Saving goals and scoring too

Asmir Begovic, the Stoke City goalkeeper, found the net with a freak wind-assisted long punt downfield which took a huge first bounce over Southampton counterpart Artur Boruc.

Stoke’s Asmir Begovic is almost certain to appear in numerous football quizzes down the years after joining an elite group of goal-scoring English Premier League goalkeepers recently.

The Bosnia international found the net with a freak wind-assisted long punt downfield which took a huge first bounce over Southampton counterpart Artur Boruc.

What made it even more special was that the goal came after just 13 seconds with his first touch of the match, in contrast to the more ‘usual’ last-gasp equalisers which occur when goalkeepers are sent up for a corner in the closing stages of a game. “I definitely meant it,” joked Begovic after becoming only the fifth goalkeeper to score in the EPL after Peter Schmeichel, Paul Robinson, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard.

“It was nice. I’ve never scored a goal so I’ll take it. I’ve never come close as I’ve never been allowed up for corners but it happened to go in. I didn’t think it was going in at all and when it went in I thought ‘What?’. It was a little bit surreal but the ball got caught in the wind and carried a distance. I’m in pretty good company so I’ll take it as it helped us get a point.”

It would have been even more special if it had remained the only goal of the game but, despite being handed such a fortuitous start, Stoke were pegged back by Jay Rodriguez’s header just before half-time as the match finished 1-1.

“It was a shame we couldn’t carry it on and get a second goal and really get on the front foot,” added Begovic.

“But Southampton have been on a great run and are full of confidence so we knew it would be tough. We had to graft out a result but we’ll take the point and take the positives out the game.”

Begovic did, however, joke he was happy to pass on scoring tips to any team-mates struggling to find the net. “There wasn’t so much banter (from my team-mates). Anyway, I’m joint top-scorer now so it’s working pretty well in my favour at the moment. If they want any pointers they know where I am and I’ll pass it on to them.”

Begovic also had some sympathy for Boruc, who was on his penalty spot when the ball was launched from inside Stoke’s area but suddenly found himself in trouble when centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Morgan Schneiderlin allowed it to bounce just outside their own box.

“It is a terrible feeling to be on the end of one of those but that’s football,” he said. “One bad bounce for a goalkeeper makes you look silly.”

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has seen a lot in football during his career as a player and now a manager, but even he conceded he had never seen anything similar.

“It was a fortunate goal, quite bizarre really, and we were grateful for it,” said Hughes.

“I think he just wanted to get his foot through it. You could tell as soon as the two centre-halves made the decision to let it bounce the goalkeeper was going to be in trouble because it took a hop, skip and a jump and he was never going to get anywhere near it.

“I don't think I’ve ever seen a goalkeeper do that, which was great for us. We wanted to get on the score-sheet first because it is common knowledge if you score first in the Premier League statistically you have a better opportunity of winning games. We weren’t expecting our goalkeeper to do it for us but give him credit it was a great strike and he is very pleased with it. He is looking to score a few more he tells me.”

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