11 Best Goals from Tuesday's World Cup Qualifiers
One of the few benefits to prolonged international breaks is that we get to watch a ton of football. Even if the teams we're watching don't mean a single thing to us, many more games are available at the same time than normal.
Out of all that usually come some great goals, and, while we haven't exactly been treated to a feast of delicious strikes, there have been some really good ones during World Cup qualifying.
Let's look at 11 of the best.
Shinji Okazaki vs. Iraq
This goal happens in the flash of an eye, but its real beauty is in the volleyed cross across the face of goal—a tremendous bit of skill that allows for the easy headed finish.
Lionel Messi vs. Paraguay
I don't think this really surprises anyone anymore.
Another day, another golazo from Lionel Messi, as he applies his velvet touch to a free-kick from some distance to score in a way that few else in the world can.
He truly makes the astounding seem routine.
Yevhen Konoplyanka vs. England
Video here (goal starts at 2:12).
In one of the most insane goals of all the World Cup qualifiers, Yevhen Konoplyanka almost won the game for Ukraine against England with a superb effort that curled beautifully around Joe Hart and sailed into the top corner of the goal.
Christophe Jallet vs. Belarus
Christophe Jallet really had no business attempting a shot from his position on the right flank, yet he somehow rifled his shot past Belarus' goalkeeper to double France's lead.
Jallet might never score a better goal in his career—that combination of power and precision is really something to behold.
Edin Dzeko vs. Latvia
I know that Latvia are far from the best national side out there, but just watch how Edin Dzeko leaves two defenders on the seat of their pants at the same time and get a tissue to wipe away the drool.
This might not have been the flashiest goal, but it certainly showed the dichotomy in skill between the best and the rest.
James Rodriguez vs. Chile
James Rodriguez obviously has quite a way with free-kicks because this was one worthy of Ronaldo or Messi.
From at least 25 yards out, he just belts one to the side of the goalkeeper to equalize for Colombia against Chile, and that would start the Colombians down the road to what would eventually turn out to be a 3-1 win.
Belozoglu Emre vs. Estonia
Emre really makes this finish look a heck of a lot easier than it really was; once he got his shot off, there was no chance of the goalkeeper stopping it.
Taking the ball into his feet, he simply smashed a drive into the top of the net, which gave Turkey an early lead that they would not relinquish.
Carlos Ruiz vs. Antigua and Barbuda
This goal is the very definition of nuts. On the half-volley, Carlos Ruiz puts all of his leg into this strike and he could not have placed it more perfectly, right into the upper 90.
Obviously, no goalkeeper would have had a chance at saving this rocket, so I prefer to simply appreciate the majesty of the technique involved in the goal—the whole thing really is something to savor.
Alexander Kerzhakov vs. Israel
I love seeing perfect free-kicks, and there is nothing that Kerzhakov could have done better on this one.
Dudu Aouate did not even have to move to try to save this curler that sliced its way over the wall and lodged itself firmly in the back of the net.
Kerzhakov's ability to get the ball up and down while curving it from a slightly wide position is really impressive here.
Luton Shelton vs. USA
As you might know by now, I have a bit of a soft spot for perfectly taken spot kicks and this one is exception.
No one saw this stunner from Jamaica coming, which ultimately sunk the U.S. in Kingston, and Tim Howard was visibly ticked off that he was so badly beaten by the skill of a supposed inferior.
He shouldn't have been; Shelton ripped one of the best strikes of his career—and one that Jamaican fans will remember for a long time.
Guillaume Gillet vs. Croatia
Let's round off our list with my personal favorite strike from the last few days, which came from Guillaume Gillet for Belgium against Croatia.
Gillet saw that the ball bounced perfectly for him, took a shot, and hoped for the best. Thankfully for Belgium, he got the best.
What came off was the best strike of his career, which swerved away from his foot and nestled perfectly into the upper right corner of the goal, leaving every Belgian fan and player—including himself—utterly stunned.
Just remember to hold your jaw up when you watch.