One of the main reasons we watch sports is that every now and then an athlete does something amazing. Every so often an athlete does something so spectacular that we remember where we were watching it, we remember the surrounding circumstances, for a very long time. Well, tonight, Italy's Andrea Pirlo
pulled off one of those stunts.
To set the scene, Italy were facing England in the European Championship quarter finals, and the Italians had attacked all match long but couldn't get passed the massed ranks of English defenders, the latter having decided to adopt distasteful 'park the bus (in front of the goal)' tactics. As first normal time and then extra time fizzled out slowly, England were clearly playing for penalties.
What is it they say, be careful what you wish for?
In the penalty shoot-out England grabbed the early momentum via the unfortunate Montolivio, who slashed his shot wide. Suddenly Italy were staring at the abyss. England scored their next penalty, and if Pirlo, Italy's next penalty taker, had missed, well the Italians were in deep carbonara.
Then Pirlo stepped forward to take his turn, and this happened.
Pirlo's incredibly cheeky penalty can be looked at simply as the artistic touch of an entertainer at heart. However, this column believes Pirlo was actually making a bigger statement. With his decision to go with flair and panache, it was if Pirlo was showing his team-mates not to fear the penalty shoot-out. He was treating it with a measured disdain, but not out of disrespect, instead in an attempt to both crush the hearts of the English, and lift the hearts of his Italians.
Pirlo grabbed the momentum of the shoot-out and his team-mates refused to hand it back to the English. His audacious chip shot quite literally changed the course of the shoot-out, the game and the quarter final.
There is no doubt the 'right
' team progressed on the night.
England offered absolutely nothing to the entertainment value of the match, and this is emphasized dramatically by the shooting statistics, Italy finishing with 36 shots to England's relatively pathetic 9.
There was only one 'just' outcome in this match, and thanks to Andrea Pirlo's fantastically cheeky penalty, justice came out on top on the night.Follow Cormac on Twitter