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Perfect penalties and the deadly alternative

This was the week when a Manchester United star burnt his tackle doing a DIY brazilian, relegated Sheffield Wednesday sold off lumps of Hillsborough mud, the deadly cost of World Cup penalty shoot-outs was revealed and Antonio Cassano thanked his fiancé for keeping him out of jail.

English eggheads explain how to take the perfect penalty

The World Cup looms large on the horizon and Frank Lampard admitted this week that England are already thinking about yet another heart-wrenching quarter-final defeat to a nerve-jangling penalty shootout.

Since 1990, the Three Lions have been knocked out of five major tournaments on spot kicks and Lampard said: "When it comes down to penalties, you think: 'Oh s*** here we go again'". But the good news for England is that some clever boffins over at Liverpool's John Moores University have cobbled together a simple scientific formula on how take the perfect penalty.

All Fabio Capello's boys have to do is hit the spot -ick at around 65 miles per hour from a run-up of no more than six paces, strike the ball less than three seconds after the whistle is blown or more than 13 seconds after the referee indicates he is ready, approach the ball at an angle of between 20 and 30 degrees before hitting it high to the left or right of the goalkeeper, making sure the ball crosses the line exactly 0.5m below crossbar and 0.5m inside either post.

Penalty shoot-outs can kill you

And those England boys had better start practising because some different eggheads have released some worrying statistics that show if the spot-kicks go wrong, it could result in death.

According to the research, hospital admissions for cardiac arrests in England and Wales rose by 25% when England lost to Argentina on penalties on June 30, 1998 and on the following two days after their World Cup tie.

Even more worryingly, in the 1996 European Championships, the death rate in the Netherlands from heart attack or stroke went up by around 50% on the day when Holland were knocked out by France on penalties.

So before guzzling down all those pints and snaffling all the pork scratchings whilst watching the match, give a thought to how it is likely to pan out.

Ronaldo burns tackle doing DIY brazilian?

Manchester United coach Brian McClair has revealed that one of the clubs star players once burned his tackle following an ill-advised dalliance with a tube of hair removal cream, just 24 hours before a big match.

"This made changing the next day a bit awkward," McClair, a former United striker and now the club's academy director, wrote in Manchester United's official magazine.

Although the article did not reveal the name of the player, an Old Trafford source told The Sun the incident did not involve a current first-team player and the smart money is on renowned metro-sexual Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo left United to join Real Madrid for £80 million in 2009 and former lover Nereida Gallardo revealed: "Cristiano and I took the same time to get ready. I always wax - but he waxed everything."

Sheffield Wednesday sell lumps of mud

Lucky Sheffield Wednesday fans have been given the chance to buy a piece of the Hillsborough pitch that the team were relegated on following a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

As little as £10 can buy one of the 32 sections, that "may not be a perfect piece of turf, but is guaranteed to have some grass", as a permanent reminder of the delightful day they went down to League One.

For the more discerning Wednesday sadist 'Premium' pieces are available at £25, which will include either a section of the centre-spot, the penalty spots or each of the four corners of the pitch.

This genius business venture could land the Owls an enormous windfall of £475, to make a huge dent in their reported debts of £30 million.

Cassano: 'I'd be in jail without her'

Rehabilitated Italian bad-boy Antonio Cassano will marry Carolina Marcialis this summer, after being omitted from Marcello Lippi's World Cup squad, and claimed this week that he would be in prison if he had not met his fiancé.

Cassano had been involved in a string of bust-ups and controversies during his career but the former Real Madrid forward has turned his life around since he met the water polo player.

"She has given me balance. I no longer need to be crazy to be happy because she is there," Cassano told Donna Moderna. "If I had not met her, I would be in jail right now."

And Cassano also had some words of advice for current Italian hell raiser, Inter Milan's Mario Balotelli. "Mario and I are like each other," Cassano said. "I was worse at his age. I didn't listen to anyone. But in the end I paid for it. I haven't won anything.

"This is why I hope Balotelli finds someone to teach him the right path because you must be convinced to change, but it takes someone who makes you mature."

VT of the week

It has been called the £90 million penalty miss that cost Leicester City a place at Wembley and possibly in the Premier League. The Foxes' French striker Yann Kermorgant fluffed his lines in spectacular fashion in the Championship play-off semi-final when he tried to chip the Cardiff keeper and failed.

His costly miss became the most talked-about subject on website Twitter in the UK and thanks to our friends at 101greatgoals you can see the shoot-out here.

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