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Zlat's the way I like it
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four goals on Wednesday as Sweden beat England, but it was just one of them that everyone was talking about in the aftermath.
Ibra's fourth strike was one of the finest of his career - as he capitalised on Joe Hart's tentative headed clearance to conjure up a bicycle kick from 30 yards that arched over every one of England's defenders as it found the unguarded net. It was not just a moment of breathtaking athleticism, but an equally remarkable example of flamboyance and improvisation that left everyone that witnessed it stunned.
So, in recognition of that remarkable strike, we look back at ten other phenomenal acrobatic strikes (criteria: feet must be above the head at some point in the shooting motion) from football history.
Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid v America de Cali)
The Colombian has not-so-secretly emerged as arguably the finest out-and-out striker in world football over the last 12 months or so, and goals like this only underline the multitude of reasons why.
Direct from a deep corner, Falcao gets himself off the ground to rifle ball into the net, a combination of brute force and deft movement. The powers-that-be at FIFA liked it so much that they nominated it for the Puskas Goal of the Season award. Who can argue with that?
Mauro Bressan (Fiorentina v Barcelona)
Undoubtedly the most similar goal to Ibrahimovic's on this list - and (whisper it, though) it might just be even better.
The difference with this strike is that, while Bressan remains a good 30 yards from goal, the Barcelona goalkeeper is rooted to his line. That does not stop Bressan going for glory when the ball pops up in front of him as, with his back to goal, he unleashes a looping strike that beats the goalkeeper and goes in off the underside of the crossbar.
Trevor Sinclair (QPR v Barnsley)Type 'Trevor Sinclair' into YouTube, and the video website instinctly knows what you are looking for - that goal. The midfielder went on to achieve many things in the game, both good and bad (gaining international recognition with England; shaving off those dreadlocks), but this was arguably the high watermark in his career.
Facing Barnsley in the FA Cup, Sinclair scored a goal of such athleticism and majesty that people instantly hark back to it to this day, some 15 years later. Getting the cleanest of connections (after getting a serious amount of air with his jump), Sinclair rifled the ball past the goalkeeper before the defender - in relatively close attendance - marking him even knew what had happened. One of the best of the genre.
Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United v Liverpool)
We are choosing this strike over Wayne Rooney's against Manchester City because we like nothing more than being deliberately controversial. But did the Bulgarian shank this one off his shin? No, he did not. And, more importantly, did you even think Berbatov could get his feet above his head? No, we did not.
This strike, the second of a sumptuous hat-trick in a 3-2 win no less, was a masterful blend of technique and execution. One touch to flick the ball up, another to carve it in off the bar with a clinical overhead kick. Dimi, we adore you.
Maxim Ivaschuk (Zarya Krasnoznamensk v Zarya Krasnoznamensk)
This is Ibrahimovic's sort of acrobatic goal - extremely nonchalant. In a training match for Zarya Krasnoznamensk's senior side against their youth team, Maxim Ivaschuk doesn't even bother to get his other foot off the ground as he contorts his body to backheel the ball as it hangs behind his head, barely reacting as it loops into the net.
Then again, it seems the senior side was 3-2 down to their youth team counterparts at the time of the strike. Which probably wasn't the outcome the manager was intending when he came up with the idea.
And some acrobatics from other sports
- American Football - this is how you score a touchdown. And he sticks the landing!
- Rugby Union - We'd like to see more try-scoring attempts like this from the England boys.
- Lacrosse - This just seems like flagrant showboating. More of this please.
- American Football - This one might be even better than the one above. Going in blind!
Marco van Basten (Ajax v Den Bosch)
We have some vague notion that Van Basten is more famous for another goal - on an altogether grander stage - but this one is still pretty special.
One of the finest strikers to ever grace the game, Van Basten finds the top edge of the top corner with a technically perfect overhead kick that the keeper never even had a hope of stopping.
Victor Moses (Crystal Palace v Barnsley)
One touch. Overhead kick. In off the post. Goalkeeper walks away in utter dejection.
Check. Check. Check. Check. This goal - by the current Chelsea forward - ticks all those boxes in a very pleasing manner.
Leke James (Aalesund v FK Tirana)
We like this goal because, as the video illustrates, there might be the biggest difference between the quality of the opening goal of the game (terrible) and the second (actually pretty good). What we also like is Leke James' dance moves after the goal - and the fact he then applauds the crowd. What is he applauding them for?! He was the one who did all the hard work!
Rivaldo (Barcelona v Valencia
His star has arguably been eclipsed by Ronaldinho and, more recently, Lionel Messi, but for a period Rivaldo was the embodiment of Barca and joga bonita. This was one of the forward's finest goals for the blaugrana, with a sort of perfect straight-down-the-line connection with the ball that is a delight to watch.
Of course, he would ruin his legacy a few years later with a diabolical piece of simulation in the World Cup, but that's a debate for another occasion...
Joe Hart (Manchester City v , er, Manchester City)
To be perfectly honest, this one should not make the grade - being that it was in training and all. But there are mitigating reasons as to why we feel it warrants a place in this list (plus, of course, the fact it is our list and we can do what we damn well please).
So, yes, the level of competition may not have been the highest. But how often have you seen a goalkeeper score an overhead kick? More importantly, how often have you seen anyone - goalkeeper or outfield player - set themselves up for the overhead kick with help of the crossbar? A rare feat indeed.