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SA young gun misses out on FIFA's goal of the year

Soccer

Australia’s Riley McGree has been controversially overlooked for FIFA’s Puskas Award, with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah winning the coveted gong for goal of the season.

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McGree’s audacious Scorpion kick for the Newcastle Jets against Melbourne City in the A-League was one of 10 finalists at an awards ceremony in London.

But the South Australian was overlooked for Salah’s strike against Everton in the Merseyside derby, with many football pundits believing it wasn’t even the Egyptian’s best goal of last season.

Liverpool’s prolific striker, who had also been shortlisted for player of the year, spun past two Everton players before curling a left-foot shot into the far corner.

The goal gained 38 per cent of the more than 500,000 votes cast, but the perception remains had McGree’s unique goal been scored in Europe in a more high-profile league it would have been a different outcome.

Another great goal overlooked was Gareth Bale’s stunning bicycle kick that flew past Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius in last season’s Champions League final.

Also missing out were Matildas coach Alen Stajcic for women’s coach of the year and hotshot national team striker Sam Kerr for best women’s player.

Stajcic was pipped by Olympique Lyonnais Feminin boss Reynald Pedros, whose side stamped their authority as the best women’s club side by claiming a Champions League and French league double last season.

The Matildas reached an all-time high ranking under Stajcic at the end of 2017, rising to No.4 in the world off the back of a string of strong results.

They enjoyed two victories against Brazil and lost the final of the Asian Cup to Japan during the voting period from August 7 2017 to May 24 2018.

Kerr was one of 10 finalists named for the best women’s player award but strangely omitted from the final shortlist of three.

Apart from playing a significant part in the Matildas’ rise, the West Australian also scored 17 goals for Sky Blue FC last season – making her the leading goalscorer in the US National Women’s Soccer League.

The 25-year-old also scored three goals in the Matildas’ run to the Asian Cup final last year and scored 11 goals in 14 games for Australia in 2017/18.

The best women’s player award went to Brazil and US-based Orlando striker Marta, who won the accolade for a record sixth time.

– AAP

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