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There are not many things funnier in football than a spectacularly bad own goal, unless it is scored by your team. They are fairly uncommon but are still very much a part of the game and it is difficult not to appreciate the comedy value when a player inadvertently sticks the ball into their own net, especially when there are so many shining examples to choose from throughout the 31-year history of the Premier League.
Express Sport takes a look at five of the worst own goals to have graced England’s top flight over the years, starting with a particularly hilarious effort from Tottenham icon Gareth Bale…
Gareth Bale – Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool (2012)
Liverpool’s only goal of the game at White Hart Lane arrived courtesy of an embarrassing moment from Bale, who was left helpless to prevent the ball from cannoning off his face and bouncing into the back of his own net. A corner swung in by Reds midfielder Jonjo Shelvey sparked pinball in the box before Aaron Lennon, who was stood on the near post, attempted to hack the ball away from danger as it approached the bottom corner following Daniel Agger’s header.
Lennon was only able to smash his intended clearance into the face of Bale, who was standing nearby, before it bounced back and nestled in the goal without the Welshman knowing too much about what had happened. He had already managed to set up Lennon for Tottenham’s first goal of the game before converting at the right end of the pitch with a brilliant free kick of his own, though, to ensure that the hosts picked up all three points in spite of his misfortune.
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Phil Jones – Newcastle 3-0 Man Utd (2012)
Newcastle made light work of Manchester United to dent the Red Devils’ title hopes in January 2012 and were helped to victory late on by a shocking own goal courtesy of Phil Jones. The United defender was backpedalling in order to deal with a long ball forward in the direction of Magpies forward Leon Best but got his angles all wrong as he stooped to head the ball out for a corner, only for his effort to beat David de Gea and bounce into the net.
United were already two goals down at this point and Jones’ embarrassing slip-up dashed any hopes of a remarkable late comeback for the visitors, who went on to concede the Premier League title to neighbours Manchester City on a frantic final day that saw Sergio Aguero score his now-famous winner against Queens Park Rangers to make history at the Etihad Stadium.
Lauren – Man City 1-2 Arsenal (2003)
Arsenal managed to beat Manchester City early in the campaign to end the day with the Premier League’s only perfect record but they were made to work hard for the result after Lauren’s spectacular own goal in the early stages of the contest. The French defender, who would go on to form a crucial part of the Arsenal side that went invincible that season, inexplicably dribbled towards his own net in an attempt to get away from an onrushing City forward before poking the ball past team-mate Jens Lehmann and into the bottom corner.
It was a brilliant finish in fairness, with Lauren showing great control to bring the ball down and firing sweetly into the far corner with an effort that left Lehmann rooted to his mark. It was just a shame that it came at the wrong end of the pitch, although Arsenal went on to put things right to come back in the second half thanks to legitimate goals from Sylvain Wiltord and Freddie Ljungberg.
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Peter Enckleman – Birmingham City 3-0 Aston Villa (2002)
Peter Enckleman suffered a career-defining humiliation in the Second City derby 21 years ago when he failed to control a throw-in from Olof Mellberg that ended up with the ball rolling slowly over the line. All he needed to do was to trap it normally before passing out of his feet but he allowed it to slip underneath the sole of his boot, although he did manage to get a slight touch which saw him credited with the own goal.
Enckleman was then confronted by a jubilant Birmingham City fan who wasted no time in entering the pitch to poke fun at the Aston Villa goalkeeper, who conceded twice more that night to hand the hosts a famous derby win over their bitter rivals. The incident birthed a clip which has been shown time and time again in compilations of the funniest own goals and will probably continue to be remembered as one of the most bizarre moments to have ever graced the Premier League for the foreseeable future.
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Tony Popovic – Portsmouth 3-1 Crystal Palace (2004)
Tony Popovic once had a moment to forget against Portsmouth when his attempted clearance from close range flew into the back of his own net, although it was the manner of the finish that had people talking. The Aussie defender stuck out his boot and managed to pull off a deft mid-air flick with the back of his heel that would have been a stunning effort if it had been at the correct end of the pitch.
Julian Speroni could only stand and watch in horror as the ball floated into the far corner to wrap up all three points for Portsmouth, who were already leading 2-1 thanks to goals from Ricardo Fuller and Patrik Berger. Danny Granville had equalised for Crystal Palace prior to Berger’s second-half strike to put the hosts back in front but Popovic’s spectacular miscalculation ended any hopes of the visitors snatching a draw at Fratton Park with just five minutes left to play.
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