Bent's infamous beachball strike, Henry's cheeky quick free-kick and Enckelman letting a throw-in roll under his foot... after Smith Rowe smashed past a stricken De Gea at Man United, here are the most bizarre Premier League goals

A number of controversial goals have been scored in Premier League history Emile Smith Rowe's opener against Manchester United counts as one of them His strike was allowed to stand despite David de Gea being down and injured The goal soon brought back memories of other notably bizarre top-flight efforts Darren Bent, Thierry Henry and Peter Enckelman feature in Sportsmail 's list... 

The Premier League is known around the world for its sheer number of goals, but not all of them can be easy on the eye. In fact, across its glittering history, there are plenty that stand out for all the wrong reasons and remain controversial to this day.

One of them took place in the five-goal thriller between Manchester United and Arsenal this week. While it is not the standout worst, it caused a stir among supporters for just how bonkers it was. However, it was rightly allowed to stand.

Mikel Arteta said he had never seen a strike like it, and Michael Carrick appeared relieved that – after leaving United – he would no longer have to talk about it. After all, the ball hit the back of the net with an injured David de Gea down on the floor.

Arsenal's opening goal at Manchester United may well go down as one of the strangest ever

Arsenal’s opening goal at Manchester United may well go down as one of the strangest ever

Emile Smith Rowe (centre) was able to fire home despite keeper David de Gea being injured

Emile Smith Rowe (centre) was able to fire home despite keeper David de Gea being injured

Martin Odegaard’s corner on 13 minutes was hoisted into the penalty area, and Mohamed Elneny seized on the partial clearance from Harry Maguire to steer a pass across to Smith Rowe, who was stood 20 yards out and chanced his arm.

But after Maguire headed away, De Gea’s heel was trodden on by his team-mate Fred, forcing him to drop down to the turf in agony. There he remained, facing away from play, as Smith Rowe’s shot whistled through bodies and hit the back of the net.

After a lengthy VAR check, the goal was given. United, perhaps understandably, were incensed – but the simple fact is that there was no foul committed in the build-up. Unfortunately for them, the injury came from Fred’s touch. 

In the immediate aftermath, memories were stirred up of other similarly bizarre moments in the top-flight. Darren Bent’s beachball intervention, a wily free-quick from Thierry Henry and Nani’s strange moment of genius all rank highly. 

De Gea's foot was trodden on Fred, his own team-mate, and the goal stood as there was no foul

De Gea’s foot was trodden on Fred, his own team-mate, and the goal stood as there was no foul

 

DARREN BENT’S BEACHBALL DISASTER

Game: Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool, October 2009

It was described by Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez as a ‘special situation’, but those supporting the club on this particular away day opted for much stronger language. And who can blame them, considering a beach ball settled this clash.

Darren Bent let fly from the edge of the penalty area, a routine shot which goalkeeper Pepe Reina looked set to gobble up with ease. But in a strange twist, the ball then struck a beach ball on the field, wrong-footing the stopper.

Reina went one way, the strike went the other and the goal was, miraculously given. Across most of the ground, the crowd went wild. In the travelling section, the atmosphere was one of confusion and disbelief.

Darren Bent crashed home the winner against Liverpool with some help from a beach ball

Darren Bent crashed home the winner against Liverpool with some help from a beach ball

After all, that notorious red inflatable had been bouncing around in the away end before kick-off, and it ended up on the pitch after a touch from 16-year-old fan Callum Campbell.

When Campbell got home, he recalled being physically sick in the garden – and also received death threats on the internet.  

‘How was I supposed to know what would happen? It was just a bit of fun, and if I could turn back the clock and do it differently, throw the ball into the crowd instead of on to the pitch, then I would,’ he told The Mirror.

The ball is now ‘usually on display’ as part of The People’s Collection at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

Bent wheeled away to celebrate despite the controversial manner of the strike for Sunderland

Bent wheeled away to celebrate despite the controversial manner of the strike for Sunderland

 

DION DUBLIN’S SNEAKY BLINDSIDE RUN

Game: Coventry City 2-2 Newcastle United, November 1997 

It only took four minutes of the clash for one of the most controversial goals in the history of the Premier League to be scored.

Coventry striker Dion Dublin, now of Homes Under The Hammer fame, left Shay Given embarrassed after disappearing off the field and robbing back the ball.

