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Set-piece taking is the new rock and roll after starring role in World Cup opening fixtures

Only three World Cup games haven't featured a goal from a header or set-piece, and in two of those matches penalties were missed

Is there anything more pleasing than watching a free-kick sail into the back of the net?

What about seeing an old-fashioned header buried past a stranded goalkeeper?

Whatever your persuasion, we’ve been spoiled for choice in the opening round of World Cup fixtures.


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Spoiler alert: No need to dive for this one

Reuters
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Spoiler alert: No need to dive for this one

With only Poland v Senegal to play, all but three of the opening 2018 World Cup games have featured a goal from a header or set-piece, either directly or indirectly.

In two of those three games- Argentina’s draw with Iceland and Denmark’s 1-0 win against Peru- penalties were awarded but missed.

So Germany’s 1-0 loss to Mexico, which was decided by Hirving Lozano’s strike from open play, is in a class of its own.

HA HA

EPA
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HA HA

Four direct free-kicks have been scored, three from lefties Aleksandr Golovin, Aleksandar Kolarov and Juan Quintero, and one from Cristiano Ronaldo’s right foot.

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Headers from set-pieces have led to goals in eight of the 15 games, with a further nine penalties handed out, seven of which have been converted.

Russia’s Artem Dzyuba and Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku both converted headers from crosses in open play, while Samuel Umtiti’s handball against Australia was the result of a dangerous free-kick.

England owed their goals against Tunisia to Ashley Young and Kieran Trippier’s corners, while the less said about Ferjani Sassi’s penalty the better.

In short, if you can cross the ball, convert a set-piece or specialise in heading, your price tag has just gone up a few zeros.

The moment football started coming home

Getty Images - Getty
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The moment football started coming home

The art of delivering from out wide was seemingly dead.

Inverted wingers and shrinking strikers have seen heading become something of a lost art and rendered crossing redundant.

But if the opening round of World Cup games are anything to go by then heading and crossing is very much back in vogue.

Peter Crouch to PSG. You heard it here first.

Head and shoulders above the rest

AP:Associated Press
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Head and shoulders above the rest