England super-sub Alessia Russo revels in ‘naughty’ backheel goal - but don’t expect a repeat

·3-min read
England super-sub Alessia Russo revels in ‘naughty’ backheel goal - but don’t expect a repeat

Alessia Russo doubts she will ever score another goal as special as last night's backheel against Sweden, which wowed the country and drew praise from across the game.

The substitute bagged England's third in their 4-0 European Championship semi-final victory with a stunning feat of skill and imagination.

Facing away from goal and under pressure from two Sweden defenders, Russo backheeled the ball between the legs of Hedvig Lindahl after her initial effort was saved by the goalkeeper.

"Of course [it was one of the best goals I've ever scored], to score in a semi-final and progress to the final is a huge highlight of my career," Russo said. "I don’t normally score backheels and I don’t think you’ll see one again! So I’ll take it for now.

"I missed the first one, we were actually working on cut backs in training the other day. 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.

Alessia Russo celebrates her wonderful finish against Sweden that sparked a meltdown (The FA via Getty Images)
Alessia Russo celebrates her wonderful finish against Sweden that sparked a meltdown (The FA via Getty Images)

"I think when you’re enjoying your football you play your best. Maybe [the goal] does show confidence but I’m just loving playing football."

England boss Sarina Wiegman praised Russo's "courage" and will face further pressure to start the Manchester United forward in Sunday's final against Germany or France at Wembley.

"You must have so much courage to do such an unpredictable and phenomenal thing like that," said Wiegman, who has named the same XI for all five Euros matches, despite Russo scoring four times from the bench.

Arsenal legend Ian Wright doubts Wiegman will make a change for the final but said Russo has done everything possible to earn a start.

"The improvisation is fantastic," Wright said in his role as BBC pundit. "When she came on she instantly made an impact. She links play. I’m not sure what more she needs to do to start. When you look at Ellen White’s contribution over the years you can’t question it. But she hasn’t done enough in this tournament. This girl [Russo] is doing it. I don’t think Wiegman will change it."

Beth Mead, who opened the scoring last night with her sixth goal at the finals, described Russo's goal as "very naughty", while team-mate Chloe Kelly was lost for words.

"On my god, I couldn't believe it," said Kelly. "She's unbelievable and it just sums her up. What a finish."

Russo's finish sent social media into meltdown and women's football royalty were among those to congratulate the 23-year-old.

In Pictures | Women’s Euro 2022 (Semi-Final): England vs Sweden - Lionesses celebrate victory

England’s Ellen White, Hannah Hampton celebrate and teammates celebrate (REUTERS)
England’s Ellen White, Hannah Hampton celebrate and teammates celebrate (REUTERS)
Ella Toone and Rachel Daly of England celebrate (The FA via Getty Images)
Ella Toone and Rachel Daly of England celebrate (The FA via Getty Images)
England’s Beth Mead, left, celebrates after scoring her side’s first goal (AP)
England’s Beth Mead, left, celebrates after scoring her side’s first goal (AP)
England’s midfielder Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring her team fourth goal (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s midfielder Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring her team fourth goal (AFP via Getty Images)
Lucy Bronze of England celebrates scoring their side’s second goal (Getty Images)
Lucy Bronze of England celebrates scoring their side’s second goal (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England scores  a sublime back heel third goal whilst under pressure from Caroline Seger and Jonna Andersson of Sweden (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England scores a sublime back heel third goal whilst under pressure from Caroline Seger and Jonna Andersson of Sweden (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England celebrates scoring their side’s third goal (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England celebrates scoring their side’s third goal (Getty Images)
England’s coach Sarina Wiegman celebrates with England’s midfielder Jill Scott (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s coach Sarina Wiegman celebrates with England’s midfielder Jill Scott (AFP via Getty Images)
England players celebrate in the dressing room after their sides victory (The FA via Getty Images)
England players celebrate in the dressing room after their sides victory (The FA via Getty Images)
England’s Leah Williamson, left, and Ellen White celebrate (AP)
England’s Leah Williamson, left, and Ellen White celebrate (AP)
The England team form a huddle following victory (The FA via Getty Images)
The England team form a huddle following victory (The FA via Getty Images)

Sam Kerr, the Chelsea and Australia striker who scored 20 goals in the Women’s Super League (WSL) last season, tweeted: "Not gonna lie, that was lit from Russo."

World Cup winning USA forward Abbie Wambach tweeted: "I dreamt of scoring a goal like that my whole life. Never happened. @alessiarusso7 take a bow. Go on England."

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