As ever in football, the capacity for players to express themselves, either individually or as part of the unit that is a team, is ever present in a clutch of great goals scored. The following compilation features those EURO 2012 moments that left us applauding quality in a goal.
Ibrahimovic v France
He just had to leave his customary memento on these Euro Championships. That is not to say his all-round play deserves any less of a mention, so instrumental, central, and exemplary it was to Sweden’s cause. No, it is that for three successive Euro Championships, the Swedish wizard has had fans scrabbling to pick their jaws off the floor, his sensational goals leaving us gaping like gobies.
In 2004, he did this:
In 2008, he hammered this in:
... and in 2012? Well, let’s say he saved the best for the last. The ball never touches the ground; the wonderment is in its execution. Launching himself airborne, he connects with the ball waist-high, executing a scissor-kick, worthy of a martial artist (irony?). The technique, the instinct, the audacity, and the unmistakeable swag* - they are all Zlatan.
Balotelli v Ireland
In typical Balotelli fashion, he attempted to temper his brilliance with characteristic unpredictability. Thankfully a hand, Bonucci’s, clasped over the mouth was enough - “I put my hand in front because Mario is instinctive and that’s also his strength”. The goal in question showcases Mario’s ‘strength’, him at his instinctive best.
Having peppered Shay Given’s goal all of the second half, Italy get a corner kick in injury time. Mario, off balance and jostling with a defender, connects with the ball while falling, rocketing it past Given. If instinct defies reason, in Balotelli’s case, instinct is the reason.
Welbeck v Sweden
After inspiring a stirring comeback for the Three Lions, Theo Walcott was quizzed about his integral role, notching a goal and an assist. His strike, from 20 yards, was not too shabby, his assist for Danny Welbeck’s goal equally delicious. Ah, Welbeck’s goal.
Theo, unassuming as ever, was happier to laud his teammate, even going as far as to liken him to Arsenal legend, Dennis Bergkamp. A notch too far perhaps, but such was the delightful goal Welbz, as he is fondly called, notched that we should excuse Theo’s employment of hyperbole; it was a goal of cheek and audacity, and would certainly fit in Dennis’ catalogue. It’s so unexpected it looks accidental but after the game, he says he’s practised that sort of finish and receives corroboration of his teammates – legally speaking, with no countering evidence let’s give him the benefit of very little doubt.
Ronaldo v Holland
Checking inside to leave the Van der Wiel sprawled on his backside, Ronaldo steadies himself before planting a near post-finish past Stekelenburg, the 12 seconds that preceded the ball hitting the net were counter-attacking football at its finest.
When Ronaldo dishes off a one-time pass to Joao Moutinho inside his half, there’s one thing on his mind – sprint. It takes all of 8 touches for the ball to travel from Pepe to it rippling the Dutch net.
For all the individual recognition Ronaldo received post-game, he really does need his teammates (the passing)...as they need him (the lung bursting run is almost trademark Ronaldo). The beauty of this goal is in the synergy between the team and the individual culminating in one of the goals of the tournament.
Khedira v Greece
The peculiarity of Sami Khedira is in how unusually he translates his widely held role as a defensive midfielder. It is rather restrictive, almost belittling of his talents. For one, Sami Khedira ordinarily does not play the role of deep-lying destroyer, the archetypal defensive midfielder. Rather, a box to box midfielder is what he is, getting up and down the pitch and occasionally popping up with the odd goal.
In fact, if a myth ever needed debunking, take this as evidence – he completed no successful tackles in his first two games at this tournament. Rather, he is often found higher up the pitch, making unannounced bursts which seek to unbalance the opposition.
It is on one of these forays that he scores one of the goals of the tournament, ghosting into the box to restore Germany’s lead in their quarter-final against Greece. The conviction with which he connects with the ball lends an air of ease of execution...which it really is not.. emphatic yet simple, the goal was Germany’s display in a microcosm.
Kuba v Russia - Poland scored 2 goals at the Euros; Kuba set one up before blasting the other in from the corner of the box.
Pavlyuchenko v Czech Republic - howitzer of a shot, Cech can do nothing about it.
Pirlo v Croatia – the first free-kick at the Euros since 2004; a special goal from a special player.
Carroll v Sweden – when the perfect cross meets the perfect head, lumping the ball does not seem quite so unattractive...only for that moment.
Pirlo v England (penalty shootout) – to convey such a powerful message in the most daintily hit of shots, it is a unique gift. ‘Pirlo’ was still trending on twitter when we woke up in the morning.