Last week’s round of Premier League fixtures saw plenty of drama, with both Manchester City and Liverpool keeping up their astonishing pace in the race for the league title, while Champions League contenders like Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham lost some ground.
Perhaps the most astonishing thing to happen last week though came in the 1-1 draw between Watford and relegation-fighting Southampton, as a 19-year-old record was broken when Shane Long scored for the Saints after just 7.69 seconds, becoming the fastest goalscorer in Premier League history in the process.
It’s almost hard to believe that someone could score a goal in a faster time than Usain Bolt can run the 100m, but Long managed it. He’s not the only quick goalscorer in Premier League history though of course – here are the 5 fastest goals in the history of England’s top division.
#5 Mark Viduka: 11.90 seconds for Leeds United vs. Charlton Athletic – 2000/01
Leeds famously reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2000/01, and part of their success that season was down to the goals of their Australian striker Mark Viduka. He plundered a total of 22 across all competitions, including 17 in the Premier League – and one of them was one of the fastest goals in the history of the competition.
In Leeds’ March 2001 meeting with Charlton at the Valley, defender Ian Harte lumped a long ball up the field from kick-off, and Alan Smith caught the Addicks’ defence cold with a flick-on which landed in the path of Viduka, who quickly controlled the ball before slotting past Sasa Ilic.
The goal took just under 12 seconds, stunning the home side, and it was a stark reminder of Viduka’s deadly skills in front of goal.
Charlton did manage to equalise later in the first half, but fascinatingly enough they were eventually undone by another extremely quick goal; Smith ended up scoring the winner just 44 seconds into the second half after a quick break following a Charlton shot.
The victory set Leeds onto a strong run of 8 wins in their last 9 games as they finished in 4th in the league table, with Viduka scoring a further 3 goals.
#4 Christian Eriksen: 10.54 seconds for Tottenham vs. Manchester United – 2017/18
Tottenham wasted absolutely no time in their January 2018 meeting with Manchester United at Wembley, as they shell-shocked Jose Mourinho’s side by scoring through midfielder Christian Eriksen after just under 11 seconds.
The game was expected to be a tricky one for Champions League-chasing Spurs, as United were attempting to overhaul rivals Manchester City at the top of the table, but in the end it turned out to be a comfortable 2-0 win for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Although it was Eriksen who put the ball into the back of the net, most of the plaudits for the goal went to Dele Alli, who completely threw the United defence off their game with his back-heeled flick into the path of the onrushing Dane to set up the goal.
The move actually originated from kick-off, with a long punt being flicked on to Alli by the head of Harry Kane, and from there the England midfielder caught Chris Smalling napping.
The goal was Eriksen’s 7th in the Premier League that season and remains one of the most memorable Tottenham goals under Pochettino, largely due to the strength of their opponents at the time; the win for Spurs snapped a 8-match unbeaten win for United and marked just their 4th loss of 2017/18 to that point.
#3 Alan Shearer: 10.52 seconds for Newcastle United vs. Manchester City – 2002/03
Despite hanging up his boots way back in 2006, Alan Shearer remains the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer with a crazy total of 260 goals, putting him 52 strikes ahead of his nearest rival in the scoring stakes – Everton and Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney.
It seems fitting then that he’d have one of the fastest goals in the history of the competition to his name, too.
Shearer was actually facing off with one of his former managers – Newcastle legend Kevin Keegan, who was then in charge of a pre-Abu Dhabi takeover Manchester City – when he scored his sub-11 second goal in January 2003.
This time the goal didn’t come from a long punt down the field, but from a serious error from City goalkeeper Carlo Nash.
City’s defence rolled the ball back to Nash from the kick-off, but despite having plenty of time, the keeper dithered with his clearance for way too long, and ended up kicking the ball directly into the path of the onrushing Shearer.
It came as no surprise to see Shearer eagerly intercept it and roll it into the empty net. Even for a man who made scoring look simple, this was a ridiculously easy goal that should never have been gifted to him.
#2 Ledley King: 9.82 seconds for Tottenham vs. Bradford City – 2000/01
Bradford City had a pretty diabolical time in the 2000/01 season, as they were relegated from the Premier League after finishing rock bottom with a total of just 26 points.
The goal saw a – you guessed it – long punt up the field cleared by Bradford’s defence, only for the ball to fall into the path of King. The future Spurs captain controlled it, dribbled it forward and hit a right-footed shot towards goal.
The shot was actually a pretty tame one, but it took a horrible deflection off a defender and goalkeeper Matt Clarke horribly off-guard, leaving him as a static bystander as the ball bobbled into the net.
The game turned out to be an absolute thriller – the sides played out a 3-3 draw with Bradford coming from 1-3 down and Benito Carbone rescuing a point with an 89th minute equaliser – but today it’s obviously more well-remembered for King’s astonishingly quick goal, which held the record as the Premier League’s fastest for 19 years before it was finally broken a week ago.
#1 Shane Long: 7.69 seconds for Southampton vs. Watford – 2018/19
Not only did this goal take more than two seconds off King’s long-standing record, but it was a surprisingly brilliant finish from Southampton’s Shane Long too, who capitalised on a suicidal piece of defending from Watford’s usually solid Craig Cathcart.
The ball was passed back to Cathcart from the kick-off, but he hit what should’ve been an easy long ball directly at Long, who stunned him with an interception before charging onto the ball.
Cathcart immediately gave chase, but was unable to catch up to Long, who raced into the Watford penalty area with keeper Ben Foster still to beat.
Keeping his cool though, Long dinked the ball over the onrushing Foster and into the back of the net – giving Southampton the lead after just 7 seconds of the game, smashing the record for the Premier League’s fastest goal in the process.
The goal essentially summed up Long’s return to form in 2018/19, as he’d actually begun to gain a reputation for being one of the Premier League’s most misfiring strikers after managing just 5 goals in 62 games across his last two seasons.
This season however he’s already matched that total and actually has 4 goals in his last 5 games – but regardless of that, this record-breaker guarantees he won’t be forgotten any time soon.