 yards to end Juve’s hopes of a comeback.
9. Cristiano Ronaldo, Porto 0-1 MAN UNITED, 2008/09
Tap-ins, headers, free-kicks, mazy dribbles – CR7 can score all kinds of goals, including swerving piledrivers to put the then-reigning champions into the semi-finals, testing his popularity in Portugal’s second city.
8. Mauro Bressan, FIORENTINA 3-3 Barcelona, 1999/00
Bressan was an unremarkable journeyman midfielder, but if you are going to be remembered for one thing, it might as well be this from outside the box against one of the continent’s giants.
7. Divock Origi, LIVERPOOL 4-0 Barcelona, 2019/20
Some of the goals on this are thunderous efforts from distance, others are moments of sublime technical skill... This is neither. Divock Origi makes the finish look easier than it was, but this goal is all about the assist. Trent Alexander Arnold is a step ahead of anybody else on the pitch when he takes a quick corner to catch Barcelona unaware. It's a smash and grab which sealed one of the greatest comebacks of all time.
6. Lionel Messi, BARCELONA 3-0 Bayern, 2014/15
It wouldn't be a 'RANKED' list without an appearance from Lionel Messi. The little magician sits Jerome Boating down before chipping Manuel Neuer with his weaker foot. Breathtaking.
5. Lionel Messi, Real Madrid vs BARCELONA, 2010/11
It's a classic Messi mazy run, against their biggest rivals in a semi-final of the Champions League... all worthy enough to give this goal a place on our list. Yet it's that one-two with Sergio Busquets that leaves the greatest imprint. Spine-tingling.
4. Mario Mandzukic, JUVENTUS 1-4 Real Madrid, 2015/16
The Old Lady might have ultimately caved and lost the final after the Croatian's equaliser in the 27th minute, but there's no doubt this effort remains one of the greatest ever scored by a Juventus player. The acrobatic finish is perfectly executed, but the move itself deserves plaudits too. A fine team goal, with a sensational full stop.
3. Dejan Stankovic, INTER 2-5 Schalke, 2010/11
A long-range specialist, but the thunderbooted Serb scored none better than this, a raking volley from the halfway line past some two-bob keeper called Manuel Neuer in the quarter-final first leg.
2. Zinedine Zidane, Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 REAL MADRID, 2001/02
Apparently, two other goals were scored in the 2002 final... no, we don’t remember them, either. That’s because Zizou did this, hammering a volley into the top corner from Roberto Carlos’ looping cross.
1. Gareth Bale, Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool, 2017/18
Gareth Bale might have a patchy history with Real Madrid fans, but even the most hardened anti-Baler will remember this goal forever. It's a sumptuous volley, scored by the much-maligned substitute after his introduction in the 61st minute, that ultimately won his side the game. An incredible goal in the biggest moment of all.
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Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Key FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.
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