Harry Kane score a goal during England 6-1 Panama at the World Cup in Russia 2018.

England 6-1 Panama: set piece tricks beats back six

Excellent spacing at set pieces gets goals to loosen up a back six as it finished England 6-1 Panama in World Cup Group G.

England have become quite the set piece masters. Two goals from dead ball situations against Tunisia were followed up by four here as it finished England 6-1 Panama.

Good set piece spacing, combined with excellent movement, once more were too good for their opponent. As a result of these goals, Panama was loosened up defensively and more followed.

Panama’s back six

Panama had clearly identified the England wingbacks as the problem that they needed to diffuse. The Central American side therefore opted to use a back four, which became a six in the defensive phase. Wingers Edgar Barcenas and Jose Luis Rodriguez dropped in to cover the England wingbacks. The pair did this so that the back four could pinch in and congest the centre of the pitch.

Wingers drop to make a back six during England 6-1 Panama in the World Cup..

Wingers drop to make a back six.

The plan was a good one on paper. However, with six across the back line, the midfield trio in front couldn’t cover across the width of the pitch. Consequently, England could get down the sides of them and on to the Panama back line far too easily.

England passes in-behind

A feature of this England side has not only been the set pieces, but also early balls in-behind the opposition defence.

England were at this from the start against Tunisia and continued in that fashion here. Kyle Walker’s flighted ball over the top for the run of Kieran Trippier run forced the corner from which John Stones would open the scoring.

England set piece spacing

England has obviously put a lot of work during training on free kicks and corners. The spacing and movement of this team has been a think of beauty to watch. Runners hit all the channels across the box, with good spacing between each man. The team also hems the six-yard box well with strategically placed players for good rebound control. What’s more, the delivery from both Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young has been impeccable.

It was all on display for the first goal in spite of Panama’s best attempts to grapple as many England players to the floor as possible. England had four players each running a lane to spread out and occupy a Panama defender. Ashley Young then screened John Stones’ marker. The centre back was therefore allowed a free run in to the channel created by the four strategic runs of the England players in front of him to head home.

Space created for the run of John Stones to score a goal during England 6-1 Panama in the World Cup.

Space created for the run of John Stones.

Kieran Trippier’s cross was once more on point. The delivery was straight in to the area that it needed to be at the perfect height for Stones to power his header in to the bottom corner. England 1-0 Panama.

Passing in-behind wins penalty

Jesse Lingard’s runs in behind the defence were a feature of England 2-1 Tunisia. The Man Utd midfielder was at it again as England continued with the tactic. Kieran Trippier was once more involved as he spotted Lingard pointing where he wanted the pass.

Kieran Trippier picks out the run of Jesse Lingard to win a penalty during England 6-1 Panama in the World Cup.

Kieran Trippier picks out the run of Jesse Lingard.

Trippier’s positioning was also good. Panama’s wingers were marking our wingbacks and trying to make it difficult for them to get forward. Trippier being deeper meant that his marker had been drawn out from the back six, leaving space for Lingard to run in to.

Trippier’s pass was on-point to find Lingard’s perfectly timed run. Roman Torres and Fidel Escobar combined to bundle Lingard over from behind for an obvious penalty.

In spite of Panama’s best efforts to interrupt and delay the taking of the kick, Harry Kane displayed nerves of steel to stay composed. The ball was dispatched in to the top corner with effortless power and consummate ease that no goalkeeper was going to get near it.

England open up between the lines

Racing in to a two-goal lead saw Panama lose some of their defensive discipline.

The trio of midfielders in front of the back six not only let England easily down the sides of them, but they also gave up spaces in front of the centre backs. Lingard and Sterling waltzed in and out of these to add a third.

As England easily worked the ball out to Ashley Young to stretch the back six, huge gaps had already begun to appear in-between the trio of Panama midfielders. Sterling was already in one such space between the lines, Lingard would run in and join him.

Midfield trio stretched as Lingard and Sterling get between the lines during England 6-1 Panama at the World Cup.

Midfield trio stretched as Lingard and Sterling get between the lines.

Young had the easy job of laying the ball in to Lingard. A quick exchange of passes with Sterling then put him directly on to the Panama centre backs. What followed was one of the sweetest curling strikes you will see. Lingard arced the ball in to the top corner off the underside of the crossbar to score one of the goals of the tournament.

Training ground brilliance

Swiftly it had become England 3-0 Panama and the threat of a rout was on. John Stones then added a fourth from yet another set piece, once more lifted perfectly from the training pitch to the big stage.

