It’s not often that Nemanja Matic gets to claim the plaudits for his prowess in front of goal.
The big Serbian bruiser is far more used to getting a pat on the back for undertaking defensive duties in the heart of the midfield, which is why his recent outing for his national side against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will have left him with plenty to smile about on a personal note.
Despite the fact that Serbia ended up losing the Euro 2016 qualifier 2-1 Matic was able to take home something of a collector’s item by way of nailing an almost perfect bicycle kick to level the scoring. The home side had led through Ricardo Carvalho as the ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid man nodded home in the ninth minute, but it was the match leveller that became the major talking point.
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Coming seemingly from nothing, Serbia’s goal was produced by a corner that was flicked onto the back post to the awaiting Matic. The 26-year-old then defied angles and logic to adjust his feet and hammer home a fantastic bicycle kick past Rui Patricio; one that may well be marked down as the most technically brilliant goal of his career.
As it was the goal itself didn’t count for anything points wise - Portugal reclaimed the lead through a Fabio Coentrao tap-in later in the second-half, but will that bother Matic? Yes, it will probably will, but for the sake of fluidity we’re going to write NO WAY instead.
Group I standings
The result of the tie means that Serbia are rooted to the bottom of Group I, having had three points deducted for their part in the farcical fixture that had to be abandoned against Albania earlier in qualification. Portugal on the other hand sit top with nine points, their shock loss to Albania at home the only blemish on their record.
Of course not qualifying for the Euros would be a huge disappointment for Serbia, who boast a number of high-profile players in key positions. The likes of Branislav Ivanovic, Lazar Markovic, Aleksander Kolarov, Dusan Tadic and of course Matic himself are all big names in the Premier League, and so they would have approached the group stage with optimism all things considered.
Yet such things rarely pan out in real life as they look on paper and unless Radovan Curcic’s men can turn things around in the second half of the group phase they look like bowing out with a whimper. If they do then Matic’s strike against Portugal might be the only positive he takes from the whole experience, though we’re sure his success at Chelsea might make up for that to some degree.
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