First touch goals are one of the most underrated and rare joys in football.
Last weekend’s 2-2 draw between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur will be mostly remembered for the VAR/handball controversy that engulfed the game towards the end of and in the days after Gabriel Jesus’ game-winning goal was disallowed upon review.
But let’s not forget that that match bore witness to one of football’s funnest sights: that of the first touch goal variety. On this occasion it was Lucas Moura, who had just been sent on by manager Mauricio Pochettino to try and revive their chances.
That had been looking very unlikely up to them, as City were pummeling Spurs, but it took the Brazilian a matter of seconds to make an impact. Subbed on to utilise his speed to take advantage of the host’s high line, Moura instead scored from an unlikely scenario, leaping above the defenders to head in the equaliser.
First touch, first shot, first goal.
The attacking midfielder is not the first player to score with his first action in a game, but it’s a rare enough occurrence, which makes it all the more exciting when it does happen, which is why we should look back on some of the most memorable ones.
Five of the best first touch goals ever:
Nicklas Bendtner – Arsenal vs Spurs, 2007
It’s always good to score the winner in a North London Derby. But to score the winner after six seconds with your first touch after coming on as a substitute? Now that’s special.
That was about as good as it got for Nicklas Bendtner’s career, but the former Arsenal striker will always have that place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest scoring sub after his most famous goal against Spurs.
Bendtner's career peaked right here: pic.twitter.com/4LXBwBdB7z
— Nostalgia Ultras 🎙 (@NostalgiaUltra5) August 17, 2019
Ashley Young – Man United vs West Ham, 2013
It’s weird to think that 34-year-old Ashley Young has been a regular starter for Manchester United up until last season, but this pearler into the top corner against West Ham United in 2013 was certainly a highlight.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 13, 2016
Nolito – Man City vs Everton, 2016
The Spaniard’s impact at Manchester City was short lived, but Nolito scored this memorable first touch goal against Everton with his head shortly after coming onto the field of play.
Our last goal against @Everton from Every Angle!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 17, 2017
Arjen Robben – Bayern Munich vs Arsenal, 2015
Arsenal got pretty used to being absolutely battered by Bayern in the Champions League this past decade, with their second meeting in the group stages of 2015 being particularly brutal.
The Gunners were already 3-0 down when on comes Arjen bloody Robben, the most unnecessary of substitutes with that kind of lead, and the former Chelsea man immediately put his stamp on the game upon connecting with David Alaba’s low cross in the 55th minute. Ruthless.
Lars Ricken – Borussia Dortmund vs Juventus, 1997
Is this the greatest first touch goal of all-time? Lars Ricken came off the bench for Borussia Dortmund in the 1997 Champions League final against Juventus with his team on top, but the Italians had just scored through Alessandro Del Piero to get the Bianconeri back into the tie.
With the score at 2-1 with 20 minutes to go, Andreas Möller played a through-ball to the 20-year-old substitute that took out the entire Juve defence, before Ricken struck the ball first time to lob the helpless goalie Angelo Peruzzi, eliciting scenes of pandemonium amongst the crowd in Munich.
— UEFA.com DE (@UEFAcom_de) March 28, 2019
The win for the German outfit also meant that Paul Lambert beat Zinedine Zidane to a Champions League winners medal that night. Football is great sometimes.