Here is a list of top five goals scored in UEFA Euro 2012 from the group stages. Ibrahimovic, Balotelli, Nasri, van der Vaart and Blaszczykowski have made the cut. Who is your pick of the lot?
The ongoing edition of the Euros has certainly made for a great viewing so far. By all means it has been one of the most entertaining international competitions in the recent memory. All the eight quarter-final places have been hard-earned by the qualified teams after a thoroughly competitive group stage. All the four groups were tightly poised after the two round of games and both the places had still remained for anybodyai??i??s taking barring a couple of teams.
The entertainment quotient was on a high as some mesmerizing goals were scored by the whoai??i??s who of European football putting their incredible artistry on yet another display. TheHardTackle presents to you the five top-notch goals scored in the Euros so far, letting you witness the magic one more time.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) v France ai??i?? Group D
He thinks he is the best player in the world. While he is not known to be the wisest guy with the press, on the pitch, few may match his ascendancy. He could do little to justify his billing in the first two games against Ukraine and England. Sweden lost both and were already out of the tournament which made their ultimate group fixture largely pointless but pride is an attribute you may never dissociate from Ibrahimovic and he was in no mood to let go off the last opportunity to unleash his magic.
The French were hence on the receiving end of a magical Ibra volley early in the second half that installed the first thorn in their flesh for the night. After drawing as many as four defenders out of their position Ibra passed the ball wide on the right flank only to immediately receive a cross back from the corner. His positioning was so perfect he could finish the job with the first touch itself. Three French players had again occupied a line blocking the angle for the striker but Ibrahimovic could find a way out of it simply because he is Ibrahimovic. The precision in the volley was of highest level leaving Hugo Lloris with no chance to meet the ball despite stretching out wide completely. The goal was the first of the Swedenai??i??s 2-0 win over the French which allowed them to leave the tournament with some pride.
Ai??Mario Balotelli (Italy) v Republic of Ireland ai??i?? Group C
You either love him or you hate him. Ignore him, you definitely canai??i??t. Such is the vibrancy of the man Mario Balotelli is and his peculiar showing does not seem to end at all. After offering nothing of substance in the first two games against Spain and Croatia ai??i?? in fact having ruined a potential scoring opportunity against Spain ai??i?? the Manchester City star was dropped from the starting lineup by Cesare Prandelli and the much more proven poacher Antonio Di Natale was given the nod ahead of him.
However, you cannot keep this man out of show for long. Balotelli arrived on the stage in the second half at a time when Italy looked shaky while defending their one goal lead. The Irish were continuously troubling the Italian defence and the Azzurri knew anything short of three points will ascertain their group stage exit regardless of what happened in the other game. Towards the end of the second half, the excitement levels were still high and that is just when Balotelli felt he’d had enough of it.
It was the time to kill anymore anxiety and show the world who he truly is. Latching onto an Andrea Pirlo corner in the 90th minute, Balotelli put the ball back in the net with a fabulous overhead kick. His marker cut a sorry figure in the entire scenario as he was left watching the magic of Mario. The goal ensured Italy would progress to the next stage which once looked under threat.
Samir Nasri (France) v England ai??i?? Group D
France have not set the tournament on fire yet. Many hope they will peak on the right time but out of their three group games the only moment that may inspire some confidence among them is this wonderful equaliser scored by Samir Nasri in their opening game against England.
The French were trailing after England were put in front by Joleon Lescott but the parity was restored in the first half itself by none other than Arsenalai??i??s hero turned villain Samir Nasri. Receiving a pass from Patrice Evra from the left, Ribery found Nasri with space on the edge of the box and played a delicate pass to the Manchester City winger who wasted no time in drawing it a little forward before aiming at the goal from one of the most difficult angles with as many as five English players blocking his view. The strike however was perfect from start to finish and Joe Hart despite trying his best was easily beaten by the sheer power in the shot.
Rafael van der Vaart (Netherlands) v Portugal ai??i?? Group B
In an absolutely forgettable tournament, this was the only moment of ebullience that the Netherlands players and fans would prefer to remember. After losing both their games against Denmark and Germany, many felt the second best team from the last World Cup was fighting a lost cause. There were rumours of a rift among the camp full of mercurial individuals who all enjoy a grand status at their respective clubs. Coach Bert van Marwijk was criticized for his team selection that overly emphasized on defensive midfield which left out a player as inventive as Rafael van der Vaart.
It was time for the change and in came the Tottenham star for the regular captain Mark van Bommel. Wearing the armband, van der Vaart definitely had a point to prove and prove, he did within no time from the kick-off. This was always expected to be an open game since both the teams had all to play for and boasted of the most potent attacking threats in Europe. Netherlands instilled their supremacy on the proceedings first as Arjen Robben came in bombarding from the right flank outmuscling Fabio Coentrao and rather surprisingly passed the ball to van der Vaart rather than taking a shot himself.
The skipper for the day had to produce something special immediately and with his much fancied left foot, he slotted in an immensely powerful strike that completely stretched the Portuguese custodian Rui Patricio, to absolutely no avail, not to mention. The game eventually ended up being a Cristian Ronaldo show as Portuguese beat the Dutch 2-1 and secured themselves a place in the last eight but this particular goal made a statement for the quality the Dutch had in their ranks and made one wonder what could possibly have gone wrong with a unit as talented as this one.
Jacob Blaszczykowski (Poland) v Russia ai??i?? Group A
Hosts Poland unfortunately failed to advance beyond a tight looking Group A despite the enormous home support and surviving the first two games without a loss. Hot prospect Robert Lewandowski was undoubtedly the chief weapon in the Polish armoury but surprisingly the best moment in the tournament for the hosts came through their captain.
After conceding a rather disappointing draw against the Greeks on the opening day, the hosts were trailing to an inspired Russia courtesy a first half Alan Dzagoev goal. The Polish hopes however were far from curbed as they hit the Russians back on counter in the 57th minute when the skipper Blaszczykowski won the ball near the edge of the penalty box receiving a well measured pass that was placed between the two defenders. The captain immediately drifted inside and thudded in a powerful left foot shot that left Vyacheslav Malafeev and the entire Russian defence stunned.
The strike had the power, the precision and the perfect positioning on the top left corner. The goal certainly lifted the spirits of the Polish camp although it failed to earn them anything more than a point. The sheer quality of the strike will certainly list this goal as one of the better moments from the entire tournament.