The Best FIFA Football Awards™
Mandzukic's unforgettable final strike
01 Oct 2017
- Mario Mandzukic’s overhead kick v Real Madrid up for FIFA Puskás Award
- Champions League final strike capped off impressive aerial Juventus move
- Strike is arguably the greatest scored in the European showpiece match
What do Roberto Carlos in 2004, Gianluca Vialli in 1995 and Steve MacKenzie in 1981 have in common? They have all suffered the curse of seeing stunning final goals largely forgotten because they were on the losing side. If there is any justice, Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic will not suffer the same fate.
Received wisdom has looked back fifteen years for the greatest goal, at least of the modern era, in a UEFA Champions League final, when a certain French talisman struck a sensational volley, catching the ball perfectly as it dropped out of the Glasgow sky to earn Real Madrid their ninth title. However, the man who scored it – Zinedine Zidane – had a prime seat on the touchline to see its successor in Cardiff as Mandzukic scored a goal worthy of winning any trophy, let alone game.
This FIFA Puskás Award nominee was more than just the finish, which we will get to, though. A sweeping team move to drag the Real defence open began with a raking cross-field ball from Leonardo Bonucci, distribution he has become so renowned for, to pick out Alex Sandro. The Brazilian left-back’s superbly-cushioned first-time cross finds Gonzalo Higuain who, in two touches, tees up the ball for Mandzukic just inside the edge of the area.
The Croatian took the ball on his chest, elevating it just above his head, before executing a stunning diagonal overhead kick, arcing across goal and finding the perfect spot between the disappearing reach of Keylor Navas and the underside of the crossbar. From the moment Bonucci hit his pass, the ball did not touch the floor before it nestled in the net.
The wide-eyed look of bewilderment on the big No17’s face as he wheeled away inside the Principality Stadium told you all you needed to know about what he had just done. By the time his celebration had taken him to the halfway line, the gravity of what he had accomplished looked to have registered. The goal of your dreams, on the stage of your dreams, to draw you level at 1-1 with the reigning European champions and keep your title hopes alive.
Had it been the strike that catapulted Juventus to their first Champions League title in over 20 years, it could easily have been heralded as one of the all-time great goals. However, as Real motored away to a 4-1 win in the second half, it has found itself on the wrong side of history.
Even so, the chances of anyone forgetting this goal, though, are pretty slim, but it is up to you whether the strike clinches the FIFA Puskás Award. Cast your vote here.