Before the weekend, Ben Garuccio had not scored a single A-League goal in four years. His drought dated back to before Riley McGree’s scorpion kick of 2018 was nominated for a Puskás award.
On Sunday night the Western United full-back broke it in scarcely conceivable fashion, with a McGree 2.0 that has gone similarly viral.
The moment came when, midway through the second half of United’s 3-2 win over Western Sydney, Aleksandar Prijović caught the ball on the outside of his boot and chipped it into the box.
It ended up just behind the onrushing Garuccio who, against the momentum of his run, threw his left boot up and over his body to flick the ball up and past Daniel Margush’s near post.
“It was unbelievable, to be honest,” said Garuccio, who scored two goals at Aami Park. “It was spur-of-the-moment. [Prijović] got it and I saw a little gap and I just ran and he played a top ball, and I just stuck my leg up basically and I thought, ‘if I can get any sort of connection on this it will be all right.’
“It actually hit my heel nice and flush and I was like, that’s a good connection, but I couldn’t see it and I looked up and it was in the net,” he said. “The rest is history, I suppose.
“It just felt like I got a good connection on it because I did one in training a couple of weeks ago and I faceplanted horribly and everyone laughed at me.”
United’s coach, John Aloisi, a former Australian international, was just as shocked.
“I didn’t know if he did a bicycle kick or what until I saw it back on the screen,” Aloisi said. “I just couldn’t believe it. There’s some goal. He’s probably in line for a Puskás award – goal of the year around the world – so let’s hope he gets that.”
A tweet of the video by @TheRealALM garnered 50,000 views within the hour and was retweeted internationally before, in a strange twist presumably to do with copyright, it was removed. The ALM’s official broadcaster, the Ten Network, subsequently posted its own video.
Garuccio himself played down the prospect of a Puskás nomination, which would emulate McGree’s. McGree’s longer-range scorpion kick for Newcastle against Melbourne City got him a 2018 nod alongside Mohamed Salah and Gareth Bale, with the award ultimately won by Salah.
“I don’t really think about that stuff too much,” Garuccio said. “Obviously, it’s a nice feeling. It’s an unbelievable goal. It’s probably the best I’ll ever score in my career. So of course I’ll enjoy it.
“Riley McGree’s was unbelievable. It was right-footed as well. He’s a left-footer and he did it with his right foot and it was outside the box. I still enjoyed it, I’ll take it.”