Sunday 25 August 2019, 07:00

Cunha’s double dose of trickery

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"We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw what he did out there – but the lad is Brazilian, after all…"

These were the words coach Ralf Rangnick used to describe the moment Matheus Cunha found the target in the 83rd minute of RB Leipzig’s Bundesliga match against Bayer Leverkusen on 6 April 2019. The strike, which sealed a 4-2 win for Die Roten Bullen, was a work of art truly deserving of the phrase ‘world class’, as Cunha pulled off two tricks in quick succession.

The technically-adept South American made the most of a through-ball from team-mate Timo Werner with a piece of skill reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane, letting the ball roll under his foot before spinning away from his compatriot and opponent Wendell. He then chipped the ball perfectly over Bayer goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.

"He does that kind of thing more often in training," his team-mate Konrad Laimer said with a wink after the game.

"I learned the trick as a young boy on the beach in Brazil," the 20-year-old later revealed. "That’s where we always used to play football. It’s much more difficult there too, because the ground is so uneven. Here all the pitches are great, so that makes it much easier," he laughed. Cunha grew up in Joao Pessoa, north of Recife, and arrived in Leipzig from FC Sion in the summer of 2018 for €15 million.

The German Football Association (DFB) describes his trick in detail on its website, explaining: "Turn while dribbling and place the sole of your dribbling foot on the ball. At this point you are facing away from the direction of play. Now, push the ball in the direction of the dribble with the sole of the other foot and turn your body with it. There is a brief moment during this turn when neither of your feet are on the ground."

Ronaldinho and Zinédine Zidane shake hands

Yet Cunha took his inspiration from a completely different superstar. "Zidane? I always saw Ronaldinho do the trick." The Brazilian legend’s brother, Roberto Assis, is a good friend of Cunha’s who looked out for him during his time in Switzerland.

"What a goal from my friend Matheus Cunha," the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of the memorable moment. "Thank you my friend! You will always be my biggest idol," the young centre forward answered.

The 20-year-old’s entire family watched the goal on television at home. "My father Carmelo really couldn’t believe that his son had scored a goal like that, and my mama Lusiana cried tears of joy – but they were all very proud."

Cast your vote

Does this goal have what it takes to win the FIFA Puskás Award for 2019? Should Cunha collect the trophy at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ in Milan on 23 September? Register for the Club and vote NOW!