Sweden recorded a sensational last-minute victory over England on Wednesday night thanks to a jaw-dropping overhead kick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a goal so astonishing that everyone present immediately agreed it should be worth four goals.
Until Ibrahimovic’s late intervention, Roy Hodgson’s men had been cruising to a comfortable victory. Joe Hart, the picture of quiet self-assurance, had been totally untroubled between the posts, and Steven Caulker’s 38th-minute goal had put England 2-0 up, his debut strike counting double like all away goals always do.
But in the fourth minute of stoppage time, the previously subdued Ibrahimovic turned the match on its head with his improbable piece of skill, giving the referee no option but to signal four goals, which comfortably won the match for Sweden.
This is how football works now - do not question it
“I’ve got no complaints,” Hodgson told FourFourTwo after the game. “As soon as he hit it, I knew the game was over. As everyone knows, the fact that it was from 40 yards counts for 1.5 goals, the fact it was an overhead kick counts for 1.7, and the fact he did it in stoppage time is worth a bonus 0.6.
“He loses 0.2 for the tattoo, in my books, but I certainly can’t blame the ref for rounding it up to an even four.”
It was sweet revenge for Sweden, who were eliminated from Euro 2012 by England after Theo Walcott’s thunderous volley was controversially declared to be worth 1.5 goals.
But England too have suffered their share of goal-revaluing bad luck. They failed to reach Euro 2008 by the narrowest of margins after a Darren Bent tap-in against Croatia was only considered four-fifths of a goal.
And four years later at Euro 2012, England were eliminated on penalties by Italy, despite being ahead in the shootout, after referee Pedro Proenca decided that Andrea Pirlo’s masterly dink deserved to win the match all by itself.