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Football: Top 10 outrageous free-kick routines

Virendra Karunakar

West Ham United sent their fans delirious over the weekend when they went to White Hart Lane and put on a brilliant display to crush Tottenham Hotspur 3-0.

During that game, the Hammers executed a smart free-kick routine which caught Tottenham off guard and from which Kevin Nolan almost scored.

In the context of that free-kick, here are a few other instances of similar non-run-of-the-mill free-kicks. A top 10 of some of the best free-kick routines:

A US college game between Bryant and Conway

In this brilliantly faked set-piece (either that or brilliantly clumsy set-piece), two Bryant players while running over the ball as a decoy bump into each other, and this distracts both the actual free-kick taker as well as the defenders.

A simple pass is then played on to an onrushing forward who coolly slots it past the Conway goalkeeper.

Javier Zanetti against England

Everyone remembers England’s World Cup match against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup for the infamous incident involving David Beckham and Diego Simeone. That drama apart, there was also a beautifully worked set piece by Juan Sebastian Veron and Javier Zanetti.

Veron slides the ball a little wide of the wall assembled by England and Zanetti runs forward and takes a shot across the face of David Seaman’s goal. Glenn Hoddle’s side were too slow to react and the ball was already past them before they realised.

Borehamwood vs Arsenal

In this cheeky attempt during a non-competitive game between the two teams, three Borehamwood players gather around the ball before the taking of the kick. One of them picks it up with his hands and shifts it to his left, thereby changing the angle. The actual taker then strikes the ball and lands it in the back of the net.

There are doubts though if this would be allowed in a competitive game.

David Nugent against Burnley

Preston were in need of something special during their Lancashire derby match against Burnley. And they got just that, when two of the Preston players work together to lift a ball into Burnley’s penalty area for David Nugent to run onto and score on the turn.

How good is that!

Kuwait futsal team

A very odd set piece to say the least.

The Kuwaiti futsal team decide to head a dead ball (can you imagine that?)! The player heads it to one side and another player out of nowhere comes through and smashes the ball past a hapless goalkeeper.

Joy to the scorers, bewilderment to the opposition!

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A match between Coventry and Everton in 1970

Over 40-years-ago, before free-kicks could be dissected and analysed in such great detail, Willie Carr and Ernie Hunt combined to produce a spectacular free-kick.

Carr flicks the ball up from the ground for his comrade Hunt who blasts it into the top left-hand corner giving the keeper no chance. Rather unsurprisingly, the goal won the goal of the season award.

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A match between Sweden and Romania at the 1994 World Cup

Sweden’s Tomas Brolin signed for Leeds in 1995 immediately after the World Cup, but he was lambasted by Leeds fans as a colossal waste of money and a flop.

A year earlier he had impressed at the World Cup in the USA where he was part of this inventive free-kick. During their quarterfinal against Romania, Brolin hid behind the wall of defenders and when the ball came his way stepped away from the ball and guided in the opener.

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Israel’s Hapoel Ra’anana

At first glance one might feel that the players’ tomfoolery has no role in the goal. But on a second examination, it can be seen that the defending team’s wall moves forward a little bit too soon after buying the ploy.

The kick-taker then makes use of the extra leniency to score.

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A match between Rot-Weiss Essen v Wattenscheid 09 (Try pronouncing that)

In a ploy to confuse the keeper, six players surround the ball during a free-kick and two players feign movement and attempt to take the kick at the same time.

In the prevailing confusion, Benedikt Koep steps forward and curls in a fine left-footed free-kick beyond the keeper and into the top corner.

Catania drop it down

Distractions always work. Whether it’s a fight, trick movement or even verbal distraction, it always provides a team with an advantage on the field.

Add dropping your shorts to that list because that’s exactly what the Catania players did during this match. With the free-kick about to be taken from about 25 yards out, four players from Catania dropped their shots right in the goalkeeper’s line of sight.

And it worked too, the goalkeeper eyes stayed glued to the players while the ball was sent hurtling past him by one of the other Catania players.

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Edited by Staff Editor

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