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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
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Science discovers perfect penalty
 If only England had known back in 1998 - and 1990, 1996 and 2004...
England's bid for World Cup glory could be boosted by scientists who claim to have discovered the formula for the perfect penalty.

Experts at Liverpool John Moores University have sent their findings to England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Factors involved in their calculations include the number of steps in run-up, time taken to kick the ball, velocity of shot and position of striking foot.

The formula to remember in a shoot-out is (((X+Y+S)/2)x((T+I+2B)/4))+(V/2)-1.

'Lift the curse'

This was calculated after analysing England's penalties at major tournaments since 1962.

The scientists found their perfect penalty was Alan Shearer's spot-kick against Argentina in the second round of the World Cup in 1998 - a match England lost on penalties.

 THE PERFECT PENALTY (((X+Y+S)/2)x((T+I+2B)/4))+(V/2)-1 V Velocity of ball once struck T Time between placing ball on spot and striking ball S Number of steps in run-up I Time ball is struck after goalkeeper initiatives dive Y Vertical