Football

Top five: Match-winning volleys from the modern era

Iniesta scored a stunner. (©GettyImages)
Iniesta scored a stunner. (©GettyImages).

4) Andres Iniesta, Spain vs Netherlands

Andres Iniesta has won everything there is to win for a Spanish footballer. 

Over the course of his illustrious career, he has amassed a trophy collection that includes six La Ligas, two Copa del Reys, five Spanish Supercups, two UEFA Supercups, two FIFA Club World Cups and three UEFA Champions League titles, not to mention the two European Championships he won with the Spanish national team.

The diminutive Spaniard has wowed millions with his fleet-footed skills and ethereal ability with a football, and has earned comparisons with the legendary Zinedine Zidane and Michael Laudrup.

However, the greatest achievement of his career so far is undoubtedly the goal he scored in the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg to give Spain her first ever World Cup title.

And what a goal it was.

After 90 minutes of not being able to find a way past a well-organised and physically imposing Dutch defence despite enjoying the lion's share of possession, Vicente del Bosque's Spanish team entered extra-time knowing that the game would likely be decided by a single goal, and set about trying to exploit any cracks in the Dutch back four.

The tides would turn in their favour as John Heitinga was sent off in the 109th minute of a game that should have been settled in normal time by Arjen Robben who was twice put clean through against Iker Casillas.

Five minutes from the end of the game, Cesc Fabregas fed Iniesta a through-ball that split the Dutch defensive line that had momentarily lost its organisation, and Iniesta half-volleyed the ball past the outstretched leg of Rafael van der Vaart and into the far corner of Maarten Stekelenburg's goal.

Iniesta took his shirt off as he sprinted to the cameras, revealing a message for the deceased Dani Jarque as his team-mates engulfed him in celebration of what they all knew was the decisive goal of the match, and possibly the most important goal in the history of Spanish football.

That goal will be remembered not only for the fact that Iniesta managed to fire the ball into the back of the net despite being under immense pressure in the penalty area, but because it well and truly confirmed Spain's status as the best footballing nation in the world, and made Spain the first country to be European and World champions simultaneously since Zidane's France side of 1998 and 2000.

Topics:
Paul Scholes
Steven Gerrard
Football
Zinedine Zidane

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