Sometimes it takes longer to describe a goal than it took to score it, as the following example shows: Gibraltar kick off their 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifier against Belgium. The ball finds its way back to Jamie Bosio, who plays a short pass to Ryan Casciaro, only to see the advancing Christian Benteke nip in to intercept it. Taking a couple of touches as he closes in on goal, the striker takes on a defender, shifts the ball on to his left foot and slams it past keeper Deren Ibrahim.
It takes around ten seconds to read that description of a goal that Benteke took just 8.1 to score. In doing so, he set a new record for the fastest goal ever scored in the history of the World Cup, qualifiers and finals matches included.
“The coach told us to press up front as soon as the match started,” said the record-breaking Benteke, giving an equally rapid description of the goal to Belgian broadcaster *RTBF *after the match. “The defender didn’t anticipate the pass very well and I got in there and was able to score. The defender was very passive and I made the most of it.”
“He scored and he kept hold of the ball,” said his coach Roberto Martinez. “He deserved it for all the hard work he’s done in the last few weeks. He’s come through a very testing season and he’s on the way to rediscovering his very best form.”
The 25-year-old Benteke’s strike was nominally quicker than the previous fastest, scored by San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri in a World Cup qualifier against England in November 1993, a landmark achievement for one of the minnows of world football and which has now finally been bettered, almost 23 years on.
“It wasn’t my intention. My intention was to go and enjoy the game and get three points,” added a smiling Benteke. “It just shows that we were fully focused right from the start. We weren’t selfish. We play for each other, and the aim was to get an early goal and set ourselves up for the win. And, well, that’s what I did.”
Just for good measure, the Crystal Palace striker went on to complete a hat-trick in Faro, where Gibraltar play their home games, as the Belgians cruised to a 6-0 win that keeps them well on course for Russia 2018.