Messi's Magic and the 10 Best Golazos from World Football This Weekend
Barcelona may have faced Elche with only 10 men in the second half of their La Liga encounter on Sunday, but they compensated with their secret weapon: an in-form Leo Messi.
The Argentine masterminded the 3-0 victory, during which he scored a Messi-esque golazo. The Atomic Flea's return to form leads our list of the 10 best goals from the weekend...
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) vs. Elche
Leo Messi might not have been at his dazzling best during the World Cup in Brazil, but the diminutive Argentinean didn't take long to remind us of his phenomenal skills in La Liga.
During Barcelona's 2014-15 league opener against Elche, Messi scored two of the Catalan side's three goals. In doing so, he became the first La Liga player to score a brace on four consecutive league openers and the second to score one or more goals in five consecutive league openers (as per @MisterChiping).
The Blaugrana superstar's first goal was typically excellent, but his second was quite spectacular. After picking up a pass from Dani Alves on the edge of the box, Messi danced past three defenders and slotted into the far corner.
Messi's La Liga goal tally now stands at 245, just six behind Telmo Zarra's all-time record (as per @MessiStats).
Ivica Olic (VfL Wolfsburg) vs. Bayern Munich
See the goal at [0.45] in the clip above
Bayern Munich kicked off the 2014-15 Bundesliga by hosting VfL Wolfsburg. The Bavarians went 2-0 up via Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben, but in the 52nd minute, the visitors pulled one back in spectacular style.
Ivica Olic beat his marker on the turn before beautifully beating Manuel Neuer from around 20 yards.
Mauro Zarate (West Ham) vs. Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace's tempestuous start to the season continued on Saturday when London rivals West Ham earned a 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park.
The best goal of the afternoon came from Mauro Zarate, who opened the scoring after 34 minutes.
The 27-year-old Hammers debutant connected with a looping clearance with the outside of his right boot, blasting an unstoppable volley past Palace 'keeper Julian Speroni.
Stewart Downing (West Ham) vs. Crystal Palace
Zarate wasn't the only Hammer to bag a golazo in Croydon on Saturday.
Just three minutes after the Argentine struck, Stewart Downing slotted home with his left foot from 20 yards, having made an impressive run down the right wing towards goal.
Downing's individual effort capped a superb afternoon for the 30-year-old midfielder, who earned WhoScored.com's Man of the Match award.
Kallum Higginbotham (Partick Thistle) vs. Hamilton
Hamilton Academical's visit to Partick Thistle in the Scottish Premiership saw three goals in the final five minutes, starting with a brilliant strike from Partick's Kallum Higginbotham.
The 25-year-old controlled a throw-in and blasted a volley into the top-right corner.
Gorka Iraizoz (Athletic Bilbao) vs. Malaga
Everybody loves to see a goalkeeper score a golazo, but sadly, this one from La Liga was controversially ruled out. However, it's worth mentioning in this list regardless.
Athletic Bilbao were 1-0 down to a 10-man Malaga side on Saturday when Basque goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz came up for a set piece in stoppage time.
The stopper scored a powerful header, but for no particular reason, it was almost immediately disallowed. According to Inside Spanish Football, even Malaga's manager was not sure why it didn't count.
Nacer Chadli (Tottenham) vs. Queens Park Rangers
Harry Redknapp didn't enjoy a happy return to White Hart Lane on Sunday as his feckless Queens Park Rangers side conceded four unanswered goals to Tottenham.
Nacer Chadli enjoyed one of his better performances in a Spurs shirt, opening the scoring after 12 minutes and bagging another before the interval. The latter was a superbly taken header, made better by Erik Lamela's darting run and assist and some excellent build-up play.
According to 101 Great Goals, Chadli's header followed 48 passes—a sequence twice as long as any that preceded a goal in the Premier League last season.
Ganso (Sao Paulo) vs. Santos
Sao Paulo beat fierce rivals Santos 2-1 in the Brazilian Campeonato on Saturday, with Alexandre Pato bagging the winner with two minutes on the clock.
The best strike of the day, however, was Paulo Henrique Ganso's opener. In the 24th minute, the midfielder picked up the ball around 12 yards out with his back to goal and proceeded to smash an unstoppable volley over his own shoulder.
Ganso may have had mixed feeling about the wonder goal, seeing as he left Santos for Sao Paulo in 2012.
Matias Alustiza (Pachuca) vs. Atlas
CF Pachuca defeated Atlas 3-1 in the Mexican top flight on Saturday evening, thanks to a hat-trick from striker Matias Alustiza.
The 30-year-old's most formidable move was his second goal, which saw him effortlessly dribble past three challenges and the goalkeeper before casually placing the ball in the net.
Javier Lara (Eibar) vs. Real Sociedad
Eibar marked their La Liga debut with a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday.
The Basque minnows went ahead just before the break thanks to a stunning free kick from 28-year-old winger Javi Lara.
By beating the 'keeper from such a tight angle, Lara might just have bagged the greatest golazo of the weekend.
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