On the surface football and chess have little in common.
One consists of 22 moving parts while the other is played between 32 static pieces.
But every so often the lines blur.
Take Man United’s third goal against Barcelona on 25 November 1998 for example.
A finer piece of footballing chess you’re never going to see.
So sit back, make yourself a cuppa and enjoy.
Step 1: Outnumbered
If this was a game of chess then Barcelona would be moving in for the checkmate.
As soon as Roy Keane rolled the ball into Dwight Yorke the six Barcelona defenders surrounding him smelled blood.
A bounce pass back to Keane was shielded out, so Yorke’s only option seemed to be hold the ball up and wait for the incoming freight train of a tackle.
Step 2: Open Sesame
But wait, what’s this?
Sometimes the best things in life are the most simple.
Yorke lets the ball run between his legs and instantly takes the Barcelona defender, who only milliseconds earlier was dreaming about the mother of all tackles, out of the picture.
Step 3: Six becomes four
In a flash, like a pack of hyenas, Andy Cole and Yorke go for the kill.
Cole gives the ball straight back to Yorke, who’s run off his man to turn a six on two into a five on two.
With one touch he then reduces another Barcelona to a statue more suited to La Ramble than the Nou Camp. Four on two.
Step 4: The moment of truth
This is where you need ice running through your veins.
Cole, with 90,000 fans either willing him to miss or begging him to score, has to compose himself when everyone around him has lost their head.
With one touch he takes himself closer to glory.
Ruud Hesp to beat.
Time to complete the best chess move in the history of football.
Six on four turned into one on one. A stroke of the right foot and the ball was in the back of the net. Checkmate.
Philippe Coutinho or Henrikh Mkhitaryan? Why not both?
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