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A needlessly detailed analysis of Alexis Sanchez and Harry Kane’s different approaches to open goals

Two open goals, two contrasting methods, two very different outcomes...

How’s your knowledge of Adam Sandler films?

Whenever you are faced with an open goal in life, be it literal or metaphorical, always take the advice of Carl Weathers’ character in Happy Gilmore…

“Just tap it in.”

Tapping it in is exactly what Alexis Sanchez failed to do last weekend as Man United lost 1-0 to Newcastle at St James’ Park.

The Chilean forward latched on to a wonderful throughball from Romelu Lukaku before rounding Martin Dubravka with his first touch.

With the empty net agape, Sanchez lifted his favoured right-foot but bizarrely decided not to pull the trigger.

After a feint, he did unleash his shot but the delay cost him dear as Florian Lejeune had time to get back and make a block.

Cue ten thousand memes.

“Overrated Chilean pianist” was a phrase we saw a lot on Twitter

Getty - Contributor
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“Overrated Chilean pianist” was a phrase we saw a lot on Twitter

There must have been a reason that an elite player, with an insatiable desire to win, decided not to take on the shot first time.

If you watch the replay you’ll see that Sanchez was travelling at speed when he gained possession.

It’s possible his balance wasn’t right for a successful finish.

Sorry to bring it up again, Alexis…

Getty - Contributor
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Sorry to bring it up again, Alexis…

And, if you were being kind, it looks as if his left foot was planted too close to the ball and it may be that Sanchez decided the risk of striking his finish into his standing foot was too great.

Whatever the case, he probably regrets not going for it.

Now, let’s relive Harry Kane’s goal against Juventus last night.

The first thing to say is that Kane wasn’t running as fast as Sanchez.

However, he was still travelling quick enough to leave Gigi Buffon stranded with a single touch.

The angle was more acute for Kane and, importantly, he could only finish with his weaker left foot.

Mutual respect

Getty Images - Getty
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Mutual respect

Then there’s the occasion.

Obviously a Premier League game is played under intense pressure and scrutiny, but the Champions League knockout stages are where careers are made and broken.

Before the game, much was made of Spurs’ relative lack of experience in the latter stages of Europe’s premier competition.

And while the number of Kane doubters are dwindling by the day, those that remain demand he perform in the Champions League and at a major international tournament before they give their approval.

Add in the double-punch of Gonzalo Higuain’s early brace, the possibility of Spurs crumbling in the first leg, the intimidating statistic that Juventus hadn’t conceded at home in 826 minutes, and the pressure of simply scoring into an unguarded net becomes almost debilitating.

He’s bloody good, ain’t it?

Getty - Contributor
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He’s bloody good, ain’t it?

Not for Kane though.

For Spurs’ talisman it was just another goal — number 33 for the season and nine in his last nine Champions League games.

Not for a second did he consider the social media s**tstorm that would have erupted had he missed the chance.

Option B, stopping the ball and looking for a team-mate, was discarded instantaneously.

Open goal equals shoot; regardless of angle, foot, or situation.

Easy as that

AP:Associated Press
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Easy as that

We’re almost definitely reading too much into these two incidents but perhaps Sanchez and Kane’s decision-making highlights the difference between a great player and a great goalscorer.

Sanchez is a world-class talent but that instinctive reaction to not shoot with the goal at his mercy was telling.

He’s scored plenty of goals in his career and doesn’t have anything to prove in that department but just as Kane will never be able to bustle through a pair defenders like Sanchez, Sanchez can’t learn the instincts of a born finisher.

We’ve rambled on long enough

REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
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We’ve rambled on long enough

The fact that Sanchez and Kane are different type of players will come as a revelation to nobody.

However, it is rare to see the difference exhibited in something as universal as finishing an open goal.

Just tap it in…


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