How Erling Haaland developed his own trademark finish

The Norwegian is one of the purest goalscorers around and it's testament to his finishing ability that he has carved out a goal all of his own

11:00am on Sunday 11th October 2020
Paul Macdonald

Erling Haaland's clinical finishing is the type that makes Expected Goals models appear redundant.

In the second half of last season, after signing with Dortmund in January from RB Salzburg, he scored 13 goals from 8.1 non-penalty xG. Of his 35 shots, 20 were on target, and 13 went in. In a game where we are constantly told the centre-forward needs to be able to do more than score goals, Haaland continues to refute that stipulation.

He has continued that form into this season. He has four goals in three matches on an xG of 2.1, continuously blowing up the model. But now we have a bigger sample size, we see a pattern emerging with how the 20-year-old approaches the skill of the one-on-one.

Haaland's ideal position is running into the channel behind the right centre-back. From here, using his left foot, he can either direct the ball across the keeper in the far corner, or lift it high above the keeper and into the roof of the net.

He knows his exact position in relation to the goal at this angle and he gives himself two finishing options.

Option 1: Through the Keeper

v Gladbach, 2020/21

View goal at this link on YouTube

You can see Haaland's trademark move here, off the shoulder of the defender allowing him to shoot with his left foot. Jadon Sancho is the man to find him and the pass takes him close to the goalkeeper which narrows the angle. So Haaland commits the keeper by hitting it through him high into the net.

This is clearly deliberate. When he gets within range of the goalkeeper but doesn't think he has the angle to go across goal, he just goes forward, and it regularly works.

Here's another example, again this season, against, Freiburg:

v Freiburg, 2020/21

View goal at this link on YouTube

Slipped in by Gio Reyna on his left side, he lifts his shot to rise it above the goalkeeper and into the net. Reyna times the weight of the pass to perfect and clearly Haaland has identified that this is a run he will make with regularity, making life easier for his attacking midfielders.

Option 2: Across the Keeper

In the first goal in this clip, Haaland goes into the same position, and if he finds himself a touch further out from the goalkeeper, he knows the angle he has to strike the ball to sweep across it and direct into the far corner where the GK can't reach it.

He scored this goal on numerous occasions in 2019/20 both with Salzburg and at Dortmund to prove that this is a very deliberate run, into the same position, to touch the ball just once.

Erling Haaland has found an economy of finishing and the question is - can defenders work out how to stop it?

Erling Haaland: Player Statistics, Career Stats and Position

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