Thursday, November 02, 2006
Kings of the Angles
It requires precision, not to mention a certain healthy arrogance, to go for goal from a position on the by-line, when the cut-back is the obvious option. When it doesn't come off, the player in question is sometimes accused of selfishness. But when it works, it's often spectacular.
You could argue that it was karma for Chelsea. A few years ago in the Premiership, they suffered a painful home loss to Arsenal, thanks to a sensational late hat-trick from Nwankwo Kanu (now, happily, finding his best form again), the final goal of which was another narrow-angle special.
Kanu managed to draw the Chelsea 'keeper out of goal in reaching the by-line, and then sent a seemingly impossible shot beyond two defenders and into the far corner. I will never forget Martin Tyler's cry of amazement from the commentary box, followed by an elongated "Can...you..beLIEVE..it!!".
My favourite narrow-angle goal was scored in a World Cup final. It was a wonderful strike, and the player in question had brilliantly beaten two defenders in the lead-up; yet, perhaps because it was scored by one of the World Cup's "footnote" players, it is hardly ever featured on any "Best World Cup Goals" list.
The setting: Santiago, 1962. The unfancied Czechs have just taken the lead against defending champions Brazil in the final. Brazil are without Pelé, injured in the first round. Enter a certain Amarildo.
Apparently trapped by the left corner-flag, he beat two defenders with a sudden, mischievous swerve. Now clear on goal, yet still hugging the by-line, he was faced by the Czech 'keeper, Schroiff, who was dutifully guarding his near post.
Not closely enough, though. Amarildo sent in a glorious low shot that threaded the needle between Schroiff and the post.
1-1, and Brazil recovered their momentum to eventually run out 3-1 winners.
For my money, it remains probably the second-best goal ever scored in a World Cup final, just behind Pelé's marvellously cheeky "chapeu" goal of four years earlier.
Interesting you mention that Nigerian striker. If you want to stump friends with a bit of footy trivia, ask them to name a player who has won league titles in two countries, FA Cup, Uefa Cup, Champions League and has also been in a relegated club.