We expect the ridiculous from Salah, but when he picked up possession outside the box, wide on the right, back to goal, and with João Cancelo feeling his collar, there looked nothing on. So Salah spun his man then, while absorbing a shove from Phil Foden, rolled studs over the ball to take him outside the next. Bernardo Silva was later found in lost property. Even then only a cross looked on, so Salah swayed inside, enticing Aymeric Laporte to follow, before dipping outside to snap an expert’s finish into his favourite far-post side-netting. It was a goal that only he could score, the skill, speed and composure an act of audacious impossibility, like painting a fresco on a rollercoaster.
It seems a long time since Kovacic was either the bloke who came on for Jorginho or the bloke for whom Jorginho came on because, revitalised by Thomas Tuchel, he is now Chelsea’s most reliable midfielder. He remains an infrequent scorer, but bagged a beauty when Liverpool visited the Bridge and quickly went two goals up. There seemed little danger when Caoimhín Kelleher punched away Marcos Alonso’s free-kick, but just outside the box, Kovacic back-pedalled, then indulged in a little feet-adjusting skip before channelling his inner Daniel LaRusso to send a joyous crane-kick arcing into the net off the post, earning the rich, rare reward of a Gary Neville goalgasm. Moments later, Chelsea were level, and one of the season’s best games ended all square.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, Yarmolenko felt extreme stress. “I had to rest,” he said. “I was just thinking about my family and my people.” Three weeks later and with West Ham needing a goal, David Moyes reintroduced him and, as he loitered about the penalty spot, Saïd Benrahma booted an aimless cross straight at him. So Yarmolenko stunned it brilliantly with his right foot, delivering it to where he knew his left would be once he’d spun his man. Then, in the same, fluid movement, he kipped into a sensational finish, poking a half-volley with the outside of his left and into the far corner. Overcome with emotion, Yarmolenko spent the next few minutes rubbing tears from his eyes. He wasn’t the only one.
This hasn’t been a vintage season for goals. That means we can pack lists like this with the ones that made us cry. Eriksen’s cardiac arrest was a moment of collective trauma that left an entire continent fearing the worst. But by February he was back, and when Brentford visited Stamford Bridge in April, the teams were tied 1-1 with 54 minutes gone. Kristoffer Ajer headed clear, Bryan Mbuemo turned Hakim Ziyech and, with Eriksen cleverly angling his run into the middle, forcing N’Golo Kanté, the last man, to go towards the ball, Brentford were in. Immediately, the square pass arrived, and though Eriksen would have been forgiven for snatching at the chance, he stayed calm to lift it over Édouard Mendy’s dive and into the roof of the net for the most cathartic of goals. After that his team scored twice more, recording a famous win.
Given how freely their defence concedes them, goals against United shouldn’t count for the purposes of this list. But Cucurella’s finish was another feel-good moment Since joining Brighton, the Spaniard’s wholehearted style and hairdo have won him many admirers, but in 35 appearances he hadn’t scored. That was until Alexis Mac Allister controlled a throw superbly, bending in a low cross that Leandro Trossard retrieved and cut back for his desperately beseeching teammate, who then roofed a glorious finish before breaking down in tears.
“Me and my family we have had our bad moments,” he explained. “To come here is difficult, a new country a new league and a new language. Now this is a good moment for me and my family and we stay together in this moment.” Aw!