Spain's Xabi Alonso joins Cristiano Ronaldo at the head of the class in the European Championship quarterfinals.
At Euro 2012, where 20 headed goals have been scored, Alonso and Portugal star Ronaldo showed perfect technique to send their teams into the semifinals.
Alonso's header to take the lead in a 2-0 victory over France on Saturday was almost identical to Ronaldo's goal that knocked out the Czech Republic on Thursday.
The Spain midfielder took up a good back-post position to meet a cross with an angled run into the goalmouth.
Then, with feet planted and a steady gaze on the ball, Alonso headed it powerfully down and bouncing back across the wrongfooted goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris.
For Spain to win with a header goes against type for a team whose short, neat passing typically keeps the ball skimming across the turf.
Yet it fitted perfectly with one of the strongest scoring trends in Poland and Ukraine.
In 27 matches, 20 of the 69 goals -- well above the scoring average of recent World Cups -- have come from scorers using their head. The previous record for a Euro finals tournament was 17.
Why is such an old-fashioned football skill making a comeback at Euro 2012?
UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh has declined to call it a trend based on a relatively small sample size.
Certainly, UEFA President Michel Platini believes attacking players have more chance to reach the ball if defenders are denied their sly arts of shirt-pulling and nudging.
UEFA's championing of additional assistant referees beside each goal has apparently deterred defenders from fouling, for fear of conceding a penalty or being shown a yellow card.
Still, Alonso and Ronaldo scored from open play, using their superior wits, skill and positional sense to make the difference.
Type the code from the image
Your Daily BS. © 2011