Every wonder goal that has rippled the net during the coronavirus pandemic has been tinged with a slight sadness.
No matter how good the goal, each celebration without supporters has left us feeling a little empty inside.
This lack of fulfilment has never been more pronounced than when Manuel Lanzini’s thunderstrike flew past Hugo Lloris on Sunday evening. Sure, the goal itself was truly remarkable, a rare instance of when the cliche ‘he could not have hit that any better’ actually rang true.
However, after that initial endorphins buzz had slipped away, we could not stop ourselves dreaming of an alternative reality where the Argentine had smashed home in front of a packed away end at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Let’s us give you some context…
After just 45 seconds Spurs took the lead against the Hammers. 15 minutes – and a Harry Kane masterclass – later, it was 3-0. Cue thousands of ‘hilarious’ tweets, including:
In defence of these tweeters, things did seem like a foregone conclusion after that third goal went in. Even with ten minutes left to play, a Hammers comeback looked about as likely as Gareth Bale missing an extremely easy chance to win the game on his Spurs debut. In the end, both of these things ended up happening.
First, Fabian Balbuena headed past Hugo Lloris at the back post. Davinson Sanchez then scored a calamitous own goal to make it 3-2, before Bale fluffed his lines – surrendering the opportunity to put the game to bed with a feeble finish.
Boy oh boy, would Spurs be made to rue that missed chance as well.
With 93:30 on the clock with four minutes added, Aaron Cresswell swung in a free kick from the left-hand side. From a sea of bodies a heroic Kane emerged, powerfully clearing his team’s lines as he had several times previously.
Following Kane’s clearance, Harry Winks tried to help it along its way, nipping in front of Robert Snodgrass and poking the ball along. It looked innocuous enough, but this would prove to be a fatal error. Waiting at the end of the ball’s path was a coiled spring – embittered from season after season of injury heartbreak – waiting to release some serious big-goal energy.
Without so much as breaking stride, Lanzini latched onto the ball’s trajectory and put his laces through it like he was taught as a boy growing up in Ituzaingo, Argentina.
Straight away, you could see it was a good hit. Referee Paul Tierney can tell you; he had to pirouette away in order to avoid taking the ball square in face.
Just how good it was become clear when the ball kissed Lloris’ gloves, caressed the post and then tickled the crossbar, before dropping emphatically into the back of the net.
Needless to say, pandemonium ensued. Lanzini immediately stripped off before getting consumed by a Hammers doggy pile. It was truly magnificent. Glorious footballing escapism at its most pure and beautiful.
The only thing that might have made it better? A 45-year-old, 21-stone east ender slipping past the line of stewards in front of a packed away end and joining in with the celebrations.
Soon, lads. Soon.
Until then, just watch this goal on repeat. It’s the perfect tonic to all of life’s ailments.