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Five goals from Radamel Falcao reignite forward debate

Dec 9, 2012, 4:16 PM EDT

El Tigre was the final piece of the jigsaw in United's record-breaking shopping spree. Reuters

Radamael Falcao was a monster today at the Vicente Calderon. Five shots, five goals from the Atleti striker as Atlético downed visiting Deportivo La Coruña, 6-0, temporarily moving within three points of first place Barcelona.

It was a performance as ridiculous in its efficiency as its spectacle. The first goal was textbook – one touch then a blast far post. The second, probably his best of the day, left almost no chance to be stopped despite a sharp angle from the left. The third was from the spot, the fourth was in the air, while the fifth was all him, chasing down a long ball near the byline before patiently working back into the field until a chance for number five opened near post.

It’s the latest argument in a debate we addressed earlier this season, a three-man race in which two men have shown up. November belonged to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, four-assist games and legendary goals underscoring his goal-per-game rate for Paris Saint-Germain. Even yesterday – a quiet day, by his standards – “Ibra” pocketed a goal and an assist, raising his all-competition totals to 16 and eight on the year. If we’re talking about all-around forwards – players that can facilitate, orchestrate, and finish attacks – nobody beats Ibrahimovic.

But if we’re talking about the more narrowly defined world of number nines, Falcao has no peer. After today’s onslaught, he’s up to 16 goals in 14 games. Since moving to Europe three years ago, Falcao has 127 all-competition goals in 151 appearances. They’re the type of numbers you’re used to seeing on the Wiki pages of players whose careers were played in black and white.

And the scary thing is the pure efficiency of it all. Check out Sunday’s goals and pick out your favorite. The first will be underrated.

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