Gary McAllister lofted in a high, looping delivery towards the far post, but Given rose highest to claim it with both hands. However, behind the stretching ‘keeper, Dublin made a run and continued forwards, careering off the field.

Coventry striker Dion Dublin pounced on a loose ball inside the box despite being off the field

Coventry striker Dion Dublin pounced on a loose ball inside the box despite being off the field

He then stopped narrowly short of the advertising hoardings before the goal, before turning and making his way back into play. What took place next still raises the eyebrows, with Given left unaware that Dublin was now approaching. 

As a result, the goalkeeper threw the ball out of his gloves and a few yards forward, presenting Dublin with the opportunity to pounce. The frontman duly did just that, rushing around Given’s right hand and sliding into the unguarded net.

The goal was allowed to stand, and Given even laughed the incident off after the game – jokingly saying he was the only Irishman not to know where Dublin was. 

Shay Given rolled the ball forward and Dublin, running in behind him, slotted into the open net

Shay Given rolled the ball forward and Dublin, running in behind him, slotted into the open net

 

HERNAN CRESPO’S OFFSIDE RUN 

Game: Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea, October 2003

This match is largely remembered for the calamitous mistake from Carlo Cudicini which gifted Arsenal an invaluable win over fellow title contenders Chelsea. 

But near the start of the game, Hernan Crespo scored a rasping drive from distance to light up the affair. What was the problem, you ask? Well, he was offside.

VAR has rightly been accused of sucking the life out of the modern game, but the technology would have been on hand to rule this one out. Replays show it was not a difficult decision, with Crespo clearly beyond the last man.

Edu fired Arsenal ahead after just four minutes, but Crespo outshone his effort three minutes later to level the scores. He returned from an offside position, jinked inside and dispatched with aplomb beyond the rooted Jens Lehmann.

To make matters worse, Crespo was even tying his laces while behind the home side’s backline. He became alert and dashed in to collect Geremi’s through-ball, before cutting in past Lauren and picking out the top corner. 

Hernan Crespo netted a superb goal against Arsenal, but his run came from an offside position

Hernan Crespo netted a superb goal against Arsenal, but his run came from an offside position

 

THIERRY HENRY’S QUICK-THINKING FREE KICK

Game: Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal, January 2004 

Ironically, after Smith Rowe’s opening goal against United at Old Trafford, Amazon Prime reminded Thierry Henry about a cheeky goal of his own from his career. With a wry smile, he re-watched the footage of the strike which still causes anger.

During a clash between Aston Villa and Arsenal, the visitors were awarded a free-kick around the edge of the box. In typical fashion, Villa set about trying to set up their wall and spacing, but Henry asked the referee if he could take his shot.

Mark Halsey nodded, and the forward coolly lifted the ball into the bottom right corner of the net, despite goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen being on the other side to direct his team-mates in the wall.

There was a split second of utter bemusement when the shot nestled inside the goal, before Villa launched forwards towards Halsey out of sheer anger. Mark Delaney was booked, but there was no swaying the official. Somehow, the goal counted.

Thierry Henry was given the nod from the referee to take a quick free-kick against Aston Villa

Thierry Henry was given the nod from the referee to take a quick free-kick against Aston Villa

Halsey recalled: ‘I gave the option to Thierry Henry: “Do you want to take it quickly or do you want the wall 10 yards?” he reported. ‘His reply was “a quick free-kick”.

‘I stood back and made a quick signal for him to go on and take it – I didn’t say to the Aston Villa players “move back 10 yards”. 

‘I can understand their frustration at conceding a goal that way but I’m under no obligation to inform the Aston Villa players that Henry is going to take a quick free-kick. You are under no obligation to give a whistle for any free-kick.’

Henry was much more simplistic when questioned on his thinking, however. ‘It’s happened against us before, so I tried my luck today,’ the scorer said.  

Villa were left incensed by the goal, but Henry's effort stood and remains bizarre to this day

Villa were left incensed by the goal, but Henry’s effort stood and remains bizarre to this day

 

PETER ENCKELMAN’S DISASTROUS TOUCH

Game: Birmingham 3-0 Aston Villa, September 2002

This ranks highly as one of the most comical goals in the top-flight’s history books, unless you are a goalkeeper, that is. For those unlucky enough to have had experience between the sticks, Peter Enckelman’s mistake is just brutal.

