There is no bigger lie in football than “that’s the last thing we want to see”.
Whether it takes the form of a petty scrap on the pitch or an individual error, the next best thing to seeing your own team succeed is seeing others fail.
As failures go, the comedy own goal ranks about as highly as they come. It’s a chance to see an opposition player embarrassed in a manner which can stay with them for weeks, with none of the guilt of witnessing them suffer any physical pain.
Speaking of inflicting physical pain, Bournemouth’s Jefferson Lerma is certainly making an impression in his first Premier League season. The Colombian midfielder is a walking yellow card, with his fondness for snapping into tackles earning him 16 yellow cards while playing for Levante in La Liga last term (plus another two in the Copa del Rey and one in an international match for Colombia). He probably won’t match that tally this time around, but this is a player who is clearly partial to a booking or 10.
Lerma has never been quite as prolific when it comes to scoring goals; indeed, he has only ever found the back of the net on 11 occasions despite playing well over 200 games for club and country. We’re willing to let him off, though, as that isn’t really the job of a holding midfielder.
Lerma opened his account for Bournemouth in November, scoring in the 2-1 defeat by Newcastle United at St James’ Park. He also made the net ripple in his next Premier League appearance against Arsenal two weeks later, but this time the Colombian did not celebrate his effort – and with good reason.
The Cherries may have lost their previous two games heading into their clash with the Gunners at the Vitality Stadium, but they were sixth in the table and many felt an upset could be on the cards. It might have been too, at least until Lerma decided to intervene and hand Unai Emery’s men a helping hand.
The midfielder’s interception was done with the best of intentions, but that hardly matters in the grand scheme of things. As Sead Kolasinac plays a ball across the Bournemouth penalty area, Lerma knows he needs to cut out the danger, but at the same time he knows it will take a monumental effort to do so.
No bother, though. Lerma is an intelligent midfielder in the best physical shape of his life. He has both the wherewithal and the athleticism to throw himself towards the ball in the most efficient way, ensuring it doesn’t reach an Arsenal boot. He does exactly that, meeting the ball with the sweetest of connections and firing it into the back of the net. His own net.
With great power comes great responsibility, and when you’re good enough to pull off a flying volley your only concern is ensuring it flies the way you’re aiming. In no uncertain terms, this was the last thing Lerma wanted to happen.
The Colombian at least did one thing right. In diving in feet-first, his finishing position leaves him looking extremely suave if he succeeds in putting the ball out of play, allowing him to lie flat on his back, hands behind his head, admiring his handiwork from afar.
However, it also gives him a cop-out: on those occasions where he gets it wrong, his head and hands won’t have far to travel to meet in a display of despair. Oh, and it’s probably easier for the ground to swallow you up if your entire body is lain flat, as close to ground level as possible.
Lerma might end up doing nothing else in his Premier League career, or he might achieve everything within his capabilities, but it will be some time before he’s able to outdo this own goal. For now, his best bet is to embrace it and and not let it stop him diving in to make extravagant interceptions going forward. After all, something like this couldn’t possibly happen again, could it?