Mauro Icardi’s Arsenal-esque penalty blunder was shockingly bad - but at least it wasn’t boring
Mauro Icardi has made headlines for a disastrous penalty routine in Galatasaray’s 1-0 win over Istanbulspor on Tuesday.
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It was the Spanish-American philosopher-poet George Santayana who first made the famed observation that ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’. Evidently, Mauro Icardi is not a great scholar of early-20th century aphorisms.
On Tuesday evening, the Argentine striker missed an open goal from a penalty routine that, to those of a certain vintage, instantly conjured flashbacks to a similarly botched piece of choreography from mercurial Arsenal duo Robert Pires and Thierry Henry.
With the scoreline anchored at 0-0, Icardi’s Galatsaray were awarded a spot kick against struggling Istanbulspor. Kerem Akturkoglu sidled up to take it, but rather than lashing home or cutely feigning brutish might before dinking a Panenka past the stricken goalkeeper, he instead opted to play a short sideways pass into the path of his South American colleague who, after barrelling through like an untethered sled dog, promptly proceeded to skew his effort wide of the upright. All that was missing to make the illusion of deja vu entirely complete was a baffled Danny Mills lurking in the background, framed by the infuriated expressions of a thousand seething Gooners.
Naturally, within moments, Icardi’s humiliation was plastered all across social media timelines the world over. It’s little wonder that You’ve Been Framed went the way of the dodo. Many of the immediate reactions were, understandably, disbelieving. It was, after all, a glaring blunder of historic proportions. But there were also those whose knee jerk response was to chastise Icardi and his accomplice for ever enacting such a hare-brained scheme in the first place. To those people, I say: hush.
In the first instance, Icardi redeemed himself more than adequately, scoring five minutes later to secure a 1-0 win for his side and to move them above Fenerbahce at the top of the Super Lig table. On the grand spectrum of comebacks it is hardly up there with ‘Lazarus rising from the dead’ or ‘Brendan Fraser’s acting career’ but in the context of a floodlit rectangle of grass on a Tuesday night in Esenyurt, it did nicely.
Perhaps more relevant still, however, is an understanding that football is a game of moments - one of joy and inspiration, hopelessness and inscrutable stupidity. It is about sifting through gallons of silted monotany to stumble across a lonely, gleaming nugget of divine notability.
You see, had Akturkoglu buried his penalty without incident, nobody would have cared much beyond the shrill intervention of the final whistle. Likewise, had he leaned back a touch too obstusely and loosed a strike that bothered the hot dog vendors partway up the terraces, the din would have simmered for only as long as it took Galatasaray to find an eventual opener.
But this - this howling excuse of a bungle - will live long in the memory. And if you don’t believe me, just ask Robert and Thierry. At the end of the day, what do we watch football for if not to be entertained by the sublime and the ludicrous? Icardi’s faux pas, and the hubristic streak that likely coaxed it out of him, were irrefutably, incalculably bad. But hey, at least it wasn’t dull.