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Oct 18, 2009

Football's strangest goals

Sunderland's winning goal against Liverpool came when Darren Bent's shot deflected beyond Pepe Reina after striking a large red beach ball which had been thrown onto the pitch at the Stadium of Light.

But it wasn't the first bizarre goal to be scored, and it won't be the last. So here's a few others that may rival Bent's strike for weirdness.

Luton Shelton (Sheff Utd v Man City, 2008) - A similar story as Sheffield United's opening goal against Manchester City in their FA Cup fourth round tie came with some assistance from the visiting supporters at Bramall Lane. This time it was more than one obstacle as a number of balloons released by the fans were lying in Joe Hart's penalty area when Lee Martin swung in a cross from the left. The ball took two deflections off the inflatable intruders, wrong-footing defender Michael Ball and striker Luton Shelton sidefooted home in a game that the Blades went on to win.

Steve McManaman (Tottenham v Liverpool, 1996) - England midfielder McManaman's speculative long-distance effort looked to have been covered by keeper Ian Walker, but a divot saw it fly up off the turf, over Walker's out-stretched grasp and into the net.

Stan Collymore (Blackburn Rovers v Liverpool, 1996) - Collymore's tame left-footed pea-roller was trundling straight into the arms of Blackburn goalkeeper Tim Flowers, before it hit a divot on the six-yard line that Flowers himself had made and skipped over the keeper's shoulder and into the net.

Paul Robinson (Tottenham v Watford, 2007) - Tottenham goalkeeper Robinson's free-kick from deep inside the Spurs half took a freak bounce on the edge of the Watford penalty area and looped over his opposite number Ben Foster, who smiled ruefully as he retrieved the ball from his goal. Robinson was due some luck though after Gary Neville's backpass jumped off a divot in Zagreb to beat him in England's 2-0 defeat to Croatia in October 2006.

Peter Enckelman (Birmingham v Aston Villa, 2002) - A derby is the last place you want to concede a goal like this, but with his team trailing 1-0 to their rivals from across the city, Villa gifted their opponents a goal. Olof Mellberg took a throw-in from the left but Enckelman failed to control the ball, let it roll under his foot and it trickled slowly into the net. Villa's Finnish keeper claimed he did not get a touch - meaning the goal would be disallowed - but referee David Elleray awarded it anyway.

Dion Dublin (Coventry v Newcastle, 1997) - Dublin gave his side the lead with a cheeky piece of finishing, having strayed off the pitch after going for the ball. There appeared to be little danger when Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given collected a cross after being put under pressure by Dublin, but Given assumed the striker would stay put behind the goal and rolled the ball out in preparation to make a long clearance. Dublin then came back onto the pitch, whipped the ball away from the 'keeper and turned it into an empty net.

Gary Crosby (Nottingham Forest v Manchester City, 1990) - Similar to Dublin's goal but even more ingenious. The Forest winger was waiting behind Andy Dibble when the City goalkeeper picked up the ball. As Dibble held it out on his outstretched hand deciding what to do, Crosby nipped around the goalkeeper, nodded the ball out of his hand and rolled it into the empty net. It was given because a goalkeeper must have two hands on the ball if he is to maintain control.

Vanderlei (Cruzeiro v Atletico Mineiro, 2007) - An extraordinary lapse of concentration by Cruzeiro goalkeeper Fabio allowed Atletico Mineiro striker Vanderlei to score the fourth goal in the Belo Horizonte derby. After conceding the third goal, Fabio was still looking for the ball in the net and had his back to play as Atletico scored again. He apparently failed to notice as Cruzeiro kicked off with a different ball and passed it backwards. The ball was intercepted by Vanderlei who scored into an undefended goal. A furious Fabio then picked two balls out of the net and remonstrated with the referee.

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