A common response to an own goal, both in theory and in the moment, is to feel sympathy for the scorer.
After all, they point setting out to put the ball into their own net, and there’s always a chance it costs their team a goal (or, sometimes, all three).
However, this becomes very difficult when the goal in question is – as well as being unfortunate – objectively hilarious.
Don’t feel bad for laughing, though.
The 2012/13 season, as we’re sure you remember, was the season of Gareth Bale. As the campaign went on, his knack for scoring clutch goals only grew, with sensational late winners against West Ham, Lyon and Southampton to name but three.
His best goal, though, came earlier in the season, and it’s one which he wouldn’t be able to replicate even if he tried a hundred times.
In November 2012, after Aaron Lennon and then Bale himself had given André Villas-Boas’ team a 2-0 lead over Liverpool going into the half-time break, but things didn’t go quite so well in the second period.
The two goalscorers combined once more, though not in the way they would have wanted, with Lennon clearing Steven Gerrard’s goalbound header off the line… straight into the face of his unfortunate teammate and into the back of the net.
There is an argument that football has become too serious in the last few years, so it’s always important to have the little things on which everyone can agree.
Things like ‘man gets hit in the face with a football’ is always funny, regardless of your club affiliations. It’s up there with ‘man falls to ground clutching groin’ and ‘man falls over while attempting a rabona’ – even the most joyless will be able to laugh.
As an added bonus, you can watch this clip over and over with your own choice of background music or sound effects. Want to sync the ball hitting Bale’s face with the beat from Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough? Be our guest. Prefer to lay it over the effects from an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon? That ought to work just as well.
It’s the kind of physical comedy we don’t see enough of these days, and you can laugh at it completely guilt free.
When you witness a goal like this, it can be tempting to speculate about what was going through the player’s head at the time.
This one’s pretty easy – the answer is ‘a football, a football is going through his head, thanks for asking.’.
There’s a split-second where you might picture Lennon scratching his head, though, as if to say “Wait? Where did the ball go? And why is there a Welshman lying prone on the ground in front of me? Oooooooh, that’s why.”.
If you were in Bale’s spot you’d just stay lying down, wouldn’t you? Not a lot to be gained from springing back up to your feet and getting on with things and, besides, you’re probably going to feel a little dizzy.
How many times are you going to have the opportunity to rest up for a bit, 20 minutes before the end of a match, without anyone questioning your priorities or dragging you back to your feet?
We’re not saying Bale scored the own goal on purpose, mostly because such a thing would be literally impossible, but he did at least have the smarts to recognise the situation for what it was and give himself a time-out.
The worst thing about it all, of course, is that Bale failed to take revenge in the reverse fixture, playing 90 minutes at Anfield in a 3-2 defeat, and was only fit enough to play 30 minutes of Real Madrid’s two Champions League group stage meetings with Liverpool in 2014.
If only there was another opportunity for the Spanish club’s record signing to get some delayed revenge on the Reds; perhaps in a manner that left him on the ground afterwards, as if to provide some degree of symmetry to the situation.
What’s that? He did what? In the Champions League final? Yeah, I suppose he’ll remember that one pretty well.
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