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Ranked! The 15 best Premier League goals of the ’90s

We count down the goals of the decade, starring Cantona, Bergkamp, Wanchope and more. By Greg Lea

15. Gus Poyet, Chelsea vs Sunderland (1999)

Get Gus’s goal at 0:18

A goal-of-the-season contender on the opening day of the 1999/2000 campaign. Poyet was the man to apply the finishing touch, a powerful scissor kick from 12 yards, but the beauty of this effort owed much to assist-provider Gianfranco Zola.

The Italian bought himself 10 yards of space with his first touch, flicked behind retreating Sunderland defender Chris Makin. He then bided his time and waited for Poyet’s run before delivering a sumptuous scooped pass into the Uruguayan, who finished with aplomb.

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14. Andrew Cole, Man United vs Leicester (1999)

 Manchester United’s Treble-winning side of 1998/99 are more celebrated than the 1999/2000 vintage, but the latter were the better Premier League team, winning the title by 18 points rather than one.

This November victory lifted Alex Ferguson’s men to the top of the table, with Cole’s double making the difference against Leicester. His first was superb, the England striker readjusting his body to fire an overhead kick in off the post after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s header fell to him on the edge of the box.

13. Juninho, Man United vs Middlesbrough (1997)

Another Old Trafford goal, but this time scored by the visiting team. Middlesbrough were locked in a relegation battle when they took on the champions-elect in May 1997, but there were few signs of the struggling visitors being daunted by a United team containing Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Roy Keane.

The deadlock was broken after a sweeping 11-pass move in the Red Devils’ half. Boro stroked the ball around neatly before Juninho decided to quicken the attack, exchanging passes with both Fabrizio Ravanelli and Craig Hignett before finding the bottom corner with an accomplished finish. Lovely.

12. Stan Collymore, Liverpool vs Newcastle (1996)

Context is important to any goal, and few can top this one for unadulterated drama. Regarded by many as the greatest Premier League game of all time, the scores were locked at 3-3 when Collymore settled this breathless thriller in Liverpool’s favour in second-half stoppage time.

Some snappy, one-touch passing from the Reds released John Barnes between the lines, while Ian Rush and Steve McManaman raced forward to provide support. After a couple of one-twos with the former, Barnes – with the sound of expectation reverberating around Anfield and five defenders blocking his path to goal – had enough composure to pick out the unmarked Collymore on the far side of the box. The rest, as they say, is history.

11. Paulo Wanchope, Man United vs Derby (1997)

It wasn’t quite George Weah vs Verona, but there are certain similarities between the Liberian’s masterpiece and Wanchope’s wondergoal – and on his Rams debut, no less. The new Derby striker, a £600,000 signing from Herediano, collected possession inside his own half and immediately had only one thing on his mind: going for it. The lanky forward strode upfield, leaving four opponents in his wake before finishing coolly past Peter Schmeichel.

Critics may argue the Costa Rican never had complete control of the ball, but the occasional bobbles owe more to the Old Trafford pitch than the striker’s technique. In fact, Wanchope deserves extra credit for mastering the terrain, particularly as Phil Neville is concurrently trying to make contact with his ankles.

 

10. Philippe Albert, Newcastle vs Man United (1996)

Goal at 1:29

“On a day when Newcastle would have taken one,” Martin Tyler remarked in the Sky Sports commentary box, “here they are looking for number five.”

They got it in glorious fashion seconds later, when Albert wandered forward from centre-back and measured an exquisite, impudent chip over the head of Peter Schmeichel. The Belgian’s goal epitomised Kevin Keegan’s daring mid-’90s Newcastle side, who won nothing but entertained many.

9. Matt Le Tissier, Southampton vs Man United (1996)

It’s no exaggeration to say this list of best ’90s Premier League goals could be drawn exclusively from Le Tissier’s back catalogue and still be considered perfectly legitimate. One of the Southampton wizard’s best came against Manchester United, the decade’s most successful English club who had a curious habit of conceding stunners.

After ghosting into space between the Red Devils’ midfield and defence, Le Tissier weaved past David May and Gary Pallister before floating a delightful chip over the hapless Schmeichel (who’s now become part of the furniture in this list).

8. Nwankwo Kanu, Middlesbrough vs Arsenal (1999)

Pundits and commentators regularly praise players who, rather than standing and admiring the pass they’ve just made, are on the move again as soon as the ball leaves their foot. In the build-up to his goal against Middlesbrough in April 1999, Kanu does nothing of the sort.

