How dare he!
That was the first thought that entered my mind watching Pajtim Kasami’s goal Monday and now, 16 hours later, my jaw is still on the ground.
That goal was outlandish. Ridiculous. Audacious. The kind of training ground attempt that would typically result in a shot going high and wide of the target by 50 feet.
But not last night. Last night Kasami executed the maneuver with razor sharp technique and the result – goal of the year (so far) in the Premier League.
What made Kasami’s goal so incredible? Let’s break it down.
First, his vision.
When the play begins Fulham right-back Sascha Riether has the ball in his own half and Kasami is standing in the middle of the center circle. To the casual observer, nothing out of the ordinary seems to be happening – but Kasami sees otherwise.
Mainly, he notices that Darren Bent drifts all the way to the right side of the pitch while Dimitar Berbatov remains in the center and that the Crystal Palace defense are man marking. This means that Adrian Mariappa and Damien Delaney have a 30 yard gap between the two of them.
In a split second, Kasami knows what he wants to do. With the ball at Riether’s foot, Kasami points to the space.
The second astounding element of the goal is Kasami’s run. Like a greyhound he bursts out of the gate and into the space created by the Palace center-backs. In just over four seconds Kasami’s diagonal move puts himself directly under Riether’s 40 yard ball.
Which brings us to part three of Kasami’s feat – the technique.
Still at full throttle, the ball is behind Kasami’s head as Mariappa swoops in to close him down. At this point, merely settling the ball and keeping possession would be impressive. But with his inertia heading towards the corner flag and his hips facing the right touchline, the 21 year old leaps in the air, pops the ball off his chest, squares his shoulders and unleashes a cross body right-footed volley from an impossible angle.
How the ball ends up in the far corner is still perplexing.
The most impressive aspect of the goal, however, is that not a single part of that play can be considered lucky. Everything Kasami did, he meant to do. Scary stuff.
Following the goal there was a lot of chatter as to whether Kasami’s effort was better than Jack Wilshere’s strike against Norwich City on Saturday.
My take – and Wilshere’s as well, judging by his Tweet – Kasami’s goal was easily the better of the two. Mainly because it was the buildup to Wilshere’s goal – a pinball array of back heels and flicks that would leave Barcelona bowing in approval – that left us in a bliss, not the goal itself.
Wilshere’s was the better team goal, Kasami’s was the better individual goal. Apples and oranges but both fantastic pieces of work that we won’t soon be forgetting.