A ‘rabona’ goal is special enough – but what about when it includes a cheeky nutmeg and comes against your team’s fierce rivals?
Tottenham fans might have feared their side’s attacking flair would take a hit when Son Heung-min hobbled off after just 19 minutes of Sunday’s north London derby at Arsenal.
But his replacement Erik Lamela lit up the game when he opened the scoring with an outrageous strike that will be hard to beat for goal of the season.
Tottenham had not even touched the ball in Arsenal’s box for the first 33 minutes at Emirates Stadium when Lucas Moura steered Sergio Reguilon’s cross into Lamela’s path.
What followed was a moment of magic.
The Argentina winger wrapped his left leg around the back of his right and guided a ‘rabona’ finish into the bottom corner, through the legs of Arsenal’s Thomas Partey.
The strike almost achieved the impossible, rendering irrepressible BBC Radio 5 Live pundit and former Crystal Palace striker Clinton Morrison nearly speechless.
“I can’t believe what I’ve just witnessed. It’s one of the goals of the season,” Morrison managed to get out.
“It is a superb, top-quality finish. It is world class!”
“I don’t think I’ll ever see a goal like that again live,” said BBC Radio 5 Live’s football correspondent John Murray.
Rabona, translated literally from Spanish, means to play truant from school – and Lamela went the whole hog by deciding he fancied an early finish to the day too.
Already on a booking after Spurs had contrived to turn the lead he gave them into a 2-1 deficit, Lamela used his arm in an attempt to hold off Kieran Tierney and received a second yellow card after connecting with the Scot’s face.
The highs and lows of football, eh? Hero one hour, villain the next.
Tottenham may have lost, but it is Lamela’s involvement that will live longest in the memory from this match.
Not even Lamela’s best ‘rabona’?
Surely 99% of professional footballers will go their entire careers without scoring a ‘rabona’ – yet, remarkably, Lamela has two. That we know of, anyway.
Even when adding the nutmeg into the mix, however, Match of the Day presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker insisted Lamela’s latest stunner did not match the South American’s previous effort.
That one, against Greek side Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League in 2014, was from even further out – 20 yards – and had more lift than Sunday’s strike.
But, sorry Gary, it didn’t go through someone’s legs.
The goal even drew praise from an Arsenal legend, former Sweden midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, who was watching the game in a punditry role for Sky Sports.
“The goal is insane. It’s probably the best one I’ve ever seen, the technique, the power and keeping it down – he even gets a bit of curl on it to take it back in,” Ljungberg purred.
Spurs defender Sergio Reguilon’s reaction summed up the feelings of pretty much everyone watching at home, while even unhappy-in-defeat Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho described the strike as “sensational”.
Before adding, in classic Mourinho fashion, “but the most important thing is the result and we lost the game”. No pleasing some.
Football probability metric Infogol calculated that Lamela’s effort had a 0.06 chance, out of 1, of it being a goal – meaning he would score from it six times in every 100 attempts. They clearly don’t know who they are dealing with.
Not everyone, however, was over-enamoured – but maybe Andy does have a point…