Instead of screeching into the penalty area to offer himself as a target, the nonchalant Nigerian ambled forward at a snail’s pace after playing the ball to Lee Dixon 40 yards from goal. The full-back and Ray Parlour then combined on the right flank, by which time Kanu’s leisurely stroll had taken him into the box. There, he met Dixon’s low cross with a sublime backheel on the volley.

7. Robbie Fowler, West Ham vs Liverpool (1997)

One of the most clinical finishers the Premier League has ever seen, Fowler scored virtually every type of goal imaginable in his Liverpool career. One of his best came in a 2-1 defeat by West Ham in 1997, when the man nicknamed ‘God’ by Reds fans sent the Upton Park away end into raptures.

When a West Ham header found him on the edge of the box, the striker unleashed a phenomenal volley which arrowed into the top corner. The technique was sublime, Fowler lifting his left leg behind him and connecting with the sweetest of hits to give Hammers goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko no chance whatsoever.

6. Ian Wright, Arsenal vs Everton (1993)

Goal from 0:42

 It’s to be hoped that the Everton medical team knew the cure for twisted blood after Wright’s treatment of defender Matt Jackson in August 1993. The striker took up the perfect position to meet a long ball forward from the back, with the Toffees’ failure to win the first header leaving Jackson exposed to a dangerous one-versus-one with Wright.

The England international flicked the ball one way with his right foot, before meeting it mid-air with his left to take it back in the other direction, leaving Jackson floundering. Wright didn’t panic once he was in the box (when did he ever?), allowing the ball to bounce and then lofting a delicate lob into the far corner.

 

5. David Beckham, Wimbledon vs Man United (1996)

Selhurst Park has witnessed some stunning Premier League goals in recent years, including Dele Alli’s tremendous turn-and-volley and Pajtim Kasami’s Marco van Basten impression for Fulham.

Yet the most memorable in the Premier League era remains Beckham’s coming-of-age effort against Wimbledon in 1996. Having spotted Neil Sullivan off his line, the Manchester United man launched an audacious strike from just inside his own half. The shot was pinpoint, perfectly weighted, and sent Sullivan scrambling back towards goal in a futile attempt to prevent the ball dipping under the crossbar and nestling in the net.

4. Dwight Yorke, Aston Villa vs Sheffield Wednesday (1993)

Goal from 2.21

 Who knew Pep Guardiola managed Aston Villa in the early ’90s? But no: Ron Atkinson was actually the man in the home dugout when Yorke rounded off a fantastic team move in a 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the Premier League’s inaugural season of 1992/93, when the Villans finished as runners-up behind Manchester United.

Ray Houghton, Paul McGrath, Earl Barrett, Garry Parker and Yorke were all involved before the piece de resistance: a cheeky nutmeg from Dean Saunders in midfield. Houghton then swept the ball into Cyrille Regis, whose one-touch lay-off was collected by Kevin Richardson; the Villa captain picked out Steve Staunton, with Yorke on hand to convert the Irishman’s low cross at the back post. Team work makes the dream work.

3. Eric Cantona, Man United vs Sunderland (1996)

One of the most iconic goals – and celebrations – in Premier League history. The final touch, a marvellous chip over Sunderland shot-stopper Lionel Perez which kissed the post on its way in, was brilliant enough, but Cantona was heavily involved in the build-up too.

The Frenchman collected the ball with his back to goal just inside the Sunderland half, and six dazzling touches later had escaped the attention of two opponents to begin his journey towards the penalty area. Cantona then played a one-two with Brian McClair and, remaining typically unflustered, let the ball run across his body before locating the top corner. The celebration said it all.

2. Dennis Bergkamp, Leicester vs Arsenal (1997)

Bergkamp’s most famous Premier League goal was the remarkable turn-and-finish against Newcastle in 2002, but this effort against Leicester – the third in a tremendous hat-trick – is also among the best that the division has ever seen.

The Dutchman plucked David Platt’s raking pass out of the air with consummate elegance, barely even looking behind him to judge the flight of the ball but still bringing it under his spell. His second touch was just as good, whisking the ball away from Matt Elliott with his left foot to leave the Iceman with a clear view of goal from five yards – an opportunity he didn’t pass up, after adjusting his feet expertly.

1. Matt Le Tissier, Blackburn vs Southampton (1994)

A Southampton legend and a Premier League cult hero – not many players who graced England’s top tier in the ’90s were as fun to watch as Le Tissier.

This goal against Blackburn in 1994 exemplified his outstanding natural ability; the languid midfielder barely broke sweat as he twisted and turned his way past two Rovers defenders before bending a magnificent 40-yard shot into the top corner.

As Clive Tyldesley exclaimed on commentary: “Only Matthew Le Tissier can score goals like that.”

 

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