Gareth Bale's Screamer and the 10 Best Golazos from World Football This Weekend
Many European teams spent the weekend preparing for the new season in the United States of America. Often, friendlies between equally weighted major teams can be dull affairs, but for the most part, we were treated to some decent action—and some great goals.
Gareth Bale's superb long-range strike in California leads our list of the best golazos from the weekend, which also includes some great strikes from competitive matches...
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) vs. Inter Milan
Inter Milan faced European champions Real Madrid at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California on Saturday evening. The Italians emerged as the victors in a penalty shootout that immediately followed a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.
Gareth Bale opened the scoring after 11 minutes when he picked up a loose ball inside the centre circle and the Nerazzurri gave him all the space in the world to advance and unleash a screamer from 25 yards.
Clearly, the Welshman is shaping up nicely for another big season in Spain.
Miralem Pjanic (Roma) vs. Manchester United
Manchester United faced Roma in Denver on Saturday, and apparently the high altitude was conducive to some brilliant goals.
The Red Devils went three goals ahead thanks to a prolific spate in the first half, but the Giallorossi's Miralem Pjanic bagged an impressive consolation in the 75th minute.
Spotting United keeper Ben Amos off his line, the Bosnian had a poke from well inside his own half.
According to The Daily Mail, Pjanic's practise on the gridiron earlier this week might have put him in the mood for a long-range conversion.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) vs. Roma
Wayne Rooney scored a brace during Manchester United's Colorado warm-up, the latter of which was a penalty. The former, however, was something very special indeed.
In the 35th minute, the England striker picked the ball up around 30 yards from goal, facing away from his target. He turned, took a few paces and curled a shot into the top left corner that goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski had no chance of saving.
Rooney's penalty just before the halfway mark meant Louis Van Gaal's side had scored 10 unanswered goals in 135 minutes of play (statistic via The Guardian)
Juan Mata (Manchester United) vs. Roma
Wayne Rooney played an exceptional game against Roma on Saturday, and not just because of his brace.
The 28-year-old assisted Juan Mata for United's second goal with a pinpoint pass from inside his own half. It landed perfectly on Juan Mata's foot on the edge of the Roma penalty area, and the Spaniard duly flicked it over Skorupski to score off the Polish shot stoppers' left post.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
Bayern Munich have been warming up for the season ahead by participating in the Telekom Cup alongside Hamburg, Wolfsburg and Saturday's opponents Borussia Monchengladbach.
Die Roten progressed via a penalty shootout when the match finished 2-2, and the opening goal of the game came from Bayern's brand-new forward Robert Lewandowski.
In the 29th minute, the Pole found himself in the area with four defenders and the goalkeeper to beat. Somehow, he maintained possession and had the inspiration to send an outrageous chip into the net.
Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
Bayern's Franck Ribery made his welcome return to action in the Monchengladbach game, following a back injury that kept the Frenchman out of the World Cup.
The celebrated winger marked his return in style by doubling the advantage following Lewandowski's opener.
Ribery's golazo was also a chip, scored from a tight angle after he ran down the left flank and beat a defender.
Deco (Porto) vs. Barcelona
Deco was given a testimonial match at the Do Dragao Stadium in Porto on Friday evening, with a classic Porto 2004 side taking on Barcelona from 2006. The astute among you will note that the Portuguese playmaker featured in both sides when they won the Champions League.
The match—featuring the likes of Leo Messi, Samuel Eto'o, Mark Van Bommel and Edgar Davids—finished 4-4, with Deco scoring in both halves for both sides.
In the 89th minute, he managed to send a beautiful volley home, and the referee had the good sense to make this the last kick of the game, giving the retired Portugal international a fitting send-off from the beautiful game.
Federico Higuain (Columbus Crew) vs. New England Revolution
Among all the friendly action this weekend, there was some actual competitive football occurring in MLS. Columbus Crew emerged 2-1 winners against the New England Revolution on Saturday, thanks in part to an opening goal from Federico Higuain.
A few minutes before half-time, the Argentinean forward took a free kick from around 30 yards out that curled beautifully into the top right corner.
It was his seventh goal in 17 starts this season. The 29-year-old clearly has a penchant for golazos—check out the chip he scored against Portland back in May.
Dejan Meleg (SC Cambuur) vs. PAOK
Higuain's free kick in the States may have been superb, but it was nowhere near as audacious as this effort.
SC Cambuur played out a 1-1 draw with Greek Superleague side PAOK on Saturday, with the Eredivisie team getting on the scoresheet thanks to a brilliant dead ball from midfielder Dejan Meleg. From at least 40 yards out, the Serbian hit a lofty free kick that dipped into the top corner.
No keeper in the world would have had a chance of saving that.
Gustavo Ramirez (Mineros De Zacatecas) vs. Necaxa
As you may have hoped, we saved the most outrageous golazo until last.
Mineros de Zacatecas faced Necaxa in the Ascenso MX, the second tier of Mexican football, on Friday night.
Zacatecas took just four seconds to get on the scoresheet after Paraguayan forward Gustavo Ramirez punted a long shot straight from kick-off.
The league later confirmed it was the fastest goal ever scored in Mexican league football history.