There was no shortage of beautiful or meaningful goals this weekend. Matt Lowton's had plenty of both qualities, and it might have been worth as much as $50 million to his team.
Matt Lowton, a 23-year-old defender, ripped the net with a thundering long-distance goal Saturday as Aston Villa won 3-1 at Stoke City in the English Premier League. Lowton's goal, the match winner, directly helped Villa move out of the relegation zone, and thus, as the New York Times writes, it could be worth upward of $50 million if the club can avoid relegation.
"You won't see a better goal in Europe," said Villa manager Paul Lambert (via AVFC.co.uk), "let alone in Britain."
The field of contenders for this week's honor was formidable. In Germany, Bastian Schweinsteiger flicked Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title with an astounding six weeks to spare. And in Turkey, Didier Drogba tested the laws of physics and probability with an outrageous, sky-scraping lob.
In Italy, Antonio Di Natale hit a superb volley, and Pescara's Emmanuel Cascione powered in a long-range drive against Juventus. In Spain, Gonzalo Higuain helped propel Real Madrid to a rout with a volley of his own.
But Lowtown's strike matched Schweinsteiger's for its value to his team. (No, we're not saying the Premier League relegation race is as important as a Bundesliga title. It's just that Lowton's goal meant so much to Villa and could end up being crucial to the club's future.) And besides, it was absolutely stunning to watch.
With the victory, Villa moved up to 16th place in the Premier League table, three points clear of the relegation zone. Stoke, meanwhile, are only one point ahead of Villa in 14th.
What do you think, readers? Was Lowton's goal your best of the weekend? Let us know in the comments.