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England took an early lead in its World Cup semifinal against Croatia on Wednesday via a wonderful free kick from wingback Kieran Trippier:
Trippier’s goal came at the end of the first real attack of the game. Dele Alli got behind Croatian midfielder Luka Modric and won a free kick on the edge of the penalty box.
England’s set-piece process was perfect, as it has been all tournament. The Three Lions put four players in the Croatian wall to screen goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. Subasic saw the ball late as it flew over the wall and into the net.
Trippier is an unlikely hero. At 27, he only made his England debut last year. But manager Gareth Southgate moved Kyle Walker to centerback specifically to get Trippier in the starting lineup. He also put Trippier on set pieces, giving rise to Trippier’s new nickname, the Bury Beckham. (Bury is his hometown.)
Trippier made good on the nickname Wednesday. And he’s had a standout tournament overall.
Set pieces have now been responsible for eight of England’s 12 goals at the World Cup, and Trippier has been a big part of that.
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