Top Fives: Long-range masterpieces


To celebrate Cuco Martina's birthday, we're serving up a special collection of long-range masterpieces...

There’s something unexpected about all of these bolts from the blue, but Victor Wanyama’s lob over Hull keeper Eldin Jakupovic was enhanced by the fact the Kenyan only scored four goals in his whole Saints career, and the game at the KC Stadium was just three minutes old. Commentator Adam Blackmore was still setting the scene when Jakupovic scuffed a left-footed clearance straight to Wanyama, leaving his goal unguarded. But the midfielder still had an awful lot to do, and had to shoot first time to capitalise on the keeper’s wayward positioning. The way he controlled the strike was exceptional – not even breaking stride as he connected sweetly from 40 yards and watched the ball drop just underneath the crossbar to embarrass the rookie stopper.

Another spectacular deadlock-breaker on the road, this was arguably the best of James Beattie’s 76 goals for Southampton. The game was goalless in the 12th minute when Paul Jones sent a long goal kick downfield, which Beattie initially won in the air to flick the ball on. When the next contact came courtesy of defender Darren Williams, the ball bobbled invitingly towards the Saints marksman, who did not hesitate in thumping it first time from 45 yards. Sunderland stopper Thomas Sorensen was scrambling back into his goal, but only succeeded in getting fingertips to the shot, which was not enough to prevent it nestling in the back of the net, as the Stadium of Light let out a collective gasp in shock.

Rickie Lambert took his tally to 30 goals in his debut season as a Saint with a memorable hat-trick at MK Dons in League One. All three goals came in the second half, as he nipped in to head home the opener in the 48th minute. His second arrived from the penalty spot, before securing himself the matchball in remarkable fashion. Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis actually claimed the assist, as his long goal kick was taken down on his chest by Lambert, before the ball sat up nicely in front of him. Fully 40 yards out, Saints’ new number seven hit an instinctive dipping shot that sailed high into the air and dropped down over stranded keeper Willy Gueret, bouncing up into the roof of the net.

Boxing Day 2015 was a special festive celebration for Saints in more ways than one, as Arsenal were brushed aside at St Mary’s. Not only did Ronald Koeman’s rampant team hit four goals without reply, but the home crowd were also treated to one of the finest goals the stadium has ever seen. This was Cuco Martina’s first Premier League start, and the right-back took little time to make an impact, as he stepped on to Per Mertesacker’s headed clearance and connected first time with an audacious shot struck with tremendous power using the outside of his right foot. Setting the ball outside Petr Cech’s far post, Martina had an enviable view of his own masterpiece, as he watched it swing back into the bottom corner like a boomerang.

When Matt Le Tissier declares this his best ever goal, you have to sit up and take notice. The only regret for the Saints legend is that this game ended in defeat, despite his brace – and the first goal wasn’t bad either. At the time, this moment of individual brilliance offered Saints some hope against a Blackburn team who would be crowned Premier League champions at the end of the season. Reducing the arrears to 3-2 with 12 minutes left, Le Tissier received a short pass just inside the Blackburn half, turned sharply and shimmied inside Mark Atkins, then back outside the midfielder. Sizing up his options, he sent a curling shot drifting away from former teammate Tim Flowers that nestled perfectly in the top corner from 40 yards. Cue collective disbelief at the work of a genius.