- Festive Fundown
Football: Goals of the Year
Christmas season is upon us, so in the build-up to the big day itself we at ESPN Towers will be picking out a host of top-five moments, and then asking YOU to vote for your favourites.
What was the goal of 2012? Who are the top five bad boys of the past 12 months? Who had years to forget? Come back each day for a new topic and cast your vote to pick the winners of each category…
Papiss Cisse - Newcastle United v Chelsea, April 2 2012Some goals will be remembered far beyond their importance to a match or even a season. Newcastle and Chelsea were competing for a top-four place that neither achieved, and Newcastle were leading at Stamford Bridge. Time was being killed as Shola Ameobi flicked the ball to Cisse in an unpromising position on Chelsea's right flank. Cisse allowed the ball to bounce once before - with the outside of his right foot - unleashing a vicious swerving shot. Petr Cech was almost on his line but it dipped just above him and then under the bar to nestle into the net. On the sidelines, Alan Pardew bore a stunned look of amusement before a knowing look from Didier Drogba had the pair laughing with each other and the two teams' benches applauding together.
Sergio Aguero - Manchester City v Queen's Park Rangers, May 13 2012If there is a goal from 2012 that will be replayed again over the decades, it is this one. There will be few more crucial in those years. The situation was this: in the dying seconds of the season, Manchester United had won at Sunderland. City needed to beat QPR, having just equalised through Edin Dzeko, in the 13 seconds after the final whistle at the Stadium of Light. Mario Balotelli fell as he scooped the ball into the Rangers area. Aguero showed the cool and precision that £38 million will buy you to deliver the most thrilling climax of the Premier League years.
Didier Drogba - Chelsea v Bayern Munich, May 19 2012Talking of important goals, here was the most crucial in Chelsea's entire history. Bayern Munich led the Champions League final their own ground was hosting through a Thomas Muller strike. Chelsea's defensive approach had failed them. Drogba, as so often in his eight years at the club, provided the solution. There were two minutes on the clock. "Where's there's life there's hope," said commentator Martin Tyler. Juan Mata's corner boomed in. Drogba made his way to it and Frank Lampard's similar run stopped Bayern's defenders getting to it. Drogba's header crashed past Neuer. Destiny was now on Chelsea's side.
Mario Balotelli - Italy v Germany, June 29 2012Why always him? Euro 2012 provided a reminder just why football managers persist with the chaotic whims of Mario Balotelli. Having put Italy into the lead against heavy favourites Germany with a header, Balotelli's second was a study in calm yet destructive finishing. Riccardo Montolivo's long raking ball found Balotelli onside but still beyond the German backline. Taking it down with his left, he could have run in on to play one-on-one with Manuel Neuer but instead smashed with his right foot. Neuer was given no chance by Balotelli taking it so early. Italy were in the European Championship final.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Sweden v England, November 14 2012November's friendly internationals were previewed with utter disdain. They were the games that nobody wanted. But England's trip to Sweden was a gala night in Stockholm, as they were the invited guests to the opening night of new national stadium the Friends Arena. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a much-derided figure in England, despite a room-full of trophies, delivered four reasons why this was no pointless friendly. Having scored the first hat-trick against England since Marco Van Basten in 1988, Zlatan saved his best for last. When Joe Hart rushed out to make a weak header to clear his lines, he opened up what would be not even a glimmer of a chance to mere mortals. Ibrahimovic dealt with a high-bouncing ball by launching into an overhead kick which arrowed into the England net from 35 yards. Ryan Shawcross tried his best to reach the ball but his vain slide could never deny genius.