Football

Five of the best: Big-game volleys

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A stunning volley can be one of the greatest what-the-hell-was-that moments in football - when one flies into the top corner you know you've seen something unique.

For all Xavi's brilliance, passing looks easy. Javier Hernandez is a world-class finisher, but most think they can replicate his six-yard box savvy on their local park - if only someone would provide the service.

While such confidence is misplaced, it remains that a great volley is one of those rare things that's actually as frustrating difficult to get right as it looks. 

Shinpads, defenders and woefully bad technique all conspire to send the vast majority of first-time efforts into the same pocket of space occupied by Sergio Ramos's penalty.

But when it comes off, it seems worth the wait. Robin Van Persie's last night was one such occasion, and a legitimate goal of the season contender.

GMF considers four other great volleys in homage to Van Persie's stunner in the Premier League clinching victory this week. All were scored in 'big games' and we stress, this isn't a definitive top 5. We welcome your contributions - so which is your favourite?

Robin Van Persie | Manchester United v Aston Villa | 2013

He's done it before, and he'll do it again. Van Persie is one of the best volleyers in the world - witness his strikes for Arsenal against Everton and Charlton.

Here, his second goal from a superb hat-trick, Van Persie latched onto a 50-yard pass from Wayne Rooney. Without breaking stride he placed it with the laces into the corner.

Perfect technique.

Marco Van Basten | Holland v USSR | 1988

Arguably the most famous of the lot. The Dutch striker hammers home this goal in the Euro 88 final against the USSR, helping Holland to a 2-0 victory.

From an almost impossible angle, the AC Milan man catches it so sweetly, and it whistles into the postage stamp top corner.

Zinedine Zidane | Real Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen | 2002

Another for those that argue that context is all important when discussing the relative merits of great goals.

In this Champions League final Zidane scored one of the all-time best volleys. Facing the sideline, the Frenchman picks the dropping ball on the full, guiding it home.

Michael Essien | Chelsea v Barcelona | 2009

Not the most famous goal in this match, but nonetheless a beauty. With a place in the Champions League final at stake, these two foes put on a real show.

Essien got the ball rolling with an out-of-this world volley - a strike that gets bonus points for having the aesthetically pleasing off-the-underside-of-the-bar-and-in touch.

Unfortunately, Andres Iniesta was to upstage him in the final few minutes.

Maxi Rodriguez | Argentina v Mexico | 2006

Yes, the former-Liverpool man takes a touch on the chest before looping this one home, but what a goal. And in a World Cup knock-out game too. In extra-time. To win the game. Big goal, and a great one at that.

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