Alessia Russo on 'THAT' goal against Sweden
It was a moment which transcended into the mainstream consciousness. People who had never even watched women’s football before or heard the name are this morning asking: ‘Did you see that goal from Alessia Russo?’
England were already 2-0 up against Sweden last night when the ball was cut-back to the striker and with only 22 minutes of the match remaining, it was a goal which probably didn’t decide qualification for Sunday’s UEFA Women’s EUROs Final at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.
But the subsequent finish did produce one of – if not the – moment of the tournament so far.
By her own admission, Russo should have scored the first time of asking. And if she had, we would be talking about England’s third goal for a totally different reason, as the patient build-up play was arguably as good as we have seen from the Lionesses this tournament.
Lauren Hemp, Rachel Daly, Leah Williamson, Kiera Walsh and Fran Kirby had all been involved in the period of possession before Walsh produced a trademark turn and slide-rule pass to find the run of Kirby into the box, with her pull-back straight into the path of Russo, ready to finish off a 13-pass move which what would have been one of the goals of the tournament.
It wasn’t to be though, as the striker’s shot from eight yards out was straight at Hedvig Lindahl. But what was to follow, was a moment of pure genius.
With the ball rolling away from goal, Russo latched on to the follow-up and with defenders to the left and right of her, the 23-year-old attempted an audacious back-heel which beat not only Jonna Andersson but also went through the legs of Lindahl.
How many times are we all watching this tonight? 🤯pic.twitter.com/Z5UHyBbb8Z— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 26, 2022
“O Wow…Alessia Russo, what was that?” was the immediate response from BBC commentator Robyn Cowen. It was a question posed by all 28,624 fans inside Bramall Lane and the millions watching at home.
So we put that question to Russo after the match. What was she thinking?
“I missed the first one and we were actually working on cut-backs in training the other day!” came the immediate response.
“Once it fell back to me, I thought ‘what’s the quickest route for me to get this ball in the back of the net?’ because I should have scored in the first place, so I just swung a foot at it and luckily it hit the back of the net.”
Fair to say, she downplayed the talent involved with scoring such a superb goal.
Russo added: "I could have made it a lot easier for myself if I’d just scored the first one.
"It fell nicely, I don’t really remember too much about it, I just thought it was the quickest route to get it in the back of the net without having to turn. And I was fortunate enough it went in.
"I didn’t really see it go in, so I don’t know how it went in, but I just celebrated and I enjoyed the moment."
England 4-0 Sweden | Highlights
Lionesses are through to the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 final
It was a moment of brilliance which could only be produced by a player full of confidence.
And with Russo currently second in the tournament’s goalscorers charts with four goals, despite not starting in any of the matches so far, it is clear to see why.
Russo said: “I’m loving it so that helps with confidence. I think when you’re enjoying your football you play your best. Maybe it does show confidence but I’m just loving playing football.”
The reaction to Russo’s goal during and after the match was incredible.
USA legend Abby Wambach, one of the most iconic players to ever play the game, tweeted:
I dreamt of scoring a goal like that my whole life. Never happened. @alessiarusso7 take a bow. Go on England.— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) July 26, 2022
Chelsea star Sam Kerr, one of the best strikers in world, and former England forward Lianne Sanderson were among those to react on social media.
Not gonna lie, that was lit from Russo— Sam Kerr (@samkerr1) July 26, 2022
Wow wow wow @alessiarusso7 that was one of those ones, that we can say we were there. What a goal, wow 🔥 I was on my 🦶 in Comms. Do people fully understand this goal. I’ve watched it 20 times already. #Eng #Lionesses #Russo— Lianne Sanderson (@liannesanderson) July 27, 2022
It was highlighted to Russo that Kerr and many others had tweeted about her finish and the striker was asked if it was one of the best goals of her career.
Russo replied: “I think so. Yeah of course. To score in a semi-final and progress to the final is a huge highlight of my career. I don’t normally score back heels and I don’t think you’ll see one again. I’ll take it for now.”
Russo and the rest of the Lionesses stars pride themselves on being humble and the striker was quick to highlight the crucial role played by the defence and Manchester United team-mate Mary Earps in helping England stay both level initially and then in front, with the goalkeeper producing a number of fine saves.
She also highlighted the important role played by Ellen White, who is in the starting line-up ahead of Russo at present.
England’s record goalscorer is constantly looking to run in behind the defence, something you get a true appreciation of when sitting in the stands, and relentlessly presses the opposition when in possession.
On relishing the prospect of coming on against tired legs, Russo added: “Yeah, I think if that’s the role, I’ll take it for sure. Ellen does a great job at wearing everyone out, as does the whole team.
“We’re up there in terms of physicality right now. Whenever the chance [to play] is there, I’ll take it.”
Russo’s form has inevitably led to the phrase ‘super sub’ being used and she added: “Haha, I mean I’ll take any time I get to play for England. It’s been amazing and I’m loving playing for the Lionesses and everyone else [in the crowd and at home].”
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