A seemingly innocuous throw-in from Olof Mellberg was directed back towards his stopper. Enckelman, however, lifted his foot slightly and the ball rolled under his touch before ending up in the net – in the Second City derby, of all places.

Referee David Elleray deemed the stopper to have made contact with the throw-in, and therefore allowed the goal to stand. After the game, and to this day, both players involved in the situation have aired their bewilderment at the mistake.   

Aston Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckelman allowed a throw-in to graze under his boot and roll in

Aston Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckelman allowed a throw-in to graze under his boot and roll in

‘You can’t believe that it is true,’ Mellberg complained.

‘I threw it towards Peter Enckelman to allow him to start an attack. But I feel that Enckelman never touched the ball.’

A clearly dejected Enckelman found himself taunted by a Birmingham supporter, who invaded the pitch to celebrate the own goal, but the goalkeeper was adamant that he had not grazed the top of the ball. 

‘I don’t know if I touched the ball,’ he grumbled post-match. I don’t think so. If I did, it must have been a minimal touch.’

To no avail, Enckelman raced back to try and kick the ball away and an own goal was awarded

To no avail, Enckelman raced back to try and kick the ball away and an own goal was awarded

 

ROBBIE KEANE SEES DERBY BOIL OVER 

Game: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham, April 2006 

In the last north London derby at Highbury, Thierry Henry was brought off the bench to rescue Arsenal a point. However, his leveller may have counted for more had Tottenham’s only goal of the game been chalked off.

The visitors piled on the pressure in the early stages, but were forced to be patient before reaping the rewards. Their opener arrived in the 66th minute through Robbie Keane, in incredibly controversial circumstances.

Edgar Davids broke away down the left flank and slid an inch-perfect ball across for Keane to tap home at the far post. Those clad in white wheeled away to celebrate, but the hosts were left aggrieved that play wasn’t stop.

That was because two Arsenal players, Emmanuel Eboue and Gilberto, collided in the centre circle and both were prostrate on the ground at the time Keane scored. 

To little surprise, tensions reached fever pitch all across the ground. Arsene Wenger and Spurs boss Martin Jol even squared up on the touchline, and they also refused to share the customary handshake at the final whistle.

Robbie Keane scored against Arsenal at Highbury despite two host players being down injured

Robbie Keane scored against Arsenal at Highbury despite two host players being down injured

Jose Antonio Reyes (right) voiced his anger after Emmanuel Eboue and Gilberto collided

Jose Antonio Reyes (right) voiced his anger after Emmanuel Eboue and Gilberto collided

 

NANI BIZARRELY PUNISHES TOTTENHAM 

Game: Manchester United 2-0 Tottenham, October 2010 

Harry Redknapp labelled this incident ‘scandalous’ and his players surrounded referee Mark Clattenburg and his assistant after the goal and at full-time. Their appeals fell on deaf ears, though, meaning this jaw-dropping example stood.

With Manchester United leading 1-0 against Tottenham, Nani appealed for a penalty after being tackled by Younes Kaboul inside the box on 84 minutes. Clattenburg waved away his shout, and Nani lay on the floor with his hand on the ball.

Heurelho Gomes, spotting this strange scene, believed that Spurs were awarded a free-kick. He then rolled the ball a few yards away to take the set-piece, only for Nani to spring to his feet and then tuck inside the empty net for United’s second. 

Luis Nani hit a controversial second goal for Manchester United in their win over Tottenham

Luis Nani hit a controversial second goal for Manchester United in their win over Tottenham

What was sparked was nothing short of bedlam. Clattenburg’s assistant raised his flag to add to the confusion, and boss Redknapp aired his anger post-match.

‘Nani put his hands on the ball,’ he said. ‘It was deliberate handball and the assistant referee sees it. It was a freekick to us but I don’t think the referee saw it.

‘I think Mark Clattenburg is a good ref but he made a mess of this.

‘It was a scandalous decision and a farcical way to end the game. But the officials will come up with a story that will make it look right.’

Heurelho Gomes believed Spurs were awarded a free-kick, but Nani robbed the ball to score

Heurelho Gomes believed Spurs were awarded a free-kick, but Nani robbed the ball to score

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