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20 years ago today, Rivaldo scored what may well be the greatest hat-trick in football history at the Nou Camp.
The hosts won 3-2 in a thrilling contest in front of 85,000 fans and it was Rivaldo who stole the show. The Brazilian maestro dropped a complete and utter masterclass, delivering a collection of goals that still live long in the memory.
His first, in the third minute, was a gloriously whipped 30-yard free-kick that went in off the post before he hit a low driven effort from similar range on the stroke of half-time, putting Barca back ahead following Ruben Baraja's equaliser.
20 years ago today, Rivaldo scored arguably the greatest hat-trick in La Liga history.pic.twitter.com/ppLbBZgAkz- The Blizzard (@blzzrd) June 17, 2021
:rewind: 20 years ago today Rivaldo scored one of the most breathtaking hat-tricks in football history to snatch @FCBarcelona a 3-2 win over Valencia and a @ChampionsLeague place at their opponents' expense :blue_heart::heart:#ThrowbackThursday ' @RIVALDOOFICIAL pic.twitter.com/XfYaT78caF- FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) June 17, 2021
Baraja levelled matters again immediately after the restart and so Rivaldo had to come up with something even more spectacular.
He rose to the occasion. In the 88th minute, the Ballon d'Or winner received the ball on his chest from a Frank De Boer lofted pass.
In one swift motion, Rivaldo produced the most outrageous bicycle kick from outside the box - his acrobatic effort beating goalkeeper Santiago Canizares for the third time.
As the Blaugrana faithful were sent into raptures, Rivaldo rapidly removed his shirt in celebration - having just completed a truly unbelievable hat-trick.
"In the moment that De Boer passed the ball, I was aware that I was a good distance away from the goal, so I knew that when I struck the ball it would have to be very hard," Rivaldo reflected on the spectacular third goal in an interview with The Independent.
"And, as soon as I touched the ball to control it, I knew that the shot was going to be nice and on target."
While technically it wasn't a "perfect" hat-trick because all three goals were scored with that wand of a left foot, this was an absurd trio of strikes in a crunch clash.
"It is a day that I will never forget," Rivaldo continued.
"We needed to beat Valencia to qualify for the Champions League and so it became even more special for that reason.
"I had other great matches and scored some important goals - like in the World Cups - but this was a special game. Not only for my overhead kick, but also because of the repercussions it had around the world."
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