Top 10 Goals of the Weekend (March 23-25, 2012)
In the world of football, the past few days have redefined what constitutes a crazy weekend.
No longer is it when you have a few too many and wake up the next morning in a strange place.
No, it's when Chelsea and Tottenham bore you half to death in London's sweltering 65° weather and Peter Crouch wows you with a graceful volley.
Let's shake out the cobwebs from the blur that was these few days of football and look over the 10 best goals.
10. Lionel Messi/Alexis Sanchez: Barcelona vs. Mallorca
This list gets started off by some confusion: Who scored this goal?
Lionel Messi's in-swinging free-kick was clearly not meant to be a shot, but rather a cross.
Alexis Sanchez made a nice run at the ball and did well to challenge the keeper for it.
However, did he get his head on the ball?
At first, the goal was given to Alexis, but is now being counted for Messi.
Is this another instance toward Mourinho's anti-Madrid conspiracy theory, as Messi is handed another tally towards the Pichichi?
Probably not, it's just hard to tell whose goal that should be.
In any case, it was a nice cross that caught the keeper out and deserves some recognition.
9. Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid vs. Real Sociedad
This goal gave Ronaldo 100 goals for Real Madrid; a number he has incredibly reached in less than three seasons for the Spanish club.
And what a typical Ronaldo goal it was: A perfectly timed run gets him in space, his pace gets him one-on-one with the keeper, and he is able to fool everyone and calmly slot past into the far post.
Very nice goal.
Ronaldo later got another, tying up the race for the Pichichi and adding even more drama to the upcoming run-in.
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: AC Milan vs. Roma
AC Milan got a big win against Roma in preparation for Barca, thanks to this goal by their huge Swede.
Ibrahimovic timed a run perfectly and got into the area one-on-one with the keeper.
From there, it was not one of his more clinical finishes, as he attempted a chip that went at far too great of an angle.
However, because the keeper was charging at him when he chipped, Ibra just had to win a header to put his club up a goal.
Maybe it's not the prettiest goal on here, but as it was a solo effort, a winner, and in the final ten minutes of an important match, it is quite impressive.
7. Vagner Love: Flamengo vs. Volta Redonda
Brazilian Vagner Love back-heeled a ball into the net for Flamengo.
So, how is it possible that the goal is only here on the list.
Well, watch the play (starts at about 20 seconds into the clip).
The goal comes after a swift break by Flamengo, as forward Diego Mauricio dribbles hard past defenders and into the box.
After the keeper is pulled out of position in an attempt to cut off Mauricio's angle, the Brazilian forward links up with Vagner Love with a nice pass.
Now, Love was all alone with not a defender in sight and the keeper so out of position that he had an open net in front of him.
For all intents and purposes, Love could have squared himself and taken a normal shot; in fact, he probably had enough time to take a touch if he wanted to.
To me, that taints his back-heel, making it a bit of a show-off trick move.
It still shows class and ability, it's just that I would rather it have come about more naturally.
6. Karim Benzema: Real Madrid vs. Real Sociedad
Benzema upstaged his Madrid teammate's 100th goal with this wonderful chip.
Sure, it was poor defense to allow him to receive the ball so easily and tentative goalkeeping to not immediately challenge him for the ball.
However, Benzema still had to take advantage of the other side's errors, which he did in fantastic form.
In fact, this is a very similar build-up to Ibrahimovic's goal (at number eight on this list), but Benzema was able to finish it with the first touch whereas Ibra's chip forced him to scramble to get another.
In the end, the control and height on the chip make this quite the goal to behold.
5. Blerim Dzemaili: Napoli vs. Catania
In an important match for Napoli's Champions League hopes for next season, Blerim Dzemaili was able to open the scoring and give the Neapolitan's a 60th minute lead with a blast into the top corner of the net.
The goal came after a great scramble for the ball (which starts at about 1:30 in the video above).
After a few tackles away by the Catania defense, the ball trickled into space a few yards outside of the box.
The Swiss midfielder Dzemaili then ran onto the ball and rocketed a shot at the net.
Keeper Juan Pablo Carrizo was able to get his hand on the ball, but the pace of the shot was such that he could only push the ball further into the top corner of the netting.
The game didn't play out well for Napoli in the end, as they took a 2-0 lead soon after this goal only to squander it and only pick up a point.
However, this goal was a beauty.
4. Mikel Arteta: Arsenal vs. Aston Villa
The match between Arsenal and Aston Villa had been decided for quite some time when Mikel Arteta hit a wonder-strike in stoppage time.
With a free kick from about 25 yards out, Arteta unleashed a monstrous blast across the face of goal and into the top corner of the goal.
The ball had almost no spin on it, enabling power that left Shay Given no chance.
The goal may have proven moot toward the outcome of the match, but it was certainly a heck of a golazo.
Watch it here.
3. Olivier Giroud: Montpellier vs. Saint-Etienne
With top stop in Ligue 1 on the line, Montpellier were able to defeat Saint-Etienne and pass Paris Saint-Germain atop the table thanks to this stunner by Olivier Giroud.
With neither side able to find the back of the net through the first 89 minutes of the match, the ball fell nicely to Montpellier's striker Giroud.
The Frenchman took the ball off the volley and bounced it past Stephane Ruffier and into the bottom corner of the net.
It was a great strike and an important one in French football.
2. Kornel Salata: FC Rostov vs. Spartak Nalchik
In a Russian Premier League battle between FC Rostov and Spartak Nalchik, a central defender stole all of the headlines.
A half hour into the match and with the score 1-0 for Rostov, a Rostov corner kick was punched clear by Nalchik keeper Alexander Budakov.
However, the ball fell out of the air only at the edge of the box, where Rostov central defender Kornel Salata jumped to meet it with a bicycle kick.
The beautiful strike bounced about three yards from goal, eluded Budakov's diving hand, and then ricocheted off the post and into the back of the net.
Further, it proved to be the winner for Rostov.
1. Peter Crouch: Stoke City vs. Manchester City
Not enough can be said about this goal.
I mean, it's Peter Crouch, whose every movement just screams the opposite of grace.
He's proved it to us time and again, though, that he has great skill with his feet.
And yet, it still takes us all off guard when he does this.
In a battle with Man City that the Citizens needed in order to keep pressure on their cross-town rivals, the match started dull and lacking in the final thirds.
That is, until the ball was booted down-field by Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic, headed on by Crouch, and then headed back toward the Englishman by Jermaine Pennant.
Like a spider playing hacky-sack, the gangly giant booted the ball up to himself and then released a shot at the City goal.
England's number one keeper, Joe Hart, read it the entire way, but the strike just could not be denied.
It blasted past Hart's outstretched hand and into the side-netting, giving Stoke a shock lead.
The match may have ended a draw, but Crouch's strike is right up there for goal of the season.
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