Free kicks hold a special place in a football fan’s heart, but why is that? Could it be because they create heroes, such as David Beckham’s shot against Greece back in 2001, or is it that one kick might just save the day for our favourite team, such as Gareth Bale’s goal against Lyon this year? Or could it be that goals scored from set pieces walk hand-in-hand with the term ‘beauty’? Well we at Football FanCast decided we would concentrate on the ‘beauty’ part. So ladies and gents, here is FCC’s list of the top 10 best free kick goals ever scored in Premier League history.
10. THIERRY HENRY (ARSENAL) VS NEWCASTLE
Thierry Henry is no stranger to beautiful goals and his free kick against Newcastle seven years ago which was the equaliser after a goal from Kieron Dyer is no different. It was the 70th minute when a free kick from the left hit Shay Given’s cross bar, crossed the line and hit the net. There was no way the Magpies’ keeper could save that.
9. MATT LE TISSIER (SOUTHAMPTON) VS WIMBLEDON
A true Premier League and Saints’ legend, Matt Le Tissier was one of a kind and some could say that he made football look easy thanks to his skills. Nineteen years ago Southampton played Wimbledon and Le Tissier scored a 20-yard free kick that left everyone wondering how outrageously skillful that goal was. Jim Magilton laid the ball back to the Guernsey-born attacking midfielder who lifted the ball and then casually shot it to the left of the keeper’s net. There was no chance that shot would be saved but Le Tissier made it look like a practice kick. That was one of the reasons they remember him at St. Mary’s stadium as ‘Le God’.
8. JOHN ARNE RIISE (LIVERPOOL) VS MANCHESTER UNITED
These kind of goals always help on a heated derby between sworn rivals. It was back in 2001, the year Liverpool won the UEFA Cup, where the Norwegian scored an incredible free kick for the Reds against Manchester United. Liverpool were already in the lead when during the last six minutes of the first half they got a free kick on the right. Dietmarr Hamann laid the ball slightly to the left where Riise kicked it all the way to Fabien Barthez’s top right corner and doubled the Reds’ goals. That goal was very important as it helped Liverpool win 3-1.
7. CRISTIANO RONALDO (MANCHESTER UNITED) VS PORTSMOUTH
Of course the Portuguese superstar could not be absent from that list. He is a natural on free kicks as he was always the taker back in his Manchester United days, and still is in Real Madrid. Five years ago, when United won the Champions League, the Red Devils were playing Portsmouth, that year’s FA Cup winners, at Old Trafford. At that night, CR7 opened the score at the ninth minute and took a free kick just three minutes later. The execution was superb as the ball landed right on the left corner of a still David James. It is not easy to send the ball exactly where you want to after a free kick, except perhaps when you are Cristiano Ronaldo.
6. PATRIK BERGER (LIVERPOOL) VS MANCHESTER UNITED
Riise was not the only Liverpool player to score an absolute beauty against Manchester United. The only difference is that Patrik Berger’s goal was scored at Old Trafford. Back in 2000 people were talking about the Apocalypse; however the only apocalyptic thing Man United goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw witnessed was the Czech’s unstoppable shot on the 27th minute. The former midfielder kicked a thunderous shot with his left foot from the right corner of the box, almost 30 yards out, and sent the ball crushing into United’s bottom left corner of the net. Would you like some fries with that Berger?
5. MAYNOR FIGUEROA (WIGAN) VS STOKE
Don’t you just hate it when you watch an uninteresting match? But don’t you just love it when something amazing happens out of nowhere? Four years ago Wigan drew Stoke 2-2 in an away match, however the game was remembered thanks to the Goal of the season (2009-2010) scored by Maynor Figueroa. The former Wigan defender scored an absolute stunner from a half-way free kick that put the Latics ahead again. Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen saved a late penalty at that match but was not exactly careful or ready for the Honduran’s free kick.
4. CHRISTIAN ZIEGE (TOTTENHAM) VS ARSENAL
What a way to start the North London derby. Back in 2002 the former Germany international scored an absolute stunner on the 15th minute at White Hart Lane from 30 yards. The left-footed former Bayern Munich player gave the ball an unbelievable curve and sent it to Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman’s top left corner. By the end of the first half, Arsenal’s sorrow swayed away after a successful penalty kick by Robert Pires. Ziege was always a man of big games as he has also scored at a Liverpool, North East, Munich and Milan derby and he also scored a semi-final penalty kick against England at the 1996 Euro.
3. MICHAEL TARNAT (MANCHESTER CITY) VS BLACKBURN
Another former Germany international and the outside of his left foot make the list. It was August 2003 when the Citizens were playing Blackburn away where the former Bayern player scored the first of many goals to come with style. At around 40 yards, Tarnat was obviously going for a shot as he gave himself a lot of steps beforehand and launched an unstoppable rocket all the way to the bottom right corner of the Rovers’ net. That free kick was also very critical as Man City got away with a close win of 3-2.
2. CRISTIANO RONALDO (MANCHESTER UNITED) VS BLACKBURN
Him again. Usually when a team gets a free kick at the left flank the kicker thinks about crossing the ball. However, CR7 begs the differ. Just a year after their Champions League triumph in Moscow, the Red Devils were playing Blackburn at Old Trafford where (seemingly soon to be ex United player) Wayne Rooney opened the score at the 23rd minute. Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz evened it up nine minutes later. During second half though, United got a free kick from the left just outside the box. Ronaldo hit it with his right foot, as usual, and sent the ball to Paul Robinson’s top left corner and gave his team the victory.
1. DAVID BECKHAM (MANCHESTER UNITED) VS EVERTON
Did you really think we left him out? Football Fan Cast’s best free kick ever scored in the Premier league is the one by the former England captain against Everton at Goodison Park. Everton were already ahead thanks to a goal by Kevin Campbell early on however United got a free kick close to the right flank just before the half-time whistle. Toffees’ goalkeeper, Richard Wright, stood on the right of his post and placed the wall on the left but Becks was able to outsmart the former England international. Just a moment before the shot, Beckham lured Wright to his left but instead shot it to his right corner. This kick was not just an absolute beauty; it was also genius which showed exactly why Beckham will go down in history of one of the best footballers ever. That was the last match of the 2002-2003 season and was also the last match ever for David Beckham in a Man United shirt.
So there you have it, Football FanCast’s Top 10 free kicks ever scored at the Premier League. Tell us, what do you think of our list? Who would you include and who would you scrap? Would you change the order?