Champions League

Goal of the groups

What was the best goal in this season's Champions League group stages? Watch our highlights of some unmissable strikes from the likes of Ozil, Ronaldo, Messi, Bale and Ibrahimovic before voting...

Yaya TOURE, Viktoria Plzen v MANCHESTER CITY

Toure thunderbolt

With City already in front in the second half through Edin Dzeko's goal, midfielder Yaya Toure sensationally doubled his side's advantage against Czech Republic minnows Viktoria Plzen. In the 53rd minute, the Ivory Coast international collected a pass from Samir Nasri in the inside left channel before taking a few strides in field. Toure then unleashed a searing, curling and dipping 25-yard effort which arrowed into Plzen goalkeeper Matus Kozacik's top-left corner. Sky Sports' Martin Tyler said: "Perfection from Yaya Toure." Sergio Aguero would add City's third goal shortly after.

Mesut OZIL, ARSENAL v Napoli

Outrageous Ozil

True footballing technicians make really difficult skills look easy and never more so was it evident than in Mesut Ozil's imperious performance against Napoli at the Emirates. Time seemed to stand still whenever the ball was in his vicinity as he glided past forlorn challenges with balletic grace. His goal summed up his performance. When Bacary Sagna lofted the ball down the right flank, Olivier Giroud darted in front of his man, took the ball on his chest before showing his strength in holding off his marker and playing in Aaron Ramsey on the overlap. The rejuvenated Welshman made inroads before cutting the ball to the edge of the box into Ozil's path. Without breaking stride Ozil made light of an awkward bounce to cushion a rising but controlled finish beyond Pepe Reina. Post-match Arsene Wenger was like a child given a puppy on Christmas morning as he purred: "First half, absolutely amazing, fantastic. Everything was in there - collective skill, individual skill, finishing, all that you dream to see."


Hulk's the hero

They say the best strikers tend to be a tad selfish so we suspect Hulk may just have woken up with a half-smile despite his goal at Vicente Calderón proving to be no more than a consolation for Zenit St Petersburg. Atletico Madrid were worthy 3-1 victors on the night but the goal of the game belonged to the Brazilian blessed with a jackhammer of a left foot. Never more so was it in evidence than in the 58th minute when he briefly restored parity for Zenit. Intricate and patient Zenit possession in their own half drew Atletico in before they broke with alacrity. When Cristian Ansladi laid the ball off into his feet there was still plenty to do but having worked it onto his left foot from outside the area Hulk gave Thibaut Courtois not a prayer with a rising drive that beat him at his near post.

Diego COSTA, Austria Vienna v ATLETICO MADRID

Costa's class

Diego Costa's impressive run of form continued after he bagged a brace at Austria Vienna. His opening goal embodied a man with confidence in abundance. Costa picked up the ball just over the halfway line and his drive towards the box left Vienna captain Manuel Ortlechner for dead, before goalkeeper Heinz Lindner had no chance in keeping out his calm finish. Linked heavily with Liverpool in the summer, Costa is at the centre of a tug-of-war between his native Brazil and Spain, where he has been playing since 2007. After last night's sensational solo goal, it is understandable why two huge footballing nations are pleading for him to lead their line.

Cristiano RONALDO, Galatasaray v REAL MADRID

Rampant Ronaldo

Fresh from his lucrative new contract, Ronaldo demonstrated exactly why he is worth such astronomical money in Real's record-breaking 6-1 thrashing of Galatasaray in Turkey. The Portuguese superstar had already scored twice in the second half in Istanbul but he saved his best until last. With Real already 5-1 up in injury time before the final whistle, Ronaldo collected the ball from Karim Benzema on the edge of the box and produced a trademark stepover to break into the penalty area. He slid past three Galatasaray defenders before blasting an effort inside the far post from the corner of the six-yard box. Ronaldo would finish as the top scorer in the group stages with a record-breaking nine goals.


Marvelous Messi

What is there left to say about Lionel Messi? His virtuoso display almost single-handedly decided the first ever proper meeting between European titans Barcelona and Ajax. In truth, for all their shared history, this was like chucking a flyweight in with a heavyweight. Had Ajax's corner shown any mercy they would have thrown in the towel in the 21st minute. Following a now trademark rhythmic hand clapping from an expectant home crowd, Messi lit up the evening with a sumptuous curling free-kick that went in off the post and set Barcelona on their way to a 4-0 victory. It was perhaps best summed by Sky Sports' Gerry Armstrong on co-commentary duty: "absolute pure genius".

Luka MODRIC, Copenhagen v REAL MADRID

Modric magic

Carlo Ancelotti's Real looked in imperious form in the group stages as they equalled the record for goals scored. They rounded off their progress into the last 16 with a 2-0 win at Copenhagen and Luka Modric scored the pick of the bunch with the opener of the night. As Xabi Alonso's corner was cleared to the edge of the penalty area, Isco collected the ball and laid it off to Modric around 20 yards from goal. The former Tottenham Hotspur star did not disappoint and, after a clever Cruyff turn to shift the ball onto his favoured right foot, he sent an effort arrowing into the top corner at the near post. "Classic Luka Modric," said Sky Sports commentator Rob Palmer.

Gareth BALE, REAL MADRID v Galatasaray

Brilliant Bale

Real went on to win this game by a comfortable 4-1 scoreline which booked their place in the knockout stages But it was not as simple as that after having to work hard for the win having been reduced to 10 men early in the first half when the score was still 0-0. It took Welshman Gareth Bale to step up and prove why he is the world's most expensive footballer with a dipping free-kick over the Galatasaray wall in the 37th minute. Sky Sports commentator Rob Palmber's rhetorical question said it all: "How is Gareth Bale getting on in Spanish football? Very well, thank you very much."


Great Gotze

Defending champions Bayern Munich were already 1-0 in front in Russia before their summer signing, Mario Gotze, proved in the 56th minute why his talent had been so sought-after. Picking the ball up approximately 35 yards from goal, Gotze danced past four CSKA defenders on a snowy pitch as he made his way into the 18-yard area. Then, when level with the penalty spot, he sent a fierce left-footer into the bottom corner. It contributed to Bayern's eventual 3-1 win which set a record for 10 successive victories in the Champions League.


Incredible Ibrahimovic

Having already put PSG two goals in front on their way to a 5-0 away trouncing of Anderlecht on Matchday Three, Ibrahimovic completed a stunning first-half hat-trick with his third of what would be four personal goals on the night in sensational style. In the 36th minute, the Swedish legend collected a clearance from Anderlecht's Bram Nuytinck around 35 yards from goal. Four home defenders were a little slow to react, with their seemingly not too much danger. But Ibrahimovic blasted a devastating missile of a first-time shot with his right foot which arced and bent away from Thomas Kaminski and into the top corner before the Anderlecht goalkeeper could react. The collective sound of even the home fans gasping in disbelief summed up the goal. Even by Ibrahimovic's exceptionally high standards, it was stunning.

What was your favourite goal in this season's Champions League group stages? Vote below

Who scored the best goal in the 2013/14 Champions League group stages?

  • Toure v Plzen
  • Ozil v Napoli
  • Hulk v Atletico
  • Costa v Vienna
  • Ronaldo v Galatasaray
  • Messi v Ajax
  • Modric v Copenhagen
  • Bale v Galatasaray
  • Gotze v CSKA
  • Ibrahimovic v Anderlecht