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Nov 28, 2013

Top Tenner: Early birds

After Jesus Navas' rapid strike against Tottenham last weekend, Top Tenner digs through the archives to find ten of the quickest goals in football.

10 - Vuk Bakic, Serbian youth league, 2012

Do goals scored in Serbian youth football count? Well, for the purposes of this list they do, particularly when this young colt, playing for GSP Polet against Dorcol, took the no-nonsense approach to kick-offs, not even bothering to pass to a teammate and simply whacking the thing in straight from the centre-spot. The goal was timed at two seconds, probably making it the quickest ever recorded, and despite protests from the opposition, it was quite correctly allowed to stand. "The goal stood and in the end we won 4-1," Polet coach Zoran Sredic said. "However, some players approached the referee to complain, but he walked away and pointed to the centre. We are proud to have a player who scored probably the fastest goal in the history of football."

9 - Ricardo Olivera, Brazilian league, 1998

However, if you absolutely insist on this list being from professional leagues, this one is probably the quickest ever scored, coming after just 2.8 seconds. Olivera used the same tactic as young Bakic, shellacking the ball straight from kick-off and over a bewildered goalkeeper. Given how cautious passing back around your own defence proved for Tottenham on Sunday, one wonders why teams don't try this tactic more often.

8 - Lukas Podolski, friendly, 2013

The most recent entry in this list, Podolski's effort may have been in a friendly, but it was presumably pretty satisfactory for him. The forward had reportedly been involved in something of a tiff with Germany assistant coach Oliver Bierhoff over his apparently "unsatisfactory" performances over the preceding year, and it came at a time when he had dropped out of the Arsenal first team. "I don't care. I know what I have in me," Podolski said at the time, and proved it by dispossessing dithering defender Gabriel Achilier straight from the kick-off, and slotting the ball home in -- dare we say it -- a ruthlessly efficient six seconds.

7 - Ledley King, Premier League, 2000

Of all the people you might pick to get scoring started quickly, Ledley King perhaps isn't the one you'd immediately choose. Still, King holds the record for the fastest goal in the Premier League, although he did receive some help from a deflection that can be filed under 'wicked' off Bradford defender Robert Molenaar, perhaps the Dutchman's lasting contribution to English football. The strike was clocked at 11 seconds, positively tardy compared to some of the others on this list, but it perhaps fits with how Spurs were playing at the time that it wasn't enough to earn them a win -- Bradford equalised to nab a 1-1 draw.

6 - Roy Makaay, Champions League, 2007

While we're on the subject of records in shiny and glamorous competitions, Roy Makaay has the quickest goal in the Champions League to his name. Makaay swept home (although frankly, it had more than a whiff of offside about it) for Bayern Munich against Real Madrid after 11 seconds, setting up a 2-1 win in the first knockout round of that year's competition. Bayern would go on to lose to eventual winners Milan in the next round.

5 - Bryan Robson, World Cup, 1982

Robson's World Cup career was littered with injuries, with assorted ailments curtailing both the 1986 and 1990 tournaments for Captain Marvel. However, he did make his mark in 1982, scoring what was at the time the quickest goal in World Cup history (Hakan Sukur took the record in 2002), giving England the lead over France after just 27 seconds by hooking home a Terry Butcher flick-on. Obviously, England were eliminated in rather limp fashion after two 0-0 draws in the second group phase, but Robson was given an inscribed gold watch for his goal, which probably makes it all worthwhile.

4 - Hakan Sukur, World Cup, 2002

It would of course be remiss not to include Sukur's strike, which remains the quickest goal in World Cup history, scored in the third-place playoff against co-hosts and unlikely success story South Korea in 2002. Turkey did pop the Korean balloon just a little by winning a very entertaining game 3-2, but it didn't ruin things too much, particularly for Korea coach Guus Hiddink, who was rewarded with, among other things, a private villa on an island, free flights for life with Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, the renaming of a stadium in Gwangju after him and a 'Guuseum', set up in his home town of Varsseveld, now a popular destination for Korean tourists.

3 - Jim Fryatt, Division Four, 1964

Believed to be the quickest goal ever scored in English football, there is some dispute over this one because, as you might imagine, TV cameras didn't often get to Division Four games in the mid-60s. It is claimed that Fryatt scored the goal for Bradford Park Avenue against Tranmere after only four seconds, although some onlookers claimed the time to be a positively sluggish ten seconds. Still, referee Bob Simons was adamant: "I blew my whistle for the start and still had my stopwatch in my hand when the ball entered the net. The scoring time is exactly four seconds -- no question of it."

2 - Davide Gualtieri, World Cup qualifiers, 1993

England's qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup obviously wasn't sunk by a Sammarinese computer clerk, but Davide Gualtieri's goal in the ninth second of their final game was the final kick of dirt in Graham Taylor's face. Latching onto a short back-pass by Stuart Pearce, it looked like Gualtieri had derailed England's hopes -- they had to win by seven and hope for a favour from Poland against the Netherlands.

England won 7-1 and the Dutch overcame the Poles, so the goal was ultimately academic, but it didn't stop Gualtieri from gaining a few fans. He said in 2003: "In '95, we played the Scots here and their fans came wearing T-shirts which said 'Gualtieri -- eight seconds'. I was in the Halloween pub in town when some of them found out who I was. They bought me drinks all night and wouldn't let me leave."

1 - Johan Neeskens, World Cup final, 1974

As we all know, the rivalry between Germany and the Netherlands is fierce. Indeed, it's an unfortunate truth for self-important English types that the Germans are much more bothered about the Dutch than the boys from Blighty. In the lead up to the 1974 World Cup final, the gloves were off, with German tabloid Bild setting up a sting involving a swimming pool and a collection of 'young ladies for hire', but the underhand tactics seemed not to have worked as the game began.

In just the second minute, Johan Cruyff drove into the box from deep, but his progress was halted by Berti Vogts, something with which Scottish fans can no doubt identify. Referee Jack Taylor pointed to the spot, Neeskens smacked it home and the Dutch were away. Not that it did them too much good, mind -- West Germany would of course go on to win the final thanks to another penalty by Paul Breitner and a Gerd Muller winner. Obviously, the biggest scandal of that game was not Taylor's decision, but the Netherlands' outrageous squad number policy. Goalkeeper Jan Jongbloed No.8? Midfielder Willem van Hangegem No.3? Dear dear.