The Financial Express

Goals that go all the way: An elite list of match-winners in modern football

Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - December 23, 2017 Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo in action with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi — Reuters/Files Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - December 23, 2017 Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo in action with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi — Reuters/Files

Scoring in a top-flight game is deemed hard, continuing it is deemed harder, and scoring winners week in, week out is deemed the hardest. And players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi do the hardest part of the game – scoring match-winning goals in football.

Match-winning goals are those which guarantee the win of a team without the need of additional goals. For example, in a 4-2 win, the third goal here is the match-winner. Again, if a player has scored twice in a 2-1 win, then only his second goal is the match-winner.

Using these metrics and conditions, German-based football analytics website Transfermarket has calculated the number of winning goals scored by players during their club career. Analysing those data, the author has brought here an elite list of active players who have 100 or more match-winning goals.

The list begins with the topper Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 200 match-winning goals to his credit as of now. Ronaldo has always been termed a goal machine, underestimating the tremendous impact he can exert on football. His 129 match-winning goals for Real Madrid, 45 for Manchester United and 25 for Juventus surely prove his worth. No doubt, those decisive goals in the Madrid shirt embody Real’s absolute dominance in Europe.

Who can be next on the list? You absolutely have the name in your mind. It’s none other than Lionel Messi with 175 match-winning goals to his name for the Catalan giant Barcelona. From this number, one can’t just visualise the numerous ways Messi can have an impact on football, apart from just scoring. At present, Messi may not be the blistering right-winger he started out as, but whatever may be the case, he has gotten Barcelona over the line on a countless occasion.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic comes third on this elite goal-scoring list. He has enjoyed a long illustrious career and is still carrying it on for AC Milan in colours. This almost 40-year-old footballer with no sign of retiring has so far scored 152 match-winners. His roaming career covers Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Manchester United, LA Galaxy and AC Milan now again —He has always been decisive in whatever team he plays.

Robert Lewandowski, one of the best modern day strikers, if not the best, comes fourth on the list with 112 match-winning goals. Over the years, we have seen Lewandowski run rampage on the opposition team both in Germany and in Europe. This just further adds to the striker’s ability to carry his team whenever needed in any format of the competition.

The next name on this list may raise some eyebrows but credit where credit’s due — Gonzalo Higuain has scored 105 to get his side over the line. Higuain has 105 match-winning goals to his name. He may not be that much prolific goal scorer compared to the other heavyweight names on the list, but he has scored important goals that have seen his side come out with three points in the bag. Notably, while at Real Madrid and Napoli he scored 37 and 36 match-winning goals respectively.

The list goes on with Wayne Rooney, who has 104 match-winning goals to his name. His standing says a lot about the career he’s had. He transitioned from a pacey-hot-headed striker to an assured attacking midfielder. He definitely got Manchester United out of sticky situations many times. It’s worth mentioning that most of his match-winning goals came after Ronaldo’s departure.

The last two names on the list ranked 7th and 8th are Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero with 103 and 100 match winners. Suarez, especially during the MSN, ramped up a hefty number of match-winning goals. He has 61 decisive moments for Barcelona, which goes to show how crucial of an asset he was in their attack. Sergio Aguero, on the other hand, is best-known for one of the iconic last-moment match winners in the last decade. With a more consistent run without injuries, it is almost certain that Aguero may soon find himself further up on the list.

Naveed Ashfaque is a junior year student of marketing at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP). He can be reached at [email protected]






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