There are some who thought that Danny Welbeck’s deft touch to score the winner on Friday was a fluke: a happy accident, a supreme piece of luck attached to England taking the lead and eventually winning their group game 3-2 against Sweden.
Perhaps if it had been Ronaldo, Messi, or any other superstar that scored the goal, pundits and fans would be revelling in the aftermath of an audacious little flick that betrayed the nervousness of the situation and displayed the kind of confidence that England have been playing without in recent tournaments.
…a delicate backheel…
So, did he mean it? Of course he did. Back towards goal with very little to aim at, Welbeck rather ingeniously spun on the spot, applying a delicate backheel to finish of Walcott’s driven cross. Control might have been possible in that situation, but in doing so he could have given the goalkeeper enough time to react and smother the ball. With his Bergkamp-esque finish, Welbeck gave Andreas Isaksson little time to react, leaving him sprawling on the turf and England celebrating wildly.
It was a goal that created a little piece of history, the first time in 43 years that England had beaten Sweden in a competitive match (and Lord knows we’ve come up against them in major tournament very often in the last ten years). It put England on the verge of qualification for the quarter-finals, easing some of the pressure for the Ukraine match on Tuesday. More importantly it was a sign of the future; Welbeck leading the line, his second goal adding towards his sumptuous chip against Belgium two weeks ago. It looks as if he’s playing without fear which bodes well for England’s future both near, and far.