Not only was Kyle Lafferty renowned for scoring important goals in big games he did so in style. Joel Sked picks out the five best.
Hearts 1 - 3 Rangers - 28 October 2017
The game may have been memorable for Kenny Miller coming back in from the cold to score two goals for Graeme Murty’s side but the best goal belonged to Lafferty. A free-kick more than 25 yards out - it looked further - it was in a position which prompts fans to think ‘no chance he’s scoring’. As for the opposition they’d be largely content at someone attempting a shot.
What followed was simply incredible. His long, flailing limbs acted like a trebuchet, flinging the ball at pace over the wall, past a helpless Wes Foderingham and into the top corner. The technique was on point, the pace, the power, the precision. It was not too dissimilar to David Beckham’s famous free-kick for England against Greece, albeit that was more central.
Hearts 4 - 0 Celtic - 17 December 2017
The standout win from the Ladbrokes Premiership season. A struggling Hearts team wiped the floor with the champions, ending their 67 game unbeaten domestic run. And Lafferty played his part. Hearts had already taken the lead through Harry Cochrane much to the surprise of the home crowd, aways fans and neutrals everywhere. That was about to turn to disbelief.
Pressure was exerted on Callum McGregor from Prince Buaben, allowing David Milinkovic to nick the ball from the Celtic midfielder and drive forward. Peeling right, holding his run to stay onside, Lafferty collected the ball as the pitch opened up. However, with pace not a great asset, Lafferty took two composed touches to move the ball forward and out his feet. Again, he was shooting from an angle and distance which Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon would have been more than comfortable. The slight issue for the former Hearts No.1 was that Lafferty hit the ball perfectly.
From outside the box he zipped a daisy cutter across the box and into the back of the net via the post. The noise and celebrations which followed could best be described as rambunctious.
• READ MORE: How Hearts planned ahead for Kyle Lafferty’s exit
Hearts 1 - 3 Celtic - 6 May 2018
There must have been a feeling of deja vu for Celtic. Back at Tynecastle, back under the cosh, Lafferty back on the scoresheet. The ball bounced about midfield before Hearts were able to pounce, Don Cowie feeding Lewis Moore who, with the aid of a fortunate touch, was able to divert the ball into the Northern Irishman’s path, again having peeled to the right.
His first touch didn’t kill the ball as he probably hoped. No matter. As it bounced back up he readjusted himself and thumped in a volley. Although it was more torpedo-like than volley. If Scott Bain in the Celtic goal had got in front of the ball he would still be left with a ball-shaped hole in his body.
Hearts 2 - 1 Hibs - 9 May 2018
It was of great frustration to the 30-year-old that he had not made an impact in an Edinburgh derby. The final one of the season was important for both clubs and required an important goal. Step forward Kyle Lafferty.
This goal was different to the rest. Well, mostly. Again, the striker had found himself on the right hand side of the box. Steven Naismith played a through ball but hadn’t quite got enough purchase on the pass allowing Lewis Stevenson to intercept. However, the Hibs left-back was unaware of Lafferty who nipped to take the ball off his toes. From there he used his long legs to drag the ball into his path before, with Paul Hanlon closing in, toe-poking the ball into the corner past Ofir Marciano.
It was striking play at its finest. Pure instinct and composure in the box.
Hearts 1 - 0 Celtic - 11 August 2018
Without captain Christophe Berra Hearts were holding their own against Celtic in a tense and somewhat tempestuous affair. It was one of those game which fell into the cliché of a winning goal coming from a bit of magic or a mistake. With Lafferty in tow against Celtic it was always going to be the former.
Great forward play from Uche Ikpeazu opened up Celtic as the striker took Jack Hendry to the cleaners. He then stood the ball up into an area where he expected, hoped even, there would be a Hearts player. Stationed on the left, Lafferty suddenly appeared. He caught the ball sweet on the volley, guiding it expertly into the bottom corner. On first viewing it looked as if it had taken a deflection but it was simply a stunning piece of finishing.
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