Football News

How Marcus Rashford’s free-kick thought process mirrored that of a young Liverpool loanee

By CJ Smith

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring his second goal against Chelsea

Published: 21:16, 31 October 2019 | Updated: 13:13, 27 November 2019

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford says he knew that the Mitre balls used in the Carabao Cup would help make his free-kicks more unpredictable.

Rashford’s wondrous strike handed the Red Devils a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, after Michy Batshuayi had cancelled out his first-half penalty, with United advancing to the quarter-finals.

What is Rashford’s free-kick technique? Five things to know…

  • Rashford has often been criticized for blazing too many free-kicks over the bar.
  • But the 22-year-old’s unique, knuckle-ball technique, can have a devastating effect when executed right.
  • This was demonstrated as his free-kick gave United a 2-1 win over Chelsea in the Carabao Cup.
  • The England international says the Mitre balls used in the competition helped him.
  • Bournemouth midfielder Harry Wilson had similar success with Mitre balls in the Championship last season and has had to adjust to the Premier League’s Nike balls.

Rashford has been criticised for firing too many free-kicks over the bar in recent months but has long been working on refining his unique, knuckle-ball technique, which came to fruition on Wednesday night thanks to a little help from the ball.

“To be honest, it was the balls,” Rashford said. “When we were training with them and we were shooting there was this up and down motion and they can go anywhere.

“Thankfully, today it went in the top corner.”

Rashford’s admission ties in perfectly with comments made by Bournemouth’s free-kick expert Harry Wilson. The Liverpool loanee explained how the Nike balls used in the Premier League are harder to get movement out of than the Mitre ones he used on loan at Derby County in the Championship last season.

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As a result, he too has had to make tweaks to his technique.

“I have had to change my technique a little bit because the mitre balls compared to the Premier League balls are different,” Wilson said in August after scoring a stunning free-kick against Manchester City.

“I can’t quite get the movement I like to get on them so I have tried to change it up during pre-season and the start of the season.

“To see the one fly in on Sunday makes the practice worthwhile.”