Gareth Bale's Champions League goal: Was it greatest in competition?

Gareth Bale
With his back to goal, Bale somehow managed to hook the ball in

It could well be the best Champions League goal we have ever seen.

Gareth Bale's future at Real Madrid has been the subject of continual speculation this season, but what an impact he made in the 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Saturday's final.

The former Tottenham man was left on the bench for the final, but had we forgotten just how good he actually is?

Bale appeared as a 61st-minute substitute and was only on the pitch for two minutes and two seconds before he leapt into the Kiev sky to smash in an incredible overhead kick and put the Spaniards back in front.

"That goal stunned me, stunned Liverpool and stunned the fans around the goal. You won't see a better goal. It is one in a million, I would not even try it."

That was Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who remains the last Reds skipper to lift the Champions League trophy, summing up the strike perfectly on BT Sport.

That goal is 'illegal'

Liverpool players
There was no way back for the Liverpool players after that goal

Bale had scored five goals in his past four starts, but was left on the bench by manager Zinedine Zidane for the European showpiece against Jurgen Klopp's side.

His first contribution was spectacular, meeting a Marcelo cross in the box and volleying a finish with his back to goal.

Team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo had scored an equally spectacular effort against Juventus in the knockout stage and boss Zidane's volley from a dropping ball for the La Liga side against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 is unforgettable too.

But how does Bale's strike rank?

Former England striker Gary Lineker said on BT Sport: "It is one of the most spectacular goals we have ever seen in any football. It was better than Zidane.

"For Liverpool fans it is dreadful, but for football fans it is truly something special. It does not look possible to do."

Ex-England defender Rio Ferdinand added: "How dare he? He had no right to jump up, connect with the ball and think he was going to hit the back of the net.

"It is illegal what he has done. He is going away from goal and the connection he gets, it has not hit his shin."

What does the player himself think?

"It has to be my best goal. In a Champions League final, there is no bigger stage," said Bale. His manager Zidane called it "magnificent".

Bale best of the Brits?

Gareth Bale
Bale got his hands on the Champions League trophy for the fourth time

Bale joined Real from Tottenham in 2013 for a then world record £85m fee, and his achievements for Los Blancos cannot be overstated.

The Welshman scored in extra time against Atletico Madrid in 2014 and in the penalty shootout against the same opponents in 2016.

Against Liverpool, his brilliant first was followed up by Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius' howler for his second.

But let's just step back and appreciate some of his numbers in a Real shirt:

  • Bale now has four Champions League medals, equalling Englishman Phil Neal's record with Liverpool.
  • He is the fourth British player to score two goals in European Cup finals after Neal (Liverpool), Bobby Charlton (Manchester United) and Tommy Gemmell (Celtic).
  • He is the first Briton to score three goals in European Cup finals.
  • He is the first player to come on as a substitute and score twice in a European Cup final.
  • He has 21 goals in all club competitions this season.

Former Chelsea and England international Frank Lampard said: "Gareth Bale has been pivotal in finals. He is a great player because only the absolute best can score that goal.

"A fit Gareth Bale is an absolute specimen. It was outrageous. It is a goal we will see a million times again.

"Ronaldo's was great technically, but for Bale, he was never set up yet still got in position to make the contact. There was spin on the ball and from that height on the ball, going away from goal."

Ex-England winger Chris Waddle said on BBC Radio 5 live: "You don't see many better. What an occasion to do it. He has had about four touches [beforehand]. What a goal. You think there is no danger when the ball comes in, next thing, he is in the air."

All hail Bale - reaction:

Gareth Bale
Might as well have another look at the goal...

Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley: Wow! What a goal.

Former Liverpool full-back Stephen Warnock: Wow! Now that's a goal that deserves to win the Champions League, incredible from Gareth Bale.

Burnley striker Jon Walters: Possibly the best goal I have ever seen.

NFL player Odell Beckham Jr: Bale's goal was ridiculous.

Coogs: Best goal ever scored, so far.

Ebenezer: Gareth Bale's strike. The kind of goal you give standing ovation to.

Deldude: OH MY GOD . One of the best goals ever. Like coach like player. Outrageous goal of the season winner. All hail Gareth Bale.

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