The co-ordination between Trippier, Henderson, Kane, Sterling and Stones was brilliant to see. On top of this, the coverage England had across the penalty area to not only win first and second balls, but also to control rebounds was breath-taking.

As Henderson swept Trippier’s short pass into the box, England had already hemmed the Panama six-yard area to control the second ball and any resulting rebounds.

Kane, Sterling and Stones hem the six-yard box during England 6-1 Panama in the World Cup.

Kane, Sterling and Stones hem the six-yard box.

Raheem Sterling missed a sitter as Jaime Penedo saved his close-range header. However, John Stones was following up to put the rebound in to the roof of the net, sparking celebrations of not only the goal, but also a perfectly executed set play.

Panama pulling pays the penalty

Panama had obviously seen Tunisia get away with a fair amount of grappling and shirt pulling at England set pieces. Following suit was a strange plan given how much this had been flagged up in the media and to FIFA officials. Nevertheless, Panama grabbed, and in some cases mauled, Harry Kane, John Stones and Harry Maguire.

From the opening corner the referee had made it known he wouldn’t tolerate it, which made Anibal Godoy’s bear hug and flooring of Harry Kane even more criminal. Referee Grisha Ghead pointed straight to the spot and booked Godoy for his actions.

Harry Kane stepped forward once more and rifled the ball in to the exact same spot, in spite of Panama’s tactics to delay and put him off once again. Rapidly it had become England 5-0 Panama with Kane and Stones both on for a hat trick.

England back between the lines

After the interval there was a natural slowdown in England’s play with the match well and truly won. The Three Lions did add a sixth goal from the spaces between the lines given up by Panama’s trio of midfielders once again.

Winger Jose Luis Rodriguez was late in his role to drop back and cover his left back. As a result, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was in space between the lines to comfortably receive Kyle Walker’s pass.

Loftus-Cheek in space to receive Walker's pass during England 6-1 Panama at the World Cup.

Loftus-Cheek in space to receive Walker’s pass.

Loftus-Cheek could cut inside just behind the Panama trio of midfielders to get in to a shooting position. He fired the ball at goal, which somehow deflected off Harry Kane’s heel, wrong-footing goalkeeper Jaime Penedo in the process.

Kane had a hat trick and England now had six!

Panama set pieces

Six up and cruising, England took their foot off the gas. Panama scored a consolation as their counter attacks forced set pieces.

First of all, Roman Torres missed a guilt-edged chance at the back post from a corner, which he should have finished. The next set piece was conceded as Raheem Sterling fouled Armando Cooper on a Panama counter attack. Ricardo Avila swung the dead ball in to the path of the arriving Felipe Baloy to slide in to the goal.

The Panama fans roared in to jubilant celebrations at their first World Cup goal, despite the score being England 6-1 Panama. Their participation in the tournament and the game were over, but that wasn’t going to stop them making the loudest cheer of the afternoon.

England 6-1 Panama overall

It’s hard not to get carried away with the play of this England team and how they are growing in to the tournament. Set pieces were not only once more the focal point for a win, but we are becoming a real force at them. Timing, spacing and rebound control are all considered at every dead ball situation and our set plays are becoming a thing of beauty to watch.

Final score: England 6-1 Panama.
MOTM: John Stones.

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16 Responses to England 6-1 Panama: set piece tricks beats back six

  1. Andy B 24th June 2018 at 7:25 pm #

    Another great report to a surprising game.

    That game caught everyone by surprise. I know Panama are amateurs, but to score 6 goals at a world cup game is still an achievement.

    Somehow England managed to make up for not having any creative players, by finding team combinations to cause the damage instead.

    England haven’t been properly tested so far. The real test will come against Belgium, unless they decide to rest their best players.

    I still think that the England defence is vulnerable and maybe Dier needs to come into defensive midfield and Cahill in for Walker, for the Belgium game. Walker made a great tackle, but then proceeded to pass it straight back to the opposition. He is too much of a risk in my opinion.

    I have been impressed with Trippier’s passing and set piece deliveries. It makes me wonder if Spurs should make more use of his abilities than they have.

    There have often been times when Eriksen’s deliveries from free kicks and corners have been poor, but he continues to take them. Maybe Trippier can be given more responsibility and take some of these deliveries instead. Winks has also demonstrated some clever free kicks, when he has had the opportunity to take them. I think Spurs would benefit, by adding more players into the mix, for taking set piece deliveries.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th June 2018 at 7:41 pm #

      Belgium will be a real test for this team, but it really does depend on the lineups that each manager puts out. From Southgate’s comments about tournaments and needing a squad I think we’ll see changes.

