Manchester United went into Arsenal yesterday and came away win an impressive 3-1 victory. The first goal by Nani can be seen here. It's a beauty. Just a flashy, amazing goal. It's so good that his teammate Darren Fletcher can't think of any way to congratulate him other than trying to get a piggy back ride. Which I'm sure is exactly the way Nani wanted to celebrate after scoring a goal in which he single-handedly abused 3 Arsenal defenders.
While it was an amazing goal, the second one was my favorite. Arsenal was actually controlling the first part of the game. They were creating opportunities and they had many opportunities. Even after the Nani goal, Arsenal still seemed under control. Their demeanor made you think that they were still confident and knew that if they continued playing their game, that they would eventually score. Even though though they were playing Manchester United, you still got the impression that they were confident and knew that they could easily come back from down 1-0 and win the game.
Then the fastbreak happened. And it was a classic. What is a fastbreak goal? In my opinion, they are the most exciting types of goals in soccer - hence the name of the site. I realize that "fastbreak" is a term that is usually synonomous with basketball. "Counterattack" is the term that is usually used in soccer. Counterattack doesn't work as well because 1. it doesn't start with the letter "F" and 2. it doesn't quite capture how fast the goal happens. Regardless of the term used, the goals are so exciting and Manchester United's goal was a textbook example. Here's what it is and why Man U's goal was a great example:
1. The opposing team has to be threatening or about to score.
The goal isn't nearly as exciting if the team turns that ball over in the middle of the field. They have to threatening and thinking that they are the ones that are going to score. Plus, this is why the goals are so exciting. The team goes the entire length of the field for the goal.
2. It has to be an all out blitz from the start.
This is the key that links 1 and 3. The goal can't be a build up where the other team sort of sees it coming or where the team makes a few short passes once they gain possession. From the moment they get the ball they are running to goal. This is why these goals don't happen that often. It's literally within seconds of turning the ball over, the other team scores. Just watch the Man U highlights below. From the second Man U gets the ball, they are thinking score. They aren't thinking possess and build up an attack. They are thinking goal. Wayne Rooney's run is incredible. He's like a bat out of hell. Just sprinting the full length of the field to receive the pass and finish it into the corner of the net. Watch Rooney in the video below. He barely stays in the frame during the run down the field. But as quickly as he could sprint down the field they had the ball in the back of the net. Arsenal was down 2-0 before they could even realize they had turned the ball over.
3. The goal has to be a stomach punch or the knock out blow.
This is exactly what happened on Sunday. Although the second goal was still early in the game, it was a huge blow to Arsenal. As mentioned, Arsenal was playing with a lot of confidence. So much that the first goal didn't really seem to faze them. They knew, or at least played like they knew that they would come back from being down 1-0. Right after the first goal they were already threatening and everyone watching was just as confident as the players that they would come back and win. Literally 13 seconds later, Manchester United goes the full length of the field and scores another goal. I can't say it was entirely a knock out blow, but it might as well have been. Rarely is a team going to come back and beat or tie Manchester United after being down 2-0. It's not a knock out blow because Arsenal was at home and it was still in the first half. Still though, it was a brutal stomach punch that completely took the wind out of the entire stadium.
So that's a fastbreak goal. The full game highlights are below. The second goal and the fastbreak goodness starts at the 3:24 mark.