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WAGNH’s Best and Most Beautifulest Chelsea Goals Draft 2020: Number 12

Reminiscing about our most favorite and Chelsea’s greatest goals from the past ~20 years

The rules were simple: 5 bloggers, 4 rounds, snake draft. David picked first, then Yatco, Graham, André, and Rohaan. 20 goals in total.

All goals eligible except Didier Drogba’s equalizer in the 2012 Champions League final. Too obvious.

In reverse order, these are our favorite, greatest, bestest (however each of us interpreted the rules) Chelsea goals. You will probably disagree, but you’re probably wrong.

No. 12


#OnThisDay: Sit back and enjoy this goal by Raul Meireles v Benfica, securing a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona in 2012!

Posted by Chelsea Football Club on Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Raul Meireles vs. Benfica, 2012

Can a goal celebration be as good as the goal itself? Can it be better? (Ed.note: if you’re not seeing the above embed due to Apple’s distaste for Facebook, click here.)

Raul Meireles etched his place into Chelsea history as a cult hero in the memorable 2012 Champions League campaign with an audacious haircut, and more importantly, audacious banger. The goal was not needed to see Chelsea through to the semifinals. It was, however, the proverbial “icing on the cake”.

Perhaps forgotten in that memorable Champions League campaign was how salty Benfica were under Jorge Jesus. Salty enough that the club even lodged a complaint regarding the officiating in the second leg. If each knockout round represented a decadent cake, the triumph of sugar and flour fused with the sweetness of strawberries and buttercream would be topped with an indulgent caramel frosting sprinkled with sea salt.

All the salt from Benfica’s tears, in fact.

The Cult of MRLSH continues to live on even though he was a Chelsea player for exactly one year and three days. Despite arriving from Liverpool, seeking to kickstart The Project with former manager Andre-Villas Boas, he quickly gained favor among the Chelsea faithful. He had the quality to play multiple roles in the midfield for AVB, and later Roberto Di Matteo.

Chelsea needed that steel in the midfield, and Meireles certainly looked the part. Luckily, he backed it up with solid play. His style was extravagant, with flair on full display. The tattoos were endearing. At Chelsea he sported double sleeves, to which he’s added more since. His hairstyle only furthered his cult status by sporting a live animal on his dome. Consensus had it as a ferret.

If you love long shots, counter-attacks and moments of individual brilliance, there are few goals better than Meireles’ belter. The lead up to the goal saw him spring the counter himself from Chelsea’s half with a delicate dink over Benfica’s Pablo Aimar after collecting a clearance from Mikel John Obi. From that moment on Meireles would have an exorbitant amount of space between himself, Benfica’s last man, and goal.

It’s worth mentioning that this goal would not have happened without Ramires, one of the biggest heroes of 2012, who speeds in from practically nowhere to make a brilliant run to take the attention of Benfica’s last man away from Meireles. Ramires gives Meireles enough space at the edge of the box for his audacious strike at goal.

Chelsea FC v SL Benfica - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

One could make a very reasonable argument that the safe play here would have been to take the ball to the corner flag and see out stoppage time. Had Chelsea conceded to Benfica, we would have been knocked out on aggregate.

But — this is 2012 we are talking about. Fate had a plan for us, and Meireles had good reason to take it to Benfica. He was born in Porto and spent six years growing into a top footballer at FC Porto, rivals to Benfica. He’s well aware of what it means to score against Benfica.

The goal celebration is just as much a part of Meireles’ legend as his thunderous goal into the top corner. As he ran towards goal, you could hear the crowd crescendo in anticipation. Loud enough that he ignored pleas to either play in Ramires or play it safe, and instead send Stamford Bridge into a frenzy by hitting the upper 90.

Between you and me, it is when Meireles flaps his hands to the home support, egging the crowd on in celebration, that I remember the most. Blink and you may miss it, but at the end of Meireles’ celebration he turns away to shush in the direction of the away end. Winding up one’s opponent is an art, especially after such a goal.

For the Cult of MRLSH, this is the defining moment, and a well-deserved place on our list of memorable goals.

“I had so many bright moments in my football career, so many trophies, many things to be proud of and so many unforgettable things to tell my grandchildren in the future.

“But this one especially is very different for me. In 2012 we won the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea Football Club for the first time ever. We were far away from any nominations, everyone said that we are not gonna make it; they even made some jokes about us before the semi-final and the final game. In general, no one literally expected what happened or supported us but our loyal fans in that time. But we proved to everyone that we are the best in the world back then.

“It all started with a dream and a true believing in our skills as a team. For anyone, any game is just 90min length, but for us (players, coaches, staff) any game is about endless hours of training, several years of determination and dreaming to make it to this level and millions of supporters who count on you to make them happy and proud of their beloved team.

“[...] you have to keep on fighting for your dreams, even if everybody around you doesn’t believe you can make it. Never give up, fight for your dream, be always surrounded by positive people who push you forward, ignore all the haters and negativity thoughts.

-Raul Meireles; Source: Facebook

He scores when he wants, celebrates how he wants, and dances to the beat of his own drum.

WAGNH’s Best and Most Beautifulest Chelsea Goals Draft 2020:

No. 12: Raul Meireles vs. Benfica, 2012

No. 13: Gianfranco Zola vs. Wimbledon, 1997
No. 14: Arjen Robben vs. Norwich City, 2004
No. 15: Claude Makélélé vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2006
No. 16: Oscar vs. Juventus, 2012
No.17: Bethany England vs. Birmingham City, 2019
No.18: Demba Ba vs. Manchester United, 2013
No.19: André Schürrle vs. Burnley, 2014
No.20: Alex vs. Liverpool, 2009

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