13. Christian Benteke, Liverpool vs Man United (2015)
Slow-motion replays don’t do any favours to certain goals, and Benteke’s is one of them. On second viewing, it becomes clear that the ball wasn’t as far into the corner as it initially seemed, but this stunner is best appreciated in real time.
Only then can you get a true measure of the sheer power that the Belgian is able to generate, as he smashes the ball past David de Gea in front of the United fans.
12. Marco van Basten, Ajax vs Den Bosch (1984)
Van Basten was responsible for the greatest goal in European Championship history with his magnificent volley against the Soviet Union in 1988, and this strike for Ajax three years earlier was another example of his excellence.
Loitering on the shoulder of a Den Bosch defender, Van Basten bides his time as the Amsterdam giants progress the ball upfield. He then creates just enough space for himself as the cross is delivered, and fires a clean and controlled overhead kick in off the far post.
11. Dimitar Berbatov, Man United vs Liverpool (2010)
If Benteke’s bicycle kick at Old Trafford was primarily impressive for its power, Berbatov’s at the same ground was – surprise, surprise – rather more delicate. The cerebral striker, who must see the ball late as Wayne Rooney attempts to head it goalwards, cushions it on his thigh and then caresses it into the net via the underside of the bar, all while falling to the floor.
The dumbfounded disappointment of Liverpool’s players, who seem to look around for someone to blame before concluding that nothing more could have been done, says it all.
10. Trevor Sinclair, West Ham vs Derby (2001)
We know what you’re thinking: Sinclair’s famous bicycle kick goal came for QPR against Barnsley, didn’t it? That may be so, but this lesser-known (and strangely forgotten) effort for West Ham in 2001 is worthy of mention by its own merit.
The move preceding the finish is special enough: Paolo Di Canio chips a corner to Joe Cole on the edge of the box, with the England international taking a touch and lofting a cross towards the back post without the ball touching the ground. Sinclair, judging the trajectory of the delivery perfectly, then takes a few steps backwards and unleashes a phenomenal sideways strike into the far corner of the net.
9. Wayne Rooney, Man United vs Man City (2011)
Yes all right, it might have come off his shin, but you’d have to be a cold-hearted killjoy incapable of experiencing happiness to deny Rooney’s derby delight a place in the top 12 (well, either that or a Manchester City fan).
This was a goal out of absolutely nowhere – the England international was having a stinker up until that point – but also one which deserved to win such a high-profile game. Rooney does tremendously well to reconfigure his body as Nani’s centre takes a nick off Pablo Zabaleta, before thundering a bicycle kick past Joe Hart to win the match for Manchester United.
8. Rivaldo, Barcelona vs Valencia (2001)
There can’t be many better ways to complete your hat-trick than this. Controlling a clipped ball forward on his chest, Rivaldo seems to assess his options within a flash, before deciding that he might as well try to score with an overhead kick from the edge of the area.
Outrageous - particularly as this late winner secured a Champions League qualification spot for Barcelona, just minutes away from the club missing out.
7. Ronaldinho, Barcelona vs Villarreal (2006)
Even with something as intrinsically spectacular as a bicycle kick, Ronaldinho still found a way to put his own twist on it. Contorting his body into a position that many humans would find impossible, the Brazil international controls the ball with his chest and, with his spine still intact, instinctively swivels around and converts acrobatically to send the Camp Nou wild.
6. Trevor Sinclair vs Barnsley (1997)
Don't worry, you're not experiencing deja vu – here's the more familiar Sinclair effort from the 1996/97 FA Cup fourth round that simply can't be ignored.
The then-QPR man has absolutely no right to do anything with John Spencer's aimless high cross towards the Barnsley penalty area, but knows exactly what he's going to do as the ball plummets from the sky. With his back to goal on the edge of the box, Sinclair gets airborne in front of his bemused marker to fire a staggering overhead effort that nestles unsaveably high in the net of Tykes' helpless goalkeeper David Watson. Ludicrous.
5. Mauro Bressan, Fiorentina vs Barcelona (1999)
The build-up to Bressan’s effort is hardly the tidiest, but in a way that makes his strike stand out even more.
When the ball eventually sits up invitingly for the Italian midfielder, there’s still plenty of work to be done; the task proves to be within his capabilities, as Bressan directs a staggering bicycle kick into the far corner. Watch out for Barcelona goalkeeper Francesc Arnau crashing into the post and tripping over in his attempts to keep it out.
4. Manuel Negrete, UNAM vs Puebla (1984)
Negrete netted a more memorable overhead kick for Mexico in the 1986 World Cup, but this beats it on a purely technical level. First bringing a cross down on his chest, the midfielder is forced to readjust his body before taking his next touch, which sees him delicately loop the ball over the head of an onrushing defender.
The midfielder then sets himself up for the piece de resistance with another chest flick, before finding the corner with a wonderful overhead strike. It all happened within three seconds; the poor goalkeeper didn’t move once.
3. Philippe Mexes, Milan vs Anderlecht (2012)
The man responsible for one of the sweetest ever shots to not find the net did get one over the line in remarkable fashion against Anderlecht in 2012.
Initially expecting to contend for a header as Milan line up a free-kick 35 yards from goal, the defender checks his run, takes a touch on his chest and pulls the trigger with a preposterous bicycle kick from just outside the penalty area. The fact that it’s Philippe flaming Mexes makes this one all the more special.
2. Emre Can, Liverpool vs Watford (2017)
There has perhaps never been a goal as ill-fitting to the game in which it occurred as this. Little of note had happened in the opening 45 minutes of Liverpool’s meeting with Watford on Monday, but Can filled those punters who had sneaked off to beat the queue for half-time pies with regret as he gave his side the lead in astonishing fashion in first-half stoppage time.
Most of the efforts on this list come from near-standing starts, but the German somehow manages to execute a bicycle kick of such brilliance while on the move. A truly stupendous piece of skill.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden vs England (2012)
Even when Joe Hart fails to get a clean connection on his clearing header, there doesn't appear to be too much imminent danger for England. The two covering defenders successfully narrow the angle by retreating towards the line to try to block off any potential early shot, while Ibrahimovic has his back to goal and is almost 30 yards away from the target.
Such facts mattered not. The Swede, with a combination of instinct and audacity, takes a few steps towards the ball before sending it back in the other direction in breathtaking fashion, with the striker somehow able to find the optimum combination of power and accuracy for his fourth goal of the night.
(Video includes ludicrous Stan Collymore commentary for good measure.)
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