We’re proud to present the first-ever Non-Goal of the Year award to Liverpool’s Luis Diaz. We’ve covered a wide variety of non-goals for the last several months, from brilliant positional play to incredible displays of movement and timing, but the work of Luis Diaz occupies a completely different category.
If you've watched Diaz in the few months since he's joined Liverpool, you'll have seen the electricity he brings to the field. At any moment, it seems, he's able to conjure first touches that nobody else saw coming, footwork that only he can keep up with, and vision to include teammates at the right moment.
So it shouldn't be a surprise that the Diaz non-goal that we're awarding this year contains all three of these elements in one play--about 4 seconds of non-goal ecstasy during the Carabao Cup Final. This incredibly entertaining 0-0 draw was the first-ever inductee to the Non-Goal Hall of Fame and it's moments like this that made it so special. Take a look below, you'll probably want to watch the video a few times to take it all in:
Three elements make this so spectacular:
As the pass travels toward Diaz down the line he understands he'll be under pressure from Chelsea's Reece James. A safer player might play a quick return ball back where it came from or hold and shield for a moment while he finds an option. But not Diaz.
Diaz knows that the pressure being applied by James will actually be his escape route. If he can just flick the ball up and over James, which he does marvelously, he'll use James' own momentum against him in one of the best Judo moves you'll see on a soccer field. As he uses his back foot to skillfully flip the ball up into the air he also gives it just the right front-spin to keep the ball traveling in the same direction toward Chelsea's goal. Diaz does a quick swim move to get his body past James' while the ball arcs over the defender's shoulder. Now James is beat and this requires defender Trevoh Chalobah to slide over and cover for him. As soon as this happens Diaz knows what his next move will be.
Leaving James behind him, Diaz keeps his head up and has the play in front of him. He sees Chalobah attempt to close him down and at the same time he sees his teammate Sadio Mane run into free space down the line. Knowing that he wants to get the ball to Mane but wanting to make sure Mane has as much space as possible, he freezes Chalobah with a quick look to the middle of the field. Diaz holds this look to his right as he passes the ball to his left, ensuring Chalobah won't be able to get a foot on his pass to Mane.
Eventually Liverpool's attack fizzles but the non-goal has been achieved. This play epitomizes what we love about non-goals: the ingenious creativity moving from Diaz's brain to his feet in microseconds, the skilled craftsmanship honed over decades of work, and the vision required to make those 4 seconds so delightful are what we love to celebrate. And this was just one of several Diaz created in this game alone, which was full of non-goals. These moments aren't recorded in the score sheet and they likely won't make the highlight reel, but they're what make soccer such a rich and enduring spectacle. Congratulations Luis Diaz, on winning the first-ever Non-Goal of the Year for 2022 and thank you for making 2021-2022 such a wonderful season.