We continue 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling by looking back on some of the most memorable dead-ball strikes in UEFA Champions League history.
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It takes real skill to beat the best goalkeepers in the world from dead-ball situations, but the planet's top strikers keep doing it in the UEFA Champions League.
As we mark 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling, we ask you which of these six free-kicks deserves to be named the best in UEFA Champions League history?
Over the course of 2021/22, UEFA is asking fans to vote for the most iconic moments since the rebranding of the European Cup in the early 1990s. Hence, 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling will give fans an opportunity to vote on everything from goals to memorable celebrations, unforgettable comebacks, sensational skills and impossible saves.
Juninho Pernambucano's long-range knuckleball, 2003/04
Bayern 1-2 Lyon
05/11/2003, first group stage
Oliver Kahn adjusted and readjusted his wall several times as he awaited this effort from at least 30 metres out from Juninho Pernambucano, but the Brazilian still managed to beat him, the ball dipping as it swept into the net off the inside of the despairing goalkeeper's left-hand post. "It was my best knuckleball free-kick from a long distance," the set-piece master remembered.
During his glittering spell at Lyon, Juninho used to practice free-kicks after training with reserve goalkeeper Rémy Vercoutre. "We'd do 30 or 40 free-kicks per session and 90% of them would be on on target," Vercoutre remembered. "And most of the time if it was on target, it was a goal."
Lionel Messi's dead-ball masterclass, 2018/19
Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool (agg: 3-4)
01/05/2019, semi-final second leg
Lionel Messi's 600th goal for Barcelona was one deserving of a major milestone, his hit from a central position bending round the Liverpool wall and into the top corner of Alisson Becker's net. It was not enough to earn Barcelona a final place, but was voted Goal of the Season for the 2019/20 campaign.
"I tried to strike it like I try to strike every free-kick," the Argentinian told UEFA.com at the start of the following season. "It was a bit further out than usual, I hit it with a lot of power; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I had luck on my side that time and it went in."
Hugo Almeida's thunderbolt, 2005/06
Inter 2-1 Porto
01/11/2005, group stage
"As perfect a strike as there will be seen all season" was the assessment of UEFA.com's match reporter on the night of Hugo Almeida's superb finish, his thunderbolt from just over 30 metres out still rising as it crashed into the top corner of Júlio César's goal.
Inter had lost 2-0 at Porto in the sides' previous meeting, with coach Roberto Mancini saying: "We conceded two own goals and in these cases it's legitimate to talk about bad luck." Fortune looked to have deserted them again after Almeida's unstoppable 16th-minute opener, but Julio Cruz struck twice after the break to earn the Nerazzurri a 2-1 win.
Cristiano Ronaldo's piledriver, 2008/09
Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United (agg: 1-4)
05/05/2009, semi-final second leg
"He scored the free-kick from somewhere near my hometown," said Cesc Fàbregas ruefully as he looked back to Arsenal's ill-fated semi-final decider against Manchester United. Cristiano Ronaldo's hit from out on the right somehow beat Manuel Almunia at his near post to make it 2-0 on the night despite being struck from the best part of 40 metres out.
Ronaldo had scored from a similarly ludicrous range against Porto in the previous round, but no amount of forewarning could deny him in his final season at Old Trafford. As Fàbregas put it: "You could feel he was special, unstoppable."
Roberto Carlos' arrow into the top corner, 2000/01
Sporting CP 2-2 Real Madrid
12/09/2000, group stage
Roberto Carlos's best-known free-kick is probably the one he hit against France in a friendly game for Brazil in 1997, the gigantic run-up and the phenomenal amount of bend conspiring to beat Fabien Barthez. This effort against Sporting is not quite as spectacular, but for sheer raw power, it may have the edge.
"I used to practice with a dummy for one hour every day," said Roberto Carlos, who possessed one of the most powerful shots of his age as well as glorious technique. Even at the end of his career, he was committed to improving his dead-ball deliveries. "There are seven days in a week," he explained in his early 40s. "I take seven free-kicks daily."
Lasse Schöne's lofted finish, 2018/19
Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (agg: 3-5)
05/03/2019, round of 16 second leg
Even if this first knockout round decider at the Santiago Bernabéu had ended 3-1, it would have been a landmark result for Ajax, but such was their sparkling form on the night that Denmark international Lasse Schöne decided he might as well push his luck, firing this effort from out near the corner flag straight at goal and looping the ball in at the far post.
"Everything worked for us but we forced that ourselves," said coach Erik ten Hag at full time, with Schöne's effort later voted the club's best goal of the decade. "It’s the greatest goal of my career," Schöne said. "I have experienced so many beautiful moments at Ajax."