With no Premier League to contend with, football fans had to make do with a busy weekend of World Cup qualifying action – and it didn’t disappoint.
While Northern Ireland were the only home nation to taste victory with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Azerbaijan, there were goals aplenty in England’s 2-2 draw with Scotland at Hampden, even if fans had to wait until the final five minutes for most of the action.
Elsewhere, Ireland battled to a 1-1 draw with Austria that, combined with other results, helped maintain their four-point cushion from third.
Away from the results themselves, however, there was a veritable feast of great goals – here are our favourite seven.
Harry Kane vs Scotland
Sorry Scotland fans, but it was Kane who stole the show North of the Border, bagging a crucial last-gasp equaliser in the most sublime of circumstances after two Leigh Griffiths’ free-kicks had seen the hosts turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead going into the final few minutes.
Granted, both of Griffiths’ free-kicks were excellent but here at loaded we still have some question marks over Joe Hart’s positioning. Kane’s goal, however, was pure class.
Lorenzo Insigne vs Liechtenstein
Insigne’s goal for Italy may have come against European minnows Liechtenstein but that doesn’t detract from the incredible skill and athleticism of this kind of effort.
The diminutive Napoli man came of age last season in a campaign that saw him score a memorable goal against Real Madrid and with Italy well on course to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, he looks one to watch.
Aaron Ramsey vs Serbia
As impressive a Panenka penalty attempt as you are likely to find – even if he did deviate from the rules by chipping the ball into the right-hand corner rather than the centre of the goal – Ramsey was coolness personified in a qualifier Wales simply could not afford to lose.
After bagging his second winner in an FA Cup final a few weeks back, Arsenal fans must be relishing the return of the league season with the Welshman in this kind of form.
John Walters vs Austria
A worthy entry for the sheer, old-school, blunderbuss style of it all, the build up to Ireland’s goal may not have been all that pretty – a ball hoofed up field for Walters to follow – but the Stoke forward showed exactly why he’s beloved of Green Army fans the world over.
Chasing the ball down, putting Austria’s backline under pressure, Walters gambles and wins with a combination of brute strength and calm composure to give Ireland a precious point.
Ledian Memushaj vs Israel
With Spain and Italy joint top of their group and already some seven points clear, Albania are playing for pride as much as anything, with one eye on ensuring they get as favourable a qualifying group as possible for Euro 2020.
A 3-0 away victory over Israel is as about as impressive as it gets with Serie A veteran Ledian Memushaj finishing off a sublime counter-attacking team goal that suggests this Albania side could have gone even further, had they landed in a more favourable group.
Stevan Jovetic vs Armenia
Unfairly cast aside by Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, Jovetic did a good job of showing the Citizens what they were missing on loan at Sevilla last season and remains Montenegro’s main man in qualifying.
Currently second in their qualifying group, ahead of Denmark on goal difference, Jovetic has been the key with the 27-year-old managing six goals in six qualifying games, including a hat-trick against an underrated Armenia team.
Here he capped it off with a sublime bicycle kick – the Premier League’s loss could be the World Cup’s gain.
Michael Bradley vs Mexico
Last but definitely not least, this effort from another Premier League reject is arguably the best goal of the weekend and perhaps any other weekend witnessed in 2017.
On the counter-attack against arch-rivals Mexico, midfielder Bradley spots the goalkeeper off his line before unleashing a long-range lob that is delicate, precise and beautiful. Not bad for a player who featured just three times for Aston Villa in the Premier league.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.