Firstly, none of this is designed to dilute what was a wonderful goal from Eden Hazard and a fantastic strike, but have a look at Asmir Begovic’s feet during the replay.
Goalkeepers are all taught that, before making a diving attempt at a save, they need to take little steps towards the ball – it makes sense too, because that’s a far more effective way of extending their reach to a shot. Begovic doesn’t do that, and that’s ultimately why Hazard’s effort beats him.
In front of the keeper, Robert Huth makes a lunging attempt to block the shot with his head, which slightly mitigates the error, but even so; it’s Begovic’s failure to move before diving which causes him to concede.
Whenever you see a goalkeeper getting beaten consistently from distance – and I’m not saying that that’s necessarily true of Begovic – it’s usually because of a flaw with his footwork. Former England keeper Paul Robinson was guilty of that, and if you look back on some of the goals he conceded from outside the box, you’ll notice how poor he is at moving towards the ball before diving. His reflexes were fantastic, and his shot-stopping was as good as there was in the country, but that little detail made him vulnerable from outside the box. Think about the goal Ivan Campo scored against him, or Claude Makelele’s rasping half-volley at White Hart Lane – both very good examples of how such a deficiency can limit a goalkeeper.
Again, Hazard struck the ball so well yesterday that he probably deserved to score, but it’s an interesting – if slightly irrelevant – detail, and something to look out for.