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“Italy beating England in the Euros, all day long!" | The best football moments of 2021

Johnny Ward, Dan McDonnell and Mark Lawrenson joined John Duggan on Football Saturday to offer their footballing highlights from 2021

2021 proved to be a year stacked with memorable football moments.

Between a scintillating Euro 2020, the Girls in Green beating Olympic semi-finalists Australia, and Gavin Bazunu looking Ronaldo square in the eye and saying “not today, mate”, it is difficult to say which football moment stood out the most.

That didn’t stop Johnny Ward, Dan McDonnell and Mark Lawrenson from giving their picks, however.

The trio joined John Duggan on Football Saturday to offer their own footballing highlights from 2021.

Mark Lawrenson - Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph

For the Liverpool and Ireland legend, there was no debate as to which football moment he enjoyed the most this year.

“Italy beating England in the Euros, all day long,” Lawrenson said.

“They only played one game away in that competition, and they were ranting about this and raving about that.”

“Look, England were good in that competition, you can’t get away from that - but they weren’t great. The way they were going on, you’d think they were like Brazil 1970.”

“When they were beaten, I had to drive home 6 or 7 hours that night; it felt like 2 minutes, it was fabulous!”

Dan McDonnell - Messi’s Argentina claim the 2021 Copa America

Not opting for the ever-tempting schadenfreude, the Irish Independent soccer correspondent chose the moment the Argentina legend finally got it done on the international stage.

“It was a sort of half-life experience,” McDonnell said. “It was in the Maracana, but it was behind closed doors”

“But then the full-time whistle blows, and all the Argentinian players just run towards Messi because they know that’s the story.”

“I know it was 28 years since Argentina had won a tournament, but everyone knew it was really about the symbolism of Messi finally having that major tournament with Argentina.”

“He’s won pretty much everything else. Maybe he’s never going to win the World Cup - which he could’ve won in the same stadium.

McDonnell also mentioned the clear sense of euphoria from his Argentinian teammates. "I’m sure there’s times when they love Messi. There might be times when they might resent some of the stuff around him.”

“But you see the way they were all running towards him at the full-time whistle, and you saw that it genuinely meant the world.”

Johnny Ward - Patrick McEleney’s goal vs Vitesse Arnhem

Ward had considered giving it to Bazunu’s spectacular penalty save against CR7.

Ultimately, however, Ward selected McEleney’s goal against the Dutch club in the Europa Conference League qualifiers as his favourite football moment.

“It was a really weird season for Dundalk, because they turned it on every now and then,” Ward said. “But his goal against Vitesse Arnhem to go 2-1 up in a proper stadium against a proper team from the Netherlands - the quality of that goal!”

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