The seven best Di Maria moments at Real Madrid

The 26-year-old winger has left the Santiago Bernabeu for Old Trafford and, as he moves on, we asked fans for their favourite memories of the Argentine in Spain
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

Angel Di Maria is the man of the moment. The Argentine winger has now completed a €75 million move to Manchester United, leaving Real Madrid fans in disappointment as they prepare for life without one of the club's most popular players.

Di Maria moved to Madrid from Benfica in 2010 and made 190 appearances for the Spanish side, scoring 36 goals and assisting 72 in his four years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Many of those were wonderful and we asked on Twitter earlier for fans to tweet their favourite memory of the 26-year-old winger at Real Madrid, using the #DiMariaMoment hashtag. Replies also included the winger's winner for Argentina in the 2008 Olympic final against Nigeria, his extra-time clincher versus Switzerland in the World Cup in Brazil earlier this year and other memories from his time at Benfica, but the final list is restricted to Real. So here are the seven most memorable Di Maria moments from the man who is about to become Manchester United's new No. '7'...


It was his defining moment. When all around him were tiring, Di Maria kept going and his remarkable run down the left-hand side almost resulted in one of the greatest goals in a Champions League final. But Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois kept out the winger's shot, only for Gareth Bale to head home the loose ball at the far post. It was the simplest of finishes, but the goal had been all about the Argentine. Winning La Decima had become an obsession for Madrid and it may never have happened without Di Maria. It will certainly be the long-lasting memory of many madridistas and on Sunday, Xabi Alonso tweeted: "Thanks for everything, 'Fideo'! We will always remember your zig-zag in Lisbon!"


This one was particularly popular with Madrid fans, presumably because it involves the humiliation of a Barcelona legend: Carles Puyol.

Di Maria turned the Catalan defender inside out in the Barca box and forced a fine save out of goalkeeper Jose Pinto before Cristiano Ronaldo turned home the rebound in a 3-1 win which sent Madrid to the Copa del Rey final. Puyol was never the same again. Another favourite was the Argentine's performance in last season's Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu, when he set up two goals for Karim Benzema in a memorable match which Madrid ultimately lost 4-3 to their fericest rivals.


This one was also against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and brought Madrid their first silverware under Jose Mourinho, the coach who signed Di Maria in 2010.

With the deadlock yet to be broken in extra-time, the Argentine whipped a wonderful curling cross into the area with his left foot from deep and Cristiano Ronaldo rose to head home the only goal at Mestalla. Di Maria played mostly on the right for Mourinho, but swapped flanks with Ronaldo with great effect and delivered a glorious ball to win the match - and the trophy - from that position.

"When Di Maria came to Spain, people didn't know why," Mourinho said later in 2011. "Now they know."


If it looks like a dance, that's because it is. The term 'rabona' comes from the Argentine tango dance and is when one foot is placed behind the other - in football, to cross or shoot.

It says much for Di Maria that he has turned his biggest weakness into a major strenth. At Benfica, he scored a goal with a 'rabona'; at Madrid he used the technique often too and although it was not always successful, it was wonderful when it came off. See the first tweet above for an image of this play.


Another Clasico moment - and this one was crucial, too. Madrid were 3-1 down at Camp Nou in the first leg of their Supercopa de Espana tie with Barcelona in August 2012, but Di Maria chased what looked like a lost cause in the closing minutes and forced Victor Valdes into a costly mistake.

The Argentine nicked the ball off the Barca goalkeeper's feet, dribbled past the Catalan and slotted into the empty net to give Madrid a second goal which turned out to be vital as Real won 2-1 at the Bernabeu to take the trophy on away goals. In four years at Real, Di Maria won Liga, Copa (twice), the Champions League, the Uefa Super Cup and the Spanish Supercopa.


Tottenham had been reduced to 10 men early on at the Bernabeu in the quarter-finals of the 2010-11 Champions League and were desperately holding on at 2-0 down to a result that would have given the north London side hope of a comeback in the second leg at White Hart Lane.

But Di Maria put paid to those thoughts as he cut inside the right-hand corner of the box, sidestepped his marker and unleashed an unstoppable diagonal drive with his left foot which sailed past Heurelho Gomes on its way to the top corner. The Bernabeu erupted and Madrid went on to win 4-0, adding another 1-0 victory in London to qualify comfortably for the last four. "It was a fantastic goal," Jose Mourinho said afterwards.


Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed the headlines with a hat-trick as Madrid beat Sevilla 6-2 at the Sanchez Pizjuan in December 2011, but Di Maria was at his breathtaking best too.

The Argentine threaded a beautiful ball through two defenders to set up Ronaldo for the first goal, lofted another precise pass over the Sevilla back line to find Jose Callejon for the second and added one himself later on when he raced away down the left and cut inside to beat the goalkeeper with a low finish. It was an inspired individual performance - one of many at Madrid and one Manchester United fans will be hoping he can replicate regularly at Old Trafford.

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