2 Apr 2024

Football round-up: Chris Wood saves the day with a stunning header

2:39 pm on 2 April 2024
30th March 2024; The City Ground, Nottingham, England; Premier League Football, Nottingham Forest versus Crystal Palace; Chris Wood of Nottingham Forest scores with a glancing header in the 61st minute for 1-1

Chris Wood in red shirt standing left of the goalpost watches as his header goes past the Crystal Palace goalkeeper. Photo: Photosport / Godfrey Pitt

New Zealand international Chris Wood underlined his importance to the All Whites this weekend as he scored what could be a crucial goal in Nottingham Forest's Premier League survival race.

Coming off the back of missing another international break, during which New Zealand failed to score without him, Wood's equaliser in Forest's 1-1 draw against fellow relegation candidate Crystal Palace had extra meaning.

It was his 10th goal of the season, the fifth time the 32-year-old has hit double figures in a Premier League campaign.

But perhaps more importantly, it was a beautifully headed goal - one of the best we have seen in the Premier League for some time.

The headed goal is something of a lost art form, but Wood had purists purring at the weekend. Running with his back to goal and into the trajectory of Morgan Gibbs-White's lofted pass, New Zealand's record goal scorer convinced his head, neck, and spine to un-align, contorting his effort over the helpless Dean Henderson.

It was a true thing of beauty, but where does it lie in the pantheon of great headed goals?

Peter Crouch made a living out of scoring with his bonce. The 6' 7" (2-metre) striker-turned-podcaster netted 53 times with his skull in the Premier League, a record number.

However, his best-headed effort probably remains a dreadlock-assisted effort for England against Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Others turned headers into a churning demonstration of brute physicality. Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, dangles in mid-air like a cobweb in the wind. A 2019 effort for Juventus v Sampdoria is likely the pick of the bunch from him.

Then there is the diving header, which both Robin van Persie and Henrik Larsson perfected on the international stage - swan diving their craniums in hope rather than expectation.

A headed goal needn't be confined to the penalty area either. Jone Samuelsen nodded home from 58.13 metres for Norwegian side Odd Grenland in 2011 - a world record.

Wood's effort is certainly up there as one of the better Premier League headers of recent times, mostly due to the improvised nature of his swivelling noggin. But even then, it is not the best goal in this genre of headed effort.

Jared Borgetti's twisting nod over the dumbfounded Gianluigi Buffon at the 2002 FIFA World Cup remains the standard bearer. While Borgetti may have this trump card on Wood, the Mexican only managed two Premier League goals in his stint in England with Bolton Wanderers. Wood moved to 65 over the weekend - ahead of the likes of David Beckham and Australian duo Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell.

Hopefully, we can see him adding to his 34 international goals at the OFC Nations Cup this June.

The Phoenix celebrate their win during the A-League - Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar FC at Sky Stadium, Wellington on the 31 March 2024. © Copyright image by Marty Melville / www.photosport.nz

The Phoenix celebrate their win over the Brisbane Roar Photo: Marty Melville

In other football news

  • It was a near-perfect weekend for the Wellington Phoenix in the A-League Men. Not only did they sneak past Brisbane Roar courtesy of Bozhidar Kraev's solitary goal but the teams around them at the top of the table lost, allowing the Nix to stamp their mark on top spot. The only blemish is the loss of captain Alex Rufer to suspension after a questionable VAR decision.
  • In the A-League Women, the Wellington Phoenix signed off for the season in style, beating Western Sydney 2-0 courtesy of an Emma Main brace. It wraps up an improved but ultimately frustrating season for the 'Wahinix' - finishing eighth compared to last season's wooden spoon.
  • It's advantage Liverpool at the top of the Premier League after nearest rivals Manchester City and Arsenal played out a stalemate. Erling Haaland looked like he was up against the New Zealand U-20s, who infamously shut him out back in 2019, again in an anonymous display from the world's most potent striker.
  • In news that may have slipped you by, Auckland United became the first New Zealand team to win the OFC Women's Champions League a little over a week ago. Bree Johnson's first-half goal was enough to give United the victory over Papua New Guinea's Hekari United.

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