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Five greatest goals scored by the ball wizard Diego Maradona

FOOTBALL By AFP | November 27th 2020 | 3 min read

In this March 1987 file photo, Pele, left, and Maradona hold "Sports Oscar" trophies in Milan, Rome. [AP Photo, File]

Here AFP Sport picks five of Diego Maradona's best goals:

The ‘Goal of the Century’

The solo goal against which all solo goals will be judged. Named the “Goal of the Century” by Fifa in 2002, his high-speed slalom in Mexico in 1986 ended England’s World Cup and cemented Maradona’s position as the world’s best footballer.

The goal trumps others of its type not just because of its impact, the stage, the spectre of the Falklands War and the fact that it came just minutes after his notorious ‘Hand of God’ goal, but for the efficiency of its execution.

1986 FIFA World Cup - Quarter Final - England v Argentina - Azteca Stadium, Mexico City - 22/6/86 Diego Maradona scores for Argentina. [Action Images via Reuters, Juha Tamminen]

Maradona barely deviates from his path towards goal the moment he spins free in midfield, with a few drops of the shoulder enough to embarrass England for the second time in the space of five minutes.

The ‘Divine free-kick’ that conquered Naples

Nicknamed the “divine free-kick” in Italy, Maradona’s iconic winning goal for Napoli in the November 1985 home clash with Michel Platini’s Juventus - reigning European champions - was the one that created the Argentine’s legend in Naples.

Argentine soccer superstar Diego Armando Maradona cheers after the Napoli team clinched its first Italian major league title in Naples, Italy, on May 10, 1987. [AP Photo/Massimo Sambucetti, File]

Standing over an indirect free-kick well inside the penalty area, legend has it that Maradona asked midfielder Eraldo Pecci to roll him the ball for a shot despite the closeness of the Juventus wall. With Napoli players furious at their Juve counterparts for not stepping further back, Maradona simply said: “Don’t worry, I’ll score anyway”.

A quick touch from Pecci was all he needed to flick a stupendous effort over a group of Juve players who were practically on his toes as he hit the ball and past a bamboozled Stefano Tacconi in the Juve goal.

“With this goal,” he wrote in 2017, “I conquered the hearts of Neapolitans.”

‘El Pibe’ volleys Verona

There were more crucial goals among Maradona’s 115 for Napoli, but few matched the sheer nonchalance of his outrageous lob in a 5-0 hammering of reigning Serie A champions Hellas Verona in October 1985.

Collecting a long pass with his back to goal on the left flank, Maradona span round and saw future teammate Giuliano Giuliani positioned just too far to the left, only a few yards off his line.

Quick as a flash, and with the ball still bouncing, Maradona took a step and clipped a looping shot towards goal that gently faded off the left post as Giuliani realised - too late - that he was about to be humiliated.

Bamboozled Belgium beaten

His world-beating effort against England is rightly the goal everyone remembers, but his second of another double against Belgium in the semi-finals of the same World Cup in 1986 was almost as good.

In this June 13, 1982 file photo, Argentina's Diego Maradona, front, is attacked by Belgium's Guy Vandermissen during the opening game of the Soccer World Cup in Barcelona, Spain. [AP Photo, File]

Picking the ball up on the edge of midfield, he quickly advanced and sent three Belgium defenders packing with one shimmy which allowed him to charge into the penalty area.

Having now isolated flat-footed right back Eric Gerets, he drags ball and defender to the left before cutting his shot back across goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff.

Derby destruction

In November 1981 Maradona playing for Boca Juniors lit up River Plate’s Monumental stadium with the sort of vision that took him to the very top of the game, somehow scoring from a tight angle on the left flank with nothing on and barely any gap in which to squeeze the ball.


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