Recent European Championships have obtained a reputation for being goal-shy affairs, often without much in the way of highlight-reel worthy stunners. Arriving a year late has clearly allowed some pent up energy to build as Euro 2020 racks up the goals and a host of stunners to boot. As the tournament reaches the quarter-finals stage we’ve already been treated to outstanding strikes, including a long-range effort that will do down in the annals of football history – unless you’re a Scotland fan.
Let’s start with a man who wouldn’t have been on many people’s radar when it came to planning a Euro 2020 Squad Builder, Andriy Yarmolenko. The Ukraine and West Ham ace cut in from the right before delivering a trademark finish into the top right-hand corner from all of 25-yards.
Next up a goal with huge permutations as Wales reached the knockout phase for a second consecutive tournament thanks in many ways to an Aaron Ramsey delight. Running in behind a motionless Turkish defence, having already spurned numerous chances, the Juventus ace brought down an exquisite Gareth Bale pass before coolly slotting home from inside the area.
If there had been any doubts about whether the players could produce the quality after an arduous domestic campaign, they were put to bed when Turkey met Switzerland on the final matchday in Group A. After Haris Seferovic had opened the scoring with a driving left-footed strike from the edge of the box, Liverpool outcast Xherdan Shaqiri revved up his own left foot and produced two moments of sheer quality – the latter rounding off a sweeping counter-attack.
Despite ending up on the losing side, perhaps the brightest moment from a nightmarish campaign for Turkey came when Irfan Can Kahveci fired home a screamer after manipulating the ball inside with the sole of his foot.
Goals can be judged by many means, but one that can never go unnoticed is the importance of the moment. Fortunately for Andreas Christensen, his piledriver against Russia would be noteworthy regardless of scale. With the emotion of a nation and a full Parken Stadium in Copenhagen hanging on every moment, the centre-back seemed to appear from nowhere as the ball broke loose to fire home from all of 30 yards, sending Denmark through and the crowd wild.
Scotland fans look away now, and later. Another game on a knife-edge settled by a moment of pure genius as a man known for big moments, Luca Modric, produced once again. The Real Madrid man’s sumptuous strike with the outside of the right boot put Croatia back in control and ultimately broke the hearts of the Tartan Army.
Perhaps the shock of the tournament until now came when France were dumped out on penalties against Switzerland at the Round of 16 stage. Despite the disappointing night’s work, Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba found time to provide two memorable moments. The former produced one of the greatest touches ever seen at the Euros before chipping an onrushing Yan Sommer. Just 15 minutes later a dancing Pogba seemed to wrap up the tie with a postage stamp strike that almost took the net camera with it.
Many peoples in-tournament favourites, Italy were forced to go all the way to extra-time in their round-of-16 tie against Austria. With the prospect of penalties on the horizon, Juventus winger Federico Chiesa produced a much-need moment of magic with incredible control before unleashing an unstoppable volley from a tight angle.
Unfortunately, it’s time to look away again. No goal compilation that follows this tournament will be complete without a look at Patrik Schick’s quick thinking effort from inches shy of 50 yards out. Created by a fortunate deflection, Schick was playing in 4D after spotting David Marshall way off his line and sending a pinpoint effort curling over the back-pedalling Scot – creating meme-worthy content in the process.
Honourable mentions should go to certain Cristiano Ronaldo and Kevin de Bruyne efforts, albeit not worthy of ousting any of the above.
As the competition reaches the last eight stage we can look forward to yet more memorable moments, goals, shocks and potentially even an effort worthy of beating Patrik Schick’s procession to Goal of the Tournament.