Bellingham’s Overhead Kick Saves England in Euro 2024 Cliffhanger

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In a decisive moment of stark genius, Jude Bellingham, the football-midfield prodigy just crossing the important threshold of 21, demonstrated why he’s a player to watch. In the highly anticipated Euro 2024 competition in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Bellingham, on Sunday, performed a legendary overhead kick to ensure England stayed in the game, just when it seemed all hope was extinguished. Owing to his shining valor, paired with Harry Kane’s stunning goal, England defied all odds and charted a 2 – 1 victory, keeping their dreams of clinching a major trophy alive. The nation still hungers for a victory reminiscent of the 1966 glory.

The stakes could not have been higher. England was precariously balanced on the precipice of a knockout that would have resonated as one of European football’s most stunning historical upsets. They were trailing Slovakia 1-0, with the match deep in stoppage time, in the round of 16. Bellingham later reminisced, painting a vivid picture of the moment, “It seemed we were about 20 or 30 seconds away from waving our European Championship dream goodbye.”

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True to form, Bellingham, whose 21st birthday fell on a Saturday, scripted an unforgettable narrative that seamlessly fit into his stunning repertoire. His debut season with Real Madrid had been nothing short of extraordinary. Amidst the glitterati of Spanish football, he clinched prestigious laurels like the Champions League and Spanish title.

England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, places unbridled faith in Bellingham’s prowess, viewing him as the archetypal game-changer. Southgate expressed his awe, lauding Bellingham’s ability to seize the moment even when it seemed fatigue had gotten the better of him. He said, “His world is different from most other 21-year-olds. His character and personality generate moments that can change a high-stakes match.”

England, once viewed as a shoo-in for the championship, found themselves trailing behind the 45th ranked Slovakia, thanks to Ivan Schranz’s goal in the 25th minute. Amidst the mounting tension, Bellingham seized a fleeting opportunity thrown his way. Kyle Walker propelled a long throw from the right, which Marc Guehi expertly directed towards Bellingham. Ingeniously adjusting his position, Bellingham placed a breathtaking overhead kick sending the ball to its home turf: the back of the net. Slovakia’s goalie, Martin Dubravka, was left rooted to the spot, helpless as the spherical marvel whizzed past him.

The crowd’s reaction was thunderous, their exhilaration palpable. England’s first shot on the target could not have come at a better moment. Not long after, Harry Kane soared to score his seventh goal in his past seven knockout games at major tournaments, his 65th overall for the team. England now advances to face Switzerland in an all-important quarterfinal in Duesseldorf on the upcoming Saturday.

For a major part of the match, it seemed like Southgate’s squad was on a path towards ignominy, similar to the unflattering exit at the hands of Iceland at Euro 2016. Southgate, though, pointed out the unpredictability of matches at this level, stating, “It’s knockout football and anything is possible.”

Despite facing criticism for their group stage performance and enduring the crowd’s boos post Schranz’s goal, England remained relentless. After sequences of near misses, Bellingham’s moment came, lending the crucial breakthrough that his team was desperately seeking. Bellingham’s genius averted a potential upset from Slovakia, the underdogs that had earlier ousted Belgium, ranked No.3 in the world.

Reflecting on the match, Slovakia’s crestfallen coach Francesco Calzona observed, “We conceded a goal from a player worth 100 million euros. This was against a team valued at 1.5 billion euros. Half a meter was all it took to bring us down. In this game, you get punished for every slip-up.”