What's the maths behind an amazing FA Cup free-kick?

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1. Can maths help explain free-kicks?

The FA Cup has seen some glorious free-kicks over the years – Nottingham Forest captain Stuart Pearce’s 1991 belter against Spurs, Chelsea star Didier Drogba’s winning dipper in the 2010 final, and Everton legend Kevin Sheedy’s incredible twice-in-a-row effort against Ipswich in 1985, to name just a few. Many seem to defy logic, but can maths actually help explain how they were scored?

2. Power it like Pearce

Click or tap on the hand and drag the arrow down to see Stuart Pearce’s 1991 Cup final belter for Nottingham Forest against Spurs.

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Tottenham Hotspur defeated Nottingham Forest 2-1 in the 1991 FA Cup final, but Spurs' Paul Gascoigne ruptured his cruciate ligament when conceding the foul that led to Stuart Pearce’s goal and was out of action for a year.

3. Analysis – the need for speed

For a clip of Pearce's goal and more on the maths, click or tap on the three hotspots. To show where they are tap '?'

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4. Dip it like Drogba

Click or tap on the hand and drag the arrow up to see Didier Drogba’s dipping 2010 Cup final winner for Chelsea against Portsmouth.

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Chelsea’s Didier Drogba is the only player ever to have scored in four separate FA Cup finals. His winning free-kick against Portsmouth in 2010, the only goal of the game, is one of his finest final goals.

5. Analysis – the parabola

For a clip of Drogba's goal and more about the maths, click or tap on the four hotspots. To show where they are tap '?'

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6. Spin it like Sheedy

Click or tap on the hand and drag the arrow left to see Kevin Sheedy’s 1985 quarter-final curler for Everton against Ipswich.

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Republic of Ireland winger Kevin Sheedy hit two beautiful curling free-kicks against Ipswich in their 1984-85 FA Cup quarter-final tie. The first was ruled out. Luckily for Blues fans, the retake was even better. The match finished 2-2 but Everton won the replay 1-0.

7. Analysis – the Magnus effect

For an interview with Kevin Sheedy and more about the maths, click or tap on the three hotspots. To show where they are tap '?'

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