Get ready for the understatement of the New Year. Leighton Baines can kick a ball hard.
For proof, we present you with our Set Piece Video of the Day for this Thursday. Above, Everton's in-form English defender scorches a free kick through a wall and past a helpless keeper for a goal. Enjoy, over and over and over.
Now, here's the setting.
Everton visited Newcastle United on Wednesday in a midweek English Premier League match. The host Magpies took a 1-0 lead in the second minute through Papiss Cisse, seemingly dispelling any notion that the imminent departure of striker Demba Ba would have a negative effect.
With halftime looming, Baines stepped up to take a free kick with his famous left foot—are we justified in using the word "cultured" here?—and lashed a thunderbolt into Newcastle's net from long distance.
First, the ball flashed past the wall. It then bamboozled Newcastle keeper Tim Krul. Along the way, it bent and swerved seemingly in every direction except the one you would expect.
Everton went on to win 2-1. Afterward, Baines said the goal ranks among his best.
"It'll be up there. It was a good strike," he said (via EvertonFC.com). "It was quite far out to try to curl it, so I thought it best to put my foot through it. I just thought 'have it' and gave it a good whack, and it went in."
Others were a bit more effusive. Here's what B/R World Football editor Will Tidey tweeted:
Just seen it. Leighton be thy name. What a hit.— Will Tidey (@willtidey) January 3, 2013
Now it's your turn, readers. What did you think of Baines' strike? Will it rank among the season's best in May?