Monday 31 December 2018, 08:50

Stunning strikes that lit up 2018

Every year serves up a long list of spectacular goals, and 2018 has been no exception.

Everyone has their favourites, depending on style preferences, personal tastes and where their sympathies might lie. For some people, there is nothing better than a 40-metre thunderbolt, while for others it is goals that come at the end of long and intricate moves that set the pulses racing.

By way of ending the year on a light-hearted note, has drawn up a list of some of the finest goals of 2018. It includes something for everyone, so sit back and enjoy!

Benjamin Pavard, FRANCE v Argentina, 30 June The full-back’s sublime volley against La Albiceleste in the Round of 16 at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ levelled the match at 2-2 and revived the eventual world champions, who ran out 4-3 winners. A deadly accurate, swerving strike that proved the turning point of the game, Pavard’s long-range gem was voted the Hyundai Goal of the Tournament.

Gareth Bale, REAL MADRID v Liverpool, 26 May Bicycle-kicks are always a spectacular sight, as footballer meets ball in mid-air, and rarely as spectacular as the one Cristiano Ronaldo conjured up against Juventus. Though both strikes were shortlisted for the FIFA Puskás Award, the Welshman’s effort was that bit more special, coming as it did in the UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool. Having come on in the second half with the match all-square at 1-1, Bale's acrobatics left the Reds defenders nonplussed and sent the Madrid fans wild with delight. He scored again to make it 3-1, as his club chalked up their 13th European Cup/Champions League triumph.

Juan Fernando Quintero, RIVER PLATE v Boca Juniors, 9 December The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final was no ordinary match, with the two giants of Argentinian football battling it out at the Santiago Bernabeu. A typically South American encounter was settled by the Colombian’s stunning extra-time strike. His speed in getting his shot off and his pinpoint precision proved crucial as his side took a 2-1 lead en route to securing their fourth Libertadores crown.

Lionel Messi, ARGENTINA v Nigeria, 26 June The No10’s only goal at Russia 2018 was in the running for the FIFA Puskás Award, which Mo Salah eventually won with a goal scored in 2017. With La Albiceleste fighting for their survival in the group phase, their captain showcased his skills in all their glory. The manner in which Messi cushioned Ever Banega’s raking pass on his thigh and then, with the ball hanging in the air, guided it into position for his superb finish, spoke volumes of his truly exceptional ability.

Lucy Bronze, OLYMPIQUE LYONNAISE v Manchester City, 29 April This UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final was decided by an exceptional strike. The England international ghosted into space on the right to round off a flowing move by the eventual champions, firing home a stunning volley with the top of her right boot.

Ilkay Gundogan, MANCHESTER CITY v Manchester United, 11 November Great derby goals are always remembered, and City fans will never forget the German’s strike, which came at the end of a move comprising 44 passes. Though United were back in the game at 2-1, the home side kept their composure and the ball, for fully one minute and 55 seconds, after which Gundogan popped up to score their third of the afternoon.

Ousmane Dembele, BARCELONA v Tottenham Hotspur, 11 December This Spain v England duel at the Camp Nou was one of the pick of the group-phase encounters in the 2018/19 Champions League. The Frenchman put the hosts ahead with a superb solo breakaway goal that had it all. After dispossessing a Spurs defender, he ran half the length of the pitch, showing lightning pace on the ball before putting the brakes on, switching the ball from right foot to left and slotting home.

Irene Lopez, SPAIN v New Zealand, 28 November The year’s two FIFA Women’s World Cup competitions produced lots of great goals. You can watch the ten best strikes from France 2018 here and the ten best from Uruguay 2018 here. One of the finest of them all was scored by the Spanish midfielder, who settled her side’s U-17 World Cup semi-final in Uruguay with a spectacular half-volley, the key to which was the way she positioned herself to strike the ball.