Watch the 19 Most Insane Goals from Euro 2016 Group Stage
Bow down to the greatest goals from Ronaldo and company as the Euros heads to its final 16 teams.
Before we reach the Round of 16 in this summer’s Euro 2016 soccer championships that starts on Saturday, here’s a GIF-tastic roundup of the greatest goals from the group stage. Let’s kick this off.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Hungary
We’ve come to expect magic from the Portuguese superstar who was recently named the world’s highest-earning athlete, and he certainly didn’t disappoint during his team’s 3-3 thriller against Hungary. While his second goal ensured a share of the points, it was his first goal, an inventive flick, that stole the show.
2. Luka Modric vs. Turkey
The Real Madrid midfielder is a world-class talent, and for his Croatian side this wonder-strike was the difference in a 1-0 victory over Turkey.
3. Radja Nainggolan vs. Sweden
Roma’s Belgian enforcer produced this late piece of brilliance to earn his side a narrow win over Sweden. Striking across the ball with the outside of his right foot, the swerve, pace and accuracy of the shot makes it a worthy match-winner.
4. Nikola Kalinić vs. Spain
The Croatian striker served up this imaginative flick with the outside of his foot to even the score at 1-1 just before the half against powerhouse Spain. Fiorentina will be hoping he can produce similar brilliance for them in the upcoming Serie A season.
5. Wes Hoolahan vs. Sweden
While the match ended in a 1-1 draw, Norwich striker Wes Hoolahan produced this thunderbolt against Sweden to grab a point for the Irish, who will progress to the knockout stages. Catching the cross on the short-hop, Hoolahan makes such sweet contact, even putting a slight bend on his shot to ensure it ended up in the back of the net.
6. Marek Hamsik vs. Russia
Hamsik, an attacking midfielder for Napoli, has long been in the discussion for best hair in football (soccer), but equally impressive are his displays for club and country. Needing a moment of genius to overcome a determined Russian side, Hamsik unleashed this sledgehammer off the far post and into the net, crushing Russian hopes while reminding the world that he is still a world-class attacking player. Rumors have already started that clubs like Liverpool will be bidding for the Slovakian talisman.
7. Zoltan Gera vs. Portugal
Premier League fans have no need for an introduction to Zoltan Gera as they remember the moments of genius he used to produce for West Brom a few years back. Now playing in his native Hungary for Ferencváros, Gera obviously has retained his ability to produce moments like this, striking the ball crisply and giving the Portuguese keeper no chance with the power and placement on this volley in the 3-3 draw.
8. Eder vs. Sweden
The Italian striker ended this move with a smash into the bottom corner, but it was the slight dip of the shoulder to lose the Swedish defender that was the real brilliance of this late winner. The Sampdoria-owned attacker, currently on-loan to Inter Milan, stole all three points for Italy and will be relied upon to produce a similar threat when Italy faces Spain on Monday in the Stade de France.
9. Eric Dier vs. Russia
There were no shortage of options for England when presented with this late free-kick against Russia. All-time goal scoring record holder Wayne Rooney and Tottenham striker Harry Kane somewhat surprisingly stepped aside and let Spurs’ holding midfielder Dier take the free-kick, and boy did he make the most of the opportunity. Completely unstoppable for the Russian keeper, Dier’s strike looked to have won the match for the Three Lions, before they collapsed to what has become a common lapse of concentration and surrendered an equalizer.
10. Jacob Blaszczykowski vs. Ukraine
The Polish winger, well-known to international fans as a member of the immensely entertaining Borussia Dortmund squad, needed all of his skill to create the space for this blast. The reverse pass to find Blaszczykowski was brilliant, but it was the winger’s shot fake, drag back and curled finish that gave the Ukrainian defenders no chance.
