Soccer, or football to the rest of the world, has had a rebirth of atmosphere in 2021 as fans have largely returned to the grounds. It has elevated the level of play, and it has been a much better year of soccer in 2021 than in 2020.
There is still a month left in 2021, and it’s a busy fixture time for many leagues around the world. But we do have almost the entire year to review, and we’re too eager to wait.
Full disclosure: this probably won’t be the 21 best soccer plays of the year, because I’m sure some things slipped through the cracks. But this is a collection of 21 of the best soccer plays from 2021, in no particular order. If you know of plays that didn’t make the cut here, please send them our way.
21 Great Soccer Plays From 2021
1: Thiago Kicks a Curveball
Thiago essentially kicked a curveball to score a Champions League goal again Porto.
2: Havertz Champions League Final Goal
It’s a nice goal but not one you’d see on this list in a vacuum, but when you add in the context, you can’t ignore it.
3: Elisha Sam Is Nonchalant
Elisha Sam coolly scored one of the best goals of the year for Notts County.
4: Lewandowski on His Bike
Robert Lewandowski got on his bike against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League and does what he does best: scored a goal.
5: Tielemans Wins the FA Cup
With the FA Cup tied at 0-0, Youri Tielemans ripped this screamer from outside the box that gave Leicester City a trophy celebration.
6: Euro 2020 Final PK Shootout
It’s arguably more than one play, but it doesn’t matter – this was one of the most dramatic, enthralling, and unforgettable moments in the soccer year, and so I can’t leave it out of this list of the best 2021 plays.
7: Mo Salah Dices City’s Defense
One of the more stunning goals you’ll ever see in an incredibly massive match: the perfect recipe for a top soccer play of the year.
8: Patrik Schick From Half
Patrik Schick had an amazing Euro 2020, and this was the exclamation point of his performance.
9: Sebastian Thill Lifts Sheriff Tiraspol over Real Madrid
This screamer in the 89th minute gave Sheriff the 2-1 victory over one of the biggest clubs in the world and sent shockwaves through the soccer world.
10: Alex Telles Gets United Level
Alex Telles scored a wonderful goal to bring Manchester United level with Villarreal in a Champions League showdown.
11: Sandra Owusu Ansah in the Ghana Women’s Premier League
Sandra Owusu Ansah smashed this one from distance for the Supreme Ladies, and it was inarguably one of the best goals of the year.
12: Memphis Depay Starts Hat Trick
Memphis Depay scored a hat trick against Turkey and got it started with this amazing combination goal.
13: Alisson Last-Minute Winner
This goal is ridiculous on its own, but then you add in the context of Liverpool needing three points to remain in Champions League contention, and it cannot be ignored.
14: Andros Townsend Worldie
Scoring wordlies is kind of Andros Townsend’s thing, and he did it with gusto against Burnley.
15: Pedro Makes Magic in Roma Derby
Pedro made magic happen to help Roma defeat Lazio in the Roma Derby.
16: Jakob Glesnes Playoff Decider
Glesnes was on here earlier for a last-minute screamer, and this one is even better in every way.
17: Christian Pullisic Pen Beats Mexico
Christian Pulisic nailed a penalty to give USA the 3-2 win over Mexico in extra time in the CONCACAF Nations League Final, setting in motion a successful summer for the Americans.
18: Gabriel Costa From Midfield Against No. 8 Stanford
SMU’s Gabriel Costa scored two goals in 15 seconds to lift SMU over No. 8 Stanford, 3-1, but his second was especially memorable.
19: Messi’s Scores Against City
This is vintage Messi but in a PSG kit – and against City, of all teams.
20: Caroline Weir Shocks United
Caroline Weir scored an outstanding goal, looping the ball over the keeper in the Manchester Derby.
21: Aleksandar Mitrovic Stuns Portugal
The goal itself wasn’t particularly amazing, but what it means is why it’s here – Serbia is on to the World Cup, Portugal has to play in a playoff to qualify.