Anatomy of a goal: Caroline Weir's outrageous Manchester derby lob

Ali Rampling
Caroline Weir hit a sumptuous lob against Manchester United
Caroline Weir hit a sumptuous lob against Manchester United / Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The Manchester derby is one of English football's all-time classic crunch clashes. Netting a goal in the fixture is the stuff of dreams - let alone an absolute worldie.

What's better than scoring one wonder goal for Manchester City against rivals Manchester United?

Scoring a second the following season.

Caroline Weir had the honour of netting the first Manchester derby goal in WSL history when she hit a stunning effort from range - that soared into the top corner - in front of over 30,000 fans at the Etihad in September 2019.

Fast forward 17 months and quite a lot has changed in the world - Manchester City have a new manager, Manchester United have blossomed into title challengers and there are currently no fans at stadiums thanks to the small matter of a global pandemic.

But amid all of the world's change, chaos and unpredictability, one thing has remained a constant; when a Manchester derby takes place at the home of the Citizens, Caroline Weir will score a worldie.

The 2020/21 Manchester derby was the WSL's most important yet. With the Red Devils - in just their second season in the top flight - challenging at the league summit and sitting two points clear of City prior to kick off, there was more than just Mancunian pride at stake. This was a fixture with serious ramifications for the WSL title race.

Hemp and Bronze were on the scoresheet prior to Weir's wonder goal
Hemp and Bronze were on the scoresheet prior to Weir's wonder goal / Visionhaus/Getty Images

City found themselves 2-0 up with 10 minutes left on the clock via goals from Lucy Bronze and Lauren Hemp - both in part thanks to some questionable United defending.

However, no amount of criticism of the United backline could overshadow City's third.

It was Weir who initially started off the first phase of the move, driving forward from deep, the tiring United midfield seemingly melting away as she charged towards goal.

The Scotland international fed Alex Greenwood, whose cross was eventually half cleared to Ella Toone on the edge of the Red Devils box.

However, the United midfielder's attempted cushioned pass to Jackie Groenen was under hit, and the lively Weir was quick to pounce on the mistake. The 25-year-old collected the loose ball and eased herself past Groenen in one motion, dragging the ball back with the underside of her foot and shifting her weight onto her left.

The instinctive lob was a thing of beauty
The instinctive lob was a thing of beauty / Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Weir's second touch saw her nudge the ball past the lunging Dutch midfielder, maintaining her footing despite Groenen's extended leg having the potential to disrupt her balance.

There's hardly even a glance towards goal from the Scotland midfielder - but in between her second touch and her third she registered that Mary Earps was about a metre off her goal line and slightly left of centre.

And then comes the third touch. The magical, outrageous, ridiculous third touch.

From the short, sharp, intense quick feet to work herself the space on the edge of the United box, suddenly everything stood still. Weir dug her left foot under the ball - with no follow through in order to control the pace of the chip - and watched as it arced slowly and elegantly over the outstretched arm of Earps.

Any lower and the United goalkeeper would have got a finger tip to it, any higher and it would have clattered the top of the bar. It was a lob measured to perfection.

Weir's wonder goal in last season's Manchester derby ended up being nominated for the prestigious FIFA Puskas award. There's no point debating which one is better - it's like picking a favourite child.

Her 2019 goal is like the perfect older child with their flawless behaviour (textbook power and swerve) and excellent A Level results (FIFA Puskas award nomination). Weir's 2021 effort is the mischievous younger kid. Cheeky, outrageous and audacious. Shades of Eric Cantona against Sunderland in 1996 and Glenn Hoddle against Watford in 1983.

We look forward to whatever you have up your sleeve for next season's Manchester derby, Caroline.