The Best FIFA Football Awards
Lazaros hitting the highlight reels
07 Sep 2018
- Lazaros Christodoulopoulos has a penchant for spectacular goals
- He helped AEK to end Olympiacos' dominance
- Now picking up where he left off with the team he stunned
Sometimes a goal, regardless of how amazing it looks, is just a goal with no added significance – either because the win is already in the bag or defeat a foregone conclusion. Perhaps even, there is little at stake for the team that scores it.
And then, you get goals that mean much more than a simple addition to the scoreline. And the incredible free-kicks notched by Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (just plain Lazaros to his friends) certainly fit into that category. On the fifth matchday of the 2017/18 Greek Super League in September 2017, AEK Athens were at home to multiple league winners Olympiacos, who had bagged 12 of the 13 titles between 2004 and 2017.
Olympiacos were 2-0 to the good when the hosts finally started to find their rhythm over an hour into the match. And along came Christodoulopoulos, reducing the deficit with a half-volley, then scoring a free-kick from a good 30 yards out with ten minutes left on the clock. The right-winger, aged 30 at the time, hit the ball with tremendous pace but also at a slight angle at the point of contact, so that it formed an arc as it flew through the air, deviating away from the helpless Olympiacos custodian Stefanos Kapino to nestle into the top corner.
Two-two it was until Petros Mantalos took matters into his own hands in the penultimate minute of regulation time to give the three points to AEK, who topped the table and went on to win the championship. Olympiacos’ run was at an end and Christodoulopoulos’ highlight-reel goal was an early but powerful statement of his team’s title ambitions.
Lazaros again displayed his penchant for spectacular strikes around six months later. In the second leg of the Greek cup semi-final. AEK were looking dead and buried against Larissa until up he popped in the fourth minute of added time on with a stunning goal from the tightest of angles to send his team through to the final. And no doubt these two goals played a major part in Olympiacos – the team with the most league titles in the country’s history – acquiring him last summer.
Since the move, Lazaros has lived up to his reputation. In the opening match of the current season, he scored directly from a free-kick to give his new team the three points over Levadiakos. The distance was similar to his strike in September of last year, only this time he hit it with a flatter trajectory. And it could well be that this is not the last time that we will see a Lazaros goal nominated for the FIFA Puskas Award…