11. Birkir Bjarnason vs. Portugal
For a nation of only 323,000 people, reaching the knockout stage of a major competition is highly unlikely. But Iceland wouldn’t be denied in the group stage, drawing 1-1 with Portugal and Hungary before earning a shocking 2-1 victory over Austria. While perhaps not the most difficult strike on our list, the FC Basel midfielder still had work to do when the cross reached him and he made solid contact, giving Rui Patricio no chance in the Portuguese goal. And just in case this isn’t awesome enough for you, Bjarnason’s nickname in his homeland is “Thor.”
12. Romelu Lukaku vs. Ireland
Plying his trade for Everton in the Premier League, Lukaku and his goal threat must have been obvious to Irish supporters as well as the Irish defense. Unfortunately, the Belgian powerhouse was indifferent to the attentions of the Irish defenders. Lukaku’s first touch puts the ball on his left foot and by the time Ireland can react, Lukaku has curved a strike into the side netting. Everton supporters hope to hold on to the young star despite interest from a number of big European clubs.
13. Admir Mehmedi vs. Romania
After falling behind to Romania, the Swiss applied constant pressure until finally Mehmedi, the 25-year old Bayer Leverkeusen attacker, hit one of the sweetest strikes of the group stages. Catching the volley square on his instep, the Swiss striker nearly tore the net, and ensured his side a share of the spoils in the 1-1 draw.
14. Dimitri Payet vs. Romania
The French midfielder has gone from after-thought to guaranteed starter in his national team following an incredible season in England for West Ham. After his performances in the group stage, he may be on his way to being one of the top midfielders in all of Europe. While free-kicks have been his signature as of late, this strike from Payet in the 89th minute gave the hosts a 2-1 victory, and added to the legend that Payet is creating for himself across the continent.
15. Dimitri Payet vs Albania
Payet has been so good that this goal, complete with a dip of the shoulders and a bending strike into the bottom corner, isn’t even in contention for his best goal of the group stage. Regardless, this injury time strike against Albania shows that Payet possesses more than simply a rocket for a shot, and provides even more evidence that the midfielder is ready to take a step up to one of Europe’s elite clubs.
16. Graziano Pellé vs. Belgium
The world press praised the gameplan and tactical genius of Italy’s performance against a strong Belgian side, but the match wasn’t secure until second half injury time when Pellé, the Southampton striker, finished a marvelous Italian counterattack with this rocket of a volley. While unmarked, Pellé still had to make clean contact with the ball at an awkward height, but the 30 year-old made no mistake in emphatically smashing the volley into the Belgian net, ensuring the Italians all three points.
17. Vladamír Weiss vs. Russia
The Slovak playmaker has been the ultimate journeyman since leaving Manchester City. Currently playing in the Qatari professional league, Weiss served up a reminder to European fans that he still can produce special moments given an opportunity. Weiss makes the Russian defense look lost as he finishes the Slovakian counterattack by cutting inside two defenders and finishing into the far side-netting. Combined with teammate Hamsik’s wonderstrike, the Slovakians prevailed 2-1 over their Russian counterparts.
18. Ádám Szalai vs. Austria
Despite a lack of big-name stars, Hungary produced some of the most exciting attacking football of the group stage. While the finish from Szalai is clinical, using the outside of his right foot to poke the ball under the Austrian goalkeeper, it was merely the end of a wonderful bit of interplay by the Hungarians. The striker, on loan to German club Hannover 96, will need to keep this bold and adventurous style if he and his teammates hope to defeat their round of 16 opponents, Belgium.
19. Alessandro Schöpf vs. Iceland
While Austria must be viewed as a massive disappointment after crashing out of the group stage, at least their one goal scored was a beauty. Schöpf, a 22 year-old midfielder for Bundesliga side FC Schalke, received the ball in midfield and drove into the box before firing a left footed effort across the goalkeeper and into the far corner. But it was the deke and cut that left an Icelandic defender foolishly on his backside that was the real genius of the move, and should give Schalke supporters a talent to enjoy in future seasons.