As Patrik Schick turned to run onto the loose ball in the Scottish half, he knew the chance for something preposterous was on without even looking. That wasn’t because it was any kind of hit and hope. Quite the opposite. The Czech forward had already been checking where David Marshall positioned himself throughout the first half, and realised that an opportunity was eventually going to present itself. By the time the ball was running along for Schick for that sensational goal, Marshall was stood even further forward than before.
Such foresight was one of many elements that even elevated a goal of this quality.
As to how high, the talk from both camps after the game was whether this was one of the greatest goals in the entire history of the European Championship. That was natural from his Czech teammates, and convenient for Scotland since it feels more palatable to lose to something so wondrous, but there was still plenty of truth to it.
For one, at 54 yards, there’s never been a goal in the Euros from as far out. That alone makes it distinctive, and puts it up there with the competition’s true dynasty of strikes. You immediately know the ones we’re talking about.
There was David Trezeguet against Italy, 2000; Karel Poborsky against Portugal, 1996; Maniche against Netherlands, 2004; Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Italy in the same tournament; Mario Balotelli against Germany in 2012; Xherdan Shaqiri against Poland in 2016; Davor Suker against Denmark in 1996 and - above all - Marco van Basten against USSR in 1988.
There is something special about all of these goals beyond their supreme quality. Many of them were ultimate examples of a type of goal.
When you think of a volley, you think of Van Basten. When you think of a chip, you think of Suker. When you think of a scoop, you think of Poborsky. When you think of those very modern acrobatic flicks, you think of Ibrahimovic.
And when you think of goals from the halfway… well, Schick isn’t quite there yet, even if his strike will now become the Euros’ stand-out long-range goal.
This is an extra value to the moment, however, and why it warrants its place in that list - if maybe not near the very top.
With some of these goals from the halfway, there can be an element of “well, he just hit it” to them. That is obviously a little obtuse, but there is some truth. The players generally see an opportunity and get it into an area, with the sheer distance and the trajectory of the ball being the only embellishments.
That was not the case here. There were many more dimensions to it. In a strange way, the freakish distance of the goal almost distracted from what a superb and cool finish it was.
There was first of all that foresight and registering of what Marshall had done. That is some elite application. It obviously isn’t Diego Maradona remembering which way Peter Shilton went for a one-on-one years previously, as was the case in 1986, but a similar principle applied. Schick used an opposition player’s patterns of play against him to do something special. There was then the first-time finish.
That elevated the goal in terms of execution, because it is more difficult to do.
There was finally - maybe above all else - the swerve. Former Scottish international Billy Dodds described it as “like a golf shot you draw down the fairway”. The strong wind at what was a cold Hampden made that all the more impressive, and ensured that was the perfect description. There was a soaring quality to the goal. He didn’t just hit it. He lusciously lofted it.
“The second goal was something out of this world,” manager Jaroslav Silhavy said. Not even in the Euros had seen something like it before. It is why it should enter that pantheon.
“It was a nice goal,” Schick added, with some understatement. He’d already overdone it in one way, after all.
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