Learning how to beat a goalkeeper in a one-on-one soccer situation is one of the most important skills an attacker can learn.
One-on-one opportunities can be rare, and if you are lucky enough to find yourself clear of the defense and clean through on goal, it is important to take advantage of the situation.
Stay CalmWhen you have possession of the ball and are running through on goal, the first thing to remember is to remain calm under pressure. If you start to panic, there is a greater chance that you will mis-control the ball or kick it too far ahead of you, giving the goalkeeper a greater chance to gather. Try to touch the ball down with the inside of your foot, as most strikers feel this gives them the greater control. Do not let it bounce too far ahead of you. If you panic when faced with the goalkeeper, it is more likely that you will hurry or scuff your shot, not getting the clean contact and accuracy on the ball which is crucial in one-on-one situations.
Assess Your OptionsAn attacker has a number of options when closing in on goal. Many strikers decide what to do just before they enter the penalty box. The decision can be determined by the position of the goalkeeper and how far they have come out to meet you. Has the goalkeeper simply stayed on his line, or rushed out to meet you in an attempt to close down your angle and hurry your decision? You should be assessing your options as you close in on the penalty area. It is important to keep your head up so that you can see where the goalkeeper is and the options you have in front of you.
Decision TimeIf a goalkeeper stays on their line, the best option is to aim for one of the corners because they cannot cover both of these. You have more control of the ball if you keep it low and hit it to either side of the keeper, but a finish into the top left or right corner can also be effective.
If the goalkeeper comes out to meet you, faking a shot and going around them can be an effective technique. If you fake to shoot and then dribble around the goalkeeper, this can trick them into making a dive, meaning they are stranded on the turf while you take the ball around them and roll into an unguarded net. If a goalkeeper dives one way, they help to make your decision for you because they give you a greater portion of the goal to shoot into. If the goalkeeper is covering the far post, aim for the near post.
It is good to wait until the last moment, not showing the goalkeeper the dribble or the direction you want to move towards.
If a goalkeeper has rushed out, a good ploy is to lob the ball over them. This is effective if they have dived at your feet or are a far enough distance away in order for you to lift it over the top of them.
If a goalkeeper has their legs open, rolling the ball between them – a nutmeg - can be a good option. It is very difficult for them to get down and save the ball with their hands if it is struck firmly enough between their legs.