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England main beneficiaries of set-piece goal glut

8 July 2018 10:56 PM
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Overall, 42 percent of goals in the World Cup have come from set plays or penalties, beating the previous record of 36 percent from the 1998 World Cup and smashing the portion of goals from these situations in 2014 (27 percent), 2010 (24 percent), 2002 (29 percent) and 1994 (33 percent).

This trend has powered the rise of teams that traditionally do not do well in World Cups.

Hosts Russia, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, scored five of their 11 goals from set-pieces on the way to the quarter-finals, their strongest showing since the end of the Soviet Union, and got past highly fancied Spain in the last 16 thanks to a penalty shootout.

England, meanwhile, reached the semi-finals for the first time in 28 years with the help of eight goals from set-pieces, more than any other side in the tournament, including three penalties.

They also won a shootout for the first time in four World Cup attempts by knocking out Colombia in the last 16, a sign of their progress in preparing for every possible outcome.

England have been far more reliant on set-play strategy than fellow semi-finalists Belgium and France, who have struck three goals each from them, while their next opponents Croatia have scored from only one set piece and one penalty.

Gareth Southgate's side's potency from set-pieces was certainly on the minds of Croatia after they were forced into penalties by Russia.

"We watched the game today and saw how good they are from dead-ball situations," captain Luka Modric said.

"We will have to improve on our set-piece defending between now and Wednesday."

Source: brisbanetimes.com.au

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