UEFA Champions League: The 11 Best Free-Kick Goals in Champions League History
The UEFA Champions League has been around since 1955. Though it previously has been known as the European Champion Clubs' Cup or the European Cup and the annual tournament's format was tweaked in 1992, it boasts an incredibly rich history full of the greatest clubs and players in recent soccer history.
From Di Stefano to Zidane, Puskas to Messi, it has featured goals from the most talented superstars in the sport.
But in honor of the "Exhibition of Champions" currently on display at Wembley Stadium—featuring, among other items, "prize exhibits including inspirational Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard’s 2005 captain’s armband, David Beckham’s jersey from Manchester United’s nail-biting victory in 1999 and Graeme Souness’ three winners’ medals from ’78, ’81 and ’84"—we wanted to put together some of the greatest of those goals.
Here are the 11 best free-kick goals in UEFA Champions League history...or at least since 1992.
Enjoy them and be sure to let us know which you think deserves top billing.
11. Alessandro Del Piero vs. Zenit St Petersburg, 2008
Alessandro Del Piero marked Juventus’ return to the Champions League after a three-year absence with a goal to earn the Italian side a narrow 1-0 win.
With only 14 minutes to go, Pavel Nedved was brought down 30 meters out, and Del Piero stepped up to fire in an unstoppable, dipping, swerving free kick.
10. Sinisa Mihajlovic vs. Bayer Leverkusen, 1999
9. Shunsuke Nakamura vs. Manchester United, 2006
This game was a cagey affair for 80 minutes and looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw.
However, the game burst to life when Japanese international Shunsuke Nakamura curled a sensational 30-yard strike into the top corner.
What made it even sweeter was that United missed a last-minute penalty, and the win sent Celtic through to the knockout phase of the Champions League.
8. Thierry Henry vs. Roma, 2002
Thierry Henry produced one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt in this 3-1 victory away to Roma in 2002.
Henry completed his hat trick with this free kick and showed sublime technique to twirl it high past Antonioli's right hand.
7. David Beckham vs. Barcelona, 1998
How can you have a free kick top 10 and not include one by David Beckham?
During their famous 1998-99 campaign, Manchester United played out to classic 3-3 draws against Barcelona in the group stages.
David Beckham scored this trademark free kick in the first game at Old Trafford to put United 3-2 up.
6. Juninho vs. Bayern Munich, 2003
Juninho scored loads of spectacular free kicks in the Champions League over the years, but his best was against Bayern Munich in 2003.
He was up against Oliver Kahn, considered the world’s best goalkeeper at the time, from over 30 yards out, but his free kick dipped just at the right moment to sail over the stranded Kahn and go in off the post.
5. Andrea Pirlo vs. Schalke, 2005
Andrea Pirlo is a dead-ball specialist and has scored numerous spectacular free kicks throughout his illustrious career.
His best Champions League free kick came in the group stages in 2005. Pirlo set Milan on their way to a 3-2 victory at the San Siro when he curled in a spectacular free kick just before halftime.
His masterful right-footed effort flew into the top corner and left Schalke’s Frank Rost rooted to the spot.
4. Rivaldo vs. Fenerbahce, 2001
3. Hugo Almeida vs. Inter Milan, 2005
Portuguese star Hugo Almeida scored one of the Champions League’s most memorable strikes with this net-busting free kick for Porto. The thing to admire about this free kick is the sheer power.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Arsenal, 2009
Manchester United took a 1-0 lead from Old Trafford to the Emirates in this semifinal second leg, and everyone expected a tight match.
United had other ideas, though, and produced a virtuoso display to win 3-1 on the night.
Maybe Manuel Almunia could have moved quicker for United’s second but take nothing away from Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick. It went in from fully 40 yards out and was so sweetly struck and dipping that it totally startled the Arsenal keeper.
1. Mikael Nilsson vs. PSV Eindhoven, 1993
One of the best Champions League free kicks came in the competition’s very first season.
The curl around the wall from Gothenburg’s Mikael Nilsson has to be seen to be believed.