      Trippier has been excellent and maybe he’ll be on more set pieces for Spurs. The wingback role definitely suits him a lot better than being a full back though.

      Confidence throughout the team must be sky high and Harry could be on for the golden boot!

      • Carrigbawn 26th June 2018 at 11:54 pm #

        Spot on Mark. I think you are spot on about, Trippier. He doesn’t suit a flat back 4. Needs to be given the freedom of operating as a wingback. He’s a great, natural, crosser of the ball. Better than Erikson from corners. Spurs have one of the worst records among Premiership sides, under Pochettino, of scoring from corners. I’m really impressed with the set pieces organised by Southgate & Holland. I hope Pochettino can learn from them!

    • Carrigbawn 26th June 2018 at 11:59 pm #

      Spot on Andy. Erikson’s corners can often be poor. What I want to know is why Southgate has recognised Trippier’s qualities by letting him take corners, but Pochettino hasn’t? Also how come Southgate has realised that Trippier’s best employed as a wing back? A back 3 of Toby, Verts & Sanchez would make sense.

  2. Andy B 24th June 2018 at 10:21 pm #

    You could probably say the same for Ben Davies. When Spurs have played with 3 centre backs, Davies set up many goal scoring chances, as a wingback. He doesn’t have the passing or crossing ability of Trippier, but he definitely has the ability to create chances.

    When you look at some of Harry’s potential rivals for the golden boot, Messi and Lewandowski have had nightmares so far. Lukaku, Ronaldo and Diego Costa are the most likely players to challenge him.

    The whole Diego Costa situation is a joke, in my opinion. He was born in Brazil to Brazilian parents. He lived and played football in Brazil until he moved to Portugal when he was 18. In 2013, when he was 25, he played two international friendlies for Brazil. Just 6 months later, he decided to play for Spain instead.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th June 2018 at 10:46 pm #

      Usually 6 Goals is enough to win the golden boot, but with the number of penalties this year it’ll probably take at least 8 to win it.

  3. Matt 24th June 2018 at 11:31 pm #

    We could do a lot better with art pieces; hopefully Poch is taking notes! I’d actually stick with Young over Rose; his delivery is so much better than Rose and sadly, so his defending IMO. Kane’s single mindedness and influence on the team is starting to take on Ronaldo esque proportions!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 25th June 2018 at 12:57 am #

      Danny Rose doesn’t look 100% to me ever since coming back from a serious injury. A lot of the speed and pace has gone from his game and he seems quite tentative and hesitant to take opponents on. Crossing has never been his strong point and that is probably why Young is in the starting lineup over him.

      Kane is taking on that big player mantle. Absolute talisman at the minute!

  4. Toby4eva 26th June 2018 at 1:33 pm #

    Hi Mark and crew

    Great review – and indeed England look like a cohesive and dangerous unit for the first time in many years.

    Harry has grasped the nettle psychologically and physically. His penalty taking here was as good as you will ever see. Both strikes were absolutely impossible to save. That’s leadership, intent and executional excellence – any team would be inspired and lifted by a captain delivering like that.

    He has put himself purposely out on a limb with his pre-tournament utterings that England will win the tournament and that he will collect the Golden Boot.

    It is indeed a Ronaldo-esque play!

    And guess what?

    He is delivering!

    Southgate must take a lot of credit as well.

    He has unashamedly stolen from Pochettino’s philosophies and execution – including selecting five of THFC’s best at the core of the squad.

    The only problem – is in my book – that Belgium look even more dangerous!

    The upcoming game could be a belter – but it is more likely to be a cautious affair.

    It is impossible to predict their top two in the other group – so a strategy based outcome is really not in play.

    I’m thinking it will be a low scoring affair that will be an intriguing watch.

    The great thing about all of this of course is that we can all stop burning nervous energy worrying about who THFC are not buying….

    But how good does the Levy masterstroke to get Harry to sign for six years immediately prior to the big dance!

    He is perhaps the most valuable player on the planet right now given his still tender age, current form, England form and a fresh 6 year contract in our Chairman’s office safe!



    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th June 2018 at 11:00 am #

      Great Post Toby4eva. Cant wait for the England – Belgium game. So many Spurs players going up against each other. Will be fascinating to see how Toby and Jan deal with Harry and possibly Dele, if they indeed all play! Dier vs Dembele will be a titanic tussle potentially too!!!

