Andy Carroll v Sweden 2012
We all love an extravagant goal. Seeing a player dribble through the entire opposition defence before finishing, an absolute rocket from range or a delightful volley can all be a feast for the eyes.
Sometimes though, simplicity is sublime. Something that seems ordinary can often be the most devastatingly effective option. That was the case for Andy Carroll’s opener during England’s 3-2 win against Sweden in 2012.
Steven Gerrard played a ball forward from deep towards the big man, who got between Andreas Granqvist and Olof Mellberg, before sending a header into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. He ran off in celebration, sliding on his knees and shouting “fucking get in”, the sort of phrase that will have been echoing across the country.
There was something incredibly satisfying about seeing a pinpoint pass from the man wearing the captain’s armband. To top it off, Carroll looked simply untouchable as he leapt between the Swedish defenders. Seeing every one of his neck muscles being used to generate the power needed to score a header from so far out only added to this.
Direct play, or route one football, is often mocked in the modern day, as people want to see football played the right way. However, when utilised purposefully, rather than aimless hope, it possesses a beauty of its own; this goal is the perfect evidence of that.
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