The UEFA Cup was re-branded as the Europa League ahead of the 2009-10 season and, since then, there have been some memorable moments and hugely impressive goals.
Europe’s secondary competition does not always get the attention it deserves, but there is undoubted quality within the tournament. Just look at the sides that have won the title over recent years, Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, while Sevilla and Inter Milan will contest this year’s final.
With 48 teams entering the group stage every season, 16 more than in the Champions League, there is certainly plenty of scope for great goals and some unbelievable strikes have failed to make it into our top-five, including Erik Lamela’s spectacular rabona effort for Tottenham against Asteras Tripolis in 2014.
Gonzalo Higuain’s thunderbolt effort for Napoli against Legia Warsaw during the 2015 group stage is another strike that is unfortunate to miss out, as is Jonathan Soriano’s effort from the half-way line during Red Bull Salzburg’s knockout stage victory over Ajax in 2014.
There is always plenty of debate when it comes to the greatest goals in any competition, we hope you enjoy reminiscing these five strikes that have and will live long in the memory.
5. Vasyl Kobin (METALIST KHARKIV vs Legia Warsaw, 2014/15)
Metalist Kharkiv is not a name that will be on the tip of every European football fan’s tongue and the Ukrainian team didn’t exactly pull up many trees during the 2014/15 group stage, failing to win a game and only scoring three goals from their six matches.
However, one of those strikes was a moment of magic from former right-back Kobin, who latched onto what was an already audacious flick into the air before spectacularly sending a bicycle-kick into the roof of the net.
That gave Metalist a 1-0 lead in the match, but, you guessed it, they went on to lose the game 2-1.
4. Radamel Falcao (ATLETICO MADRID vs Athletic Bilbao, 2011/12)
La Liga sides have dominated the Europa League since its inception, winning six of the 10 finals, and it was an all-Spanish showpiece in 2012 when Atletico Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0.
Colombian striker Falcao netted twice in that final, two of the 12 goals he scored in the competition that season, but it was his opener in Bucharest that particularly caught the eye, as he curled the ball into the top-corner from an acute angle with his unfavoured left foot.
3. Taison (METALIST KHARKIV vs Rosenborg, 2012/13)
Metalist made a habit of scoring spectacular league goals during the middle part of the last decade, with Brazil international Taison’s spectacular volley against Rosenborg during the 2012 group stage perhaps proving the pick of the bunch.
The sensational volley is almost a carbon copy of Marco van Basten’s strike during the Netherlands’ 2-0 victory over the Soviet Union in the final of Euro 88 – one of the most famous goals of all time.
The strike perhaps contributed to Taison’s move to Shakhtar Donetsk the following year, which is where he still resides and he played a major role in their run to the Europa League semi-finals this year.
2. Olivier Giroud (ARSENAL vs Red Star Belgrade, 2017/18)
France international Giroud certainly had an eye for a spectacular goal during his time at Arsenal – remember his scorpion kick against Crystal Palace in 2017 – well he scored an equally memorable goal against Red Star Belgrade later that same year.
Rounding off a superb team move that epitomised Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, Giroud hooked an unprecedented bicycle kick into the corner of the net with the nonchalant ease that we have come to expect from the now Chelsea forward.
1. Clint Dempsey (FULHAM vs Juventus, 2009/10)
Who can forget Fulham’s memorable run to the 2010 Europa League final under Roy Hodgson, but that sensational ride looked like being ended by Serie A giants Juventus at the last-16 stage.
Juve led 3-1 from the first leg and took the lead early in the piece through David Trezeguet at Craven Cottage.
However, a Zoltan Gera brace and a Bobby Zamora goal drew the tie level, before USA star Dempsey completed the turnaround with the most audacious of chips from the edge of the area that will undoubtedly still given many a Fulham supporter goosebumps.