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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Mo Salah wins Fifa Puskas Award for best goal - but was it really better than Ronaldo and Bale's overhead kicks?

The decision has left many football fans and pundits bemused

There's no denying Mohamed Salah's goal for Liverpool against Everton in December 2017 was a fine piece of individual skill.

The Egyptian showed wonderful balance, invention and a cool head to collect the ball on the edge of the penalty area, wriggle free from his marker and create space for a shot of unerring accuracy into the top corner.

But worthy of the Fifa Puskas Award for goal of the year, for which it won at a glittering ceremony in London on Monday?

It's a resounding "no" from many, both within the industry and mainstream fans.

The problem isn't the lack of quality in Salah's strike, but the fact it came up against two of the greatest goals in modern football - step forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

The Real Madrid pair scored almost carbon copy overhead kicks in the Uefa Champions League - Ronaldo against Juventus and Bale in the final against Liverpool (see the video below).

As anyone who has played the game will know, the overhead kick requires skill and technique very few possess. Factor in the stage on which they scored - Ronaldo away from home against the club that has dominated Italian football for almost a decade, and in Bale's case the biggest match in club football, and that should have guaranteed that the award should have gone to either of them.

Their goals were joined in the top 10 nominations by efforts from the likes of Lionel Messi, Portugal's Ricardo Quaresma and France's Benjamin Pavard, who scored a memorable goal during the World Cup against Argentina.

Salah's Liverpool teammate James Milner joked on social media that the winning goal was only Salah's "7th best goal from last season".

And many others voiced their surprise on Twitter at the decision.

The biggest news of the night was Luca Modric ending Ronaldo and Messi’s decade-long domination of football’s individual awards by being crowned Fifa’s best player of the year.

For the first time in 12 years, Messi was not among the finalists with second place going to Ronaldo and third place going to Salah.

Modric was joined by Real teammates Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo in the FIFPro team of the year, also featuring David de Gea, Dani Alves, N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe, Messi and Ronaldo. Interestingly there was no place for Salah, despite his third place in the best player vote.

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Read more:

Luka Modric ends Ronaldo-Messi dominance to win Fifa player of the year

Will Mohamed Salah be a one-season wonder?

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