Mastering the art of the corner is crucial to any attacking player. A corner is given for the most innocent of mistakes, but the consequences for the defending team can be disastrous.
A corner is given when a player of the defending team knocks the ball over his own back line – not inside the goal, of course! The linesman puts his flag up, and a member of the attacking team will then take a free kick from the nearest corner.
After the ball is kicked, the kicker cannot play it again until another player touches it. If he breaks this rule, the other side gets an indirect free kick.
Corners are marvellous opportunities to score crosses, as the ball can be made to pass right in front of the goal mouth. The attacking team usually forms up in front of the goal, trying to keep the defenders guessing. When the whistle goes, the pack springs up to smash the ball into the back of the net.
See Nemanja Vidic scoring off a corner for Manchester United against Portsmouth on YouTube.
A less common way of playing a corner kick is to play what’s known as a ‘short corner’. In this technique, the kicker passes the ball to a player somewhere between him and the goal. With the narrower angle, this player can make his own attempt to score.
It can be hard to defend a corner. Defenders aren’t allowed within ten yards of the ball before the kick is taken, and pressure is high.