Luckiest goals of Euro 2021
Now that the Euros have come and gone, we can look back at some of the biggest title games and rejoice as the European nation came together to celebrate football and life. There were plenty of stats that came out of the tournament, here are a few of the best.
- Cristiano Ronaldo, the tournament’s top scorer, became the first player to appear in and score in five consecutive tournaments. He also became the tournament’s all-time leading scorer with 14 goals. Portugal, his side, has a track record of always progressing from their group (eight times). The 2-2 tie against France, which confirmed Portugal’s qualification, was the first time the Les Blues had lost a game in which Benzema had scored (22 previous wins).
- England’s victory over Germany was the team’s first Euros knockout stage victory since 1968, and it came without a penalty shootout. England also made history by becoming the first side to win a group with only two goals. In the group stage, neither they nor Italy made any concessions. Scotland won its only point at the Euros by holding England to a 0-0 stalemate on June 18 (European time); seven of the Scots’ eight points came on that day.
- Denmark became the first team to reach the semifinals after losing the first two group games, only to have their dream run terminated by England. Denmark’s victory over Wales on June 26 was also their first in the knockout phase since defeating Germany in the final of Euro 1992, which took place on the same day. As a result, Denmark reached the semifinals for the first time since 1992, a span of 29 years that is the longest in Euros history.
- With their second Euro victory, Italy now has the longest gap between their first and second titles in the tournament’s history; 53 years. Giorgio Chiellini became the oldest captain to win the Euros at 36 years and 331 days. Italy also set new national records by winning 13 consecutive games and going 32 games without losing. They have now gone 34 games without losing after the final. Federico Chiesa and his father, Enrico, were the first father-son pair to score at the Euros when they scored in the round of 16.
But what about something we don’t usually look at? What about those goals that were just downright lucky? Football is touted as the “beautiful game,” and few things are more enjoyable than seeing a team dissect another in imperious fashion. Unfortunately, however, there are times in football when this pursuit of harmonic, skilled perfection is utterly abandoned as a moment throws the laws of reason into disarray, and the ball ends up in the goalkeeper’s humiliated net.
What constitutes a lucky goal? It isn’t only how the ball finds its way into the net, in my opinion. It can be scoring against the run of play or scoring a fantastically hit shot that wasn’t entirely meant. So let’s have a look at some of the luckiest goals scored in this year’s Euros and what made them lucky.
Spain vs Croatia
Unai Simon’s howler, where a 49-yard back pass went into his own net in Spain’s Euro 2020 last-16 match versus Croatia, will be remembered for a long time. The ensuing eight-goal thriller, which Spain won 5-3 in extra time, would be remembered as one of the great tournament knockout matches. And, much to Simon’s relief, his weird mishap will be but a footnote in a dramatic Copenhagen showdown in which he will be able to atone for his terrible error.
A crisp 10-pass sequence involving seven players resulted in a goal. In addition, the game’s first strike was the second-longest in European Championship history. That’s just too bad it turned out to be an own goal. When Pedri got the ball around the centre circle and elected to punt it back to his keeper (at the age of 18 creating history as the youngest player to start a Euros knockout game) he could not have guessed what would happen next. Simon, a 24-year-old Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper, had the entire pitch to himself when the ball was returned to him. Despite this, he miscalculated his attempted control, barely getting a touch on the ball as it floated past him and into an empty net.
Poland vs Slovakia
Wojciech Szczesny, the goalkeeper for Poland, hasn’t had much luck in his first game at the European Championships. Sent off in 2012, hurt in 2016 and since Euro 2020, there is now an own goal to his name. He couldn’t do much about it, anyway: when the ball deflected off his near post, onto his outstretched arm as he lay on the ground, and back into the net in the 18th minute, Szczesny had already committed himself to a dive in an attempt to stop a shot from Slovakia winger Robert Mak.
England vs Denmark
The penalty awarded to Kane against Denmark was a very contentious decision, with referee Danny Makkelie pointing to the spot after determining that Raheem Sterling had been fouled in the area. VAR reviewed the altercation between Jensen and Sterling, but the ref’s decision was upheld. The original penalty was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, adding to the tournament’s long line of missed penalties, but Kane scored on the rebound.
I included this goal because of a few reasons. Firstly, many believe the penalty shouldn’t have been given in the first place, and secondly, after missing the penalty, Kane was given a second bite at the cherry to score. Because of the magnitude of the goal, I had to include this one.
The beautiful game is full of beautiful moments! We hope you enjoyed these.