      Harry has really taken it upon himself to be the talisman this tourament. Its the next stage of his evolution. To become a superstar player that the team can rely on to consistently perform at an incredibly high level against the best in the world.

      Levy giving him a new deal before the tournament was a masterstroke. His price will shoot up now and increase even more if he wins the golden boot. I don’t have any concerns about him leaving for a few years, but this contract still won’t stop him leaving when he chooses, it just pushes his price way up as any buyer would have to pay a premium for a player with multiple years left on his current deal. Levy did it with Bale, who left 1 year in to a 5 year deal, but Real Madrid had to make him the world’s most expensive player at the time to get him.

  5. Carrigbawn 26th June 2018 at 11:46 pm #

    Pochettino needs to ask Southgate for some tips on scoring from corners. Because Spurs have one of the worst records, under Pochettino, of scoring from corners, whereas England, under Southgate & Holland, seem to be excelling at scoring from corners & set pieces. Perhaps Pochettino should let Trippier take the corners and set piece free kicks for Spurs instead of Erikson, for starters! At least Trippier gets the ball over the first defender from corners, something Erikson has a real problem with!

    Trippier has had a great World Cup so far. Yet I remember some moronic Spurs fans were calling for him never to wear the “shirt” again because he had a poor game. I don’t think a flat back 4 brings out the best in Trippier. Pochettino, please note!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th June 2018 at 11:10 am #

      Yes i’ve never understood why Trippier wasn’t given corners for Spurs. Pochettino does use a different system to Southgate. Poch prefers to get the ball in to the corner of the six yard box at the near post, whereas Southgate wants it planted on the penalty spot. Poch prefers his centre backs to make near post runs for flick ons and glancing headers, whereas Southagte wants to use the leaping ability of Maguire and Stones to directly attack the goal and either score or get a rebound from it. So, there are differences in approach from each manager, but it still doesn’t warrant why Trippier’s excellent delivery cant’t be used. The only other factor that Poch would need to look at is who defends on the halfway line, as this is Trippier’s position as the covering defender against counter attacks at corners. Eriksen would probably be stationed at the edge of the box to control partial clearances, but it would need a player to take Trippier’s defensive role.

      • Carrigbawn 27th June 2018 at 2:40 pm #

        Many thanks for the reply, Mark. I still think Pochettino has a lot to learn from Southgate regarding corners. The fact is Spurs, under Pochettino, are at the bottom of the Premier League table when it comes to scoring from corners. It looks to me as though Southgate’s methodology is far superior to that of Pochettino’s.

        If Trippier took the corners in future what’s to stop the other full back from taking Trippier’s defensive role? After all Southgate has found a way around that problem.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th June 2018 at 3:15 pm #

          It is strange as in Poch’s second season, only West Brom scored more goals from corners than us. We have regressed since then and some new tactics are needed as opponents are obviously on to what we do.

          The full backs are usually the two back at the halfway line defending counter attacks, so if Trippier is taking corners, we need to find someone else to fill in. Difficult choice for me, but maybe Son or who ever is in for him or maybe Dembele or the player in his role? Requires some serious consideration. Southgate has Walker doing the job, which is in effect a speedy right back, even though he is playing as a centre back.

  6. toby4eva 28th June 2018 at 6:47 am #

    Excellent discussion regarding the “corner conundrum” chaps.

    Gee it makes absolute toast of the Hodgson Euro 16 “Harry takes the corners” routine.

    Hysterical with hindsight.

    Perhaps looking at Trips on the right of a five person midfield (in front of a back three) is the obvious solution for THFC. It would provide consistent width on the right and lift our set piece game.

    If we are talking plagiarism – why not Poch hitch his wagon to something that works for Southgate?

    Trips delivery is probably the best in the League – so it makes absolute sense to shake it up.

    But touching on the Dembele replacement is also timely as well – his are huge boots to fill – and I’m putting my hand up for Tanguy N’Dombele – who has a physical presence and is very mobile. He could be the “halfway line man”.

    Can’t wait to start talking lineups for next season.

    If we buy anyone.


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th June 2018 at 10:22 am #

      Yes Southgate’s ploy of getting his two decent in the air centre backs a heading opportunity at the penalty spot may work well for a team playing with three centre backs. Of course we’d need some variation in schemes ie near post routines and penalty spot routines as premier league teams figure these things out and work out how to defend them pretty quickly.