Marvellous Matic’s Wembley wonder
Nemanja Matic’s Wembley thunderbolt nominated for FIFA Puskás Award
Final goal of 4-2 win as former club Chelsea progressed to FA Cup final
**Matic: “A great goal, but not the best I’ve ever scored."
As Chelsea booked their place in the English FA Cup final in April 2017 after a 4-2 victory over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, there was one goal that undoubtedly stood above them all. Serbia international Nemanja Matic bagged the final goal of the Blues’ 4-2 win at Wembley – and in emphatic fashion.
Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard found Matic in plenty of space outside the area and the now-Manchester United player unleashed a left-footed thunderbolt which goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was powerless to stop. As it left his boot, the 29-year-old knew it was destined to hit the back of the net.
"I thought then that it was a goal," Matic said after the semi-final. "But most important is that we won the game."
Around Wembley, jaws dropped upon seeing the defensive midfielder’s rocket and none more than team-mate Kurt Zouma’s. Watching from the sidelines, the Frenchman’s reaction to the piledriver went viral on social media, his face capturing a range of emotions from astonishment to sheer joy
It therefore came as a surprise to many when Matic, who ended a 350-day goal drought with his stunner against Spurs, told media post-match that his Wembley wonder was not the best goal he’s scored to date.
"I am happy for my goal, it was a great goal, but it’s not the best I’ve ever scored," he said. "I scored a harder one in a Benfica vs Porto derby… this is perhaps my second best ever!"
The strike in question, another left-footed thunderbolt in a fiercely-competitive derby, was also worthy of a Puskás nomination. Matic’s sensational strike for the Portuguese giants finished second behind future Manchester United team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 2013 Puskás Award, while pipping Neymar in third.
Matic’s Wembley thunderbolt would prove to be one of his last in a Chelsea shirt, finding the net for a final time in blue against Middlesbrough, before being crowned an English Premier League winner in the following game against West Bromwich Albion.
An off-season move to the Red Devils would see him link up with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and the Serbian has quickly established himself as a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford.
"I brought him to Stamford Bridge because I thought he was a player with special qualities and since I left, I always thought he could be a perfect player for us," Mourinho said. "We have him and we are very happy because he is a player that our team needs."
A player with special qualities who is no stranger to scoring special goals. Does Matic deserve to win the Puskás Award? Don’t forget to cast your vote.