It’s probably the most eye-catching way to score a goal. The direct free-kick. Over the wall, under the wall, around the wall, curled in, in off a deflection or blasted into the goal, each of these ways of converting a free-kick is beautiful on its own and never ceases to grip the fans and players.
Designed to catch the opposition off guard, free-kick routines are a practice that teams work on extensively during training sessions.
It is a tool can comes in handy as a surprise advantage when a free-kick is given. With the plan set for the team given the set-piece and the players in position, it is something that the opposition would least expect. If executed to perfection, it would result in a goal that is talked about for ages. If not, the team attempting it would end up humiliating themselves. It’s very much a Jekyll and Hyde scenario.
One such clever free-kick routine that was attempted recently comes from Scotland, in the Youth Cup final contested between Rangers and Celtic’s youth teams.
The routine came in the sixth minute of the game, with Rangers already having a 1-0 lead. At the referee’s whistle, a Rangers player shaped to cross the ball into the box but stuttered and stopped, causing the defensive line of Celtic to drop and catching everyone off-guard. Another player making a decoy run then crossed the ball in, the subsequent header down was smashed in by Dapo Mebude as Rangers wheeled away into a 2-0 lead.
The routine was praised by fans and it left the Rangers players ecstatic, at the expense of some dumbfounded and bewildered Celtic players. The end result was rewarding for Rangers, who were being watched by Rangers first team manager Steven Gerrard and Celtic manager Neil Lennon, as the game ended 3-2 in their favor.
It was a clever move that Rangers employed to get their second goal of the game, one that will be talked about for ages and one which will keep rivals on their toes.