It’s great seeing Southampton players go head over heels as the ball hits the back of the net, isn’t it? Here’s a collection of our favourite acrobatic goals on the eight-year anniversary of Graziano Pellè's St Mary's masterpiece…
Saints had not been convincing en route to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern area final in 2010, but, with the help of two penalty shoot-outs, found themselves 180 minutes away from a first trip to the “new” Wembley. Standing in their way were two legs against MK Dons, and it was Michail Antonio’s acrobatics that gave Alan Pardew’s the upper hand with the only goal of the first instalment in Buckinghamshire. The finish was as spectacular as the build-up was untidy, as Saints took the direct route and Antonio profited from a flick-on to find himself with his back to goal, 15 yards out. Using his body to roll the defender, he then propelled his right leg up to shoulder height and swivelled to hit a brilliantly-improvised shot in off the far post.
If there’s one thing all of these goals have in common, it’s that instinctive improvisation of the scorer to reposition their body in order to hit the target from unorthodox positions. That was certainly true of Maya Yoshida at Stoke, where Saints found themselves a goal down with 15 minutes to go. When Sofiane Boufal crossed from the left and Shane Long helped the ball on, captain Yoshida had little time to adjust but did so to deadly effect. Throwing his right leg into the air, the Japanese defender connected sweetly on the volley and watched the ball fly off his boot and into the net via the underside of the crossbar. Saints had their equaliser in the most unlikely yet spectacular fashion.
Later in his career at Stoke, Rory Delap became known as a man with an extraordinary ability to hurl the ball from throw-ins, but he’s better remembered by Saints fans for this remarkable goal against Tottenham at St Mary’s. The game was still goalless midway through the second half when Claus Lundekvam strolled out of defence, only to see his attempted cross deflect into the air. As Lundekvam headed the second ball across goal, it was dropping slightly behind Delap, who made contact with ridiculous power as he soared into the air with his back to the target. The ball left his foot like a rocket and flew past helpless keeper Kasey Keller to win the game for Paul Sturrock’s Saints.
A vintage offering from the Lawrie McMenemy days, when a 20-year-old Danny Wallace shot to prominence with this Goal of the Season winner from 1983/84. Mark Dennis ran down the left and delivered a deep cross to find fellow defender Mark Wright, who was unexpectedly left alone at the far post. Wright, who later joined Liverpool, nodded the ball down to the diminutive figure of Wallace, who stepped away from goal to meet it on the edge of the six-yard box. With his back to the target, he leapt into the air and somehow generated the power to score with a stunning overhead kick, shocking future Saint Bruce Grobbelaar to such an extent that the keeper did not move a muscle.
Summer signing Graziano Pellè had already made a positive impression on his new club when Saints welcomed QPR to St Mary’s in late September, but little did the home fans know he was about to score a goal that would be remembered for years to come. Ronald Koeman’s side had been pegged back by Charlie Austin’s excellent equaliser, but the scores were level for just two minutes when Pellè fired his team back in front. This was another deep cross nodded down to the goalscorer, as this time Shane Long spread the play and Dušan Tadić turned provider. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, Pellè flicked it up for himself and suddenly swivelled to execute an acrobatic volley that looped over Robert Green’s dive and down into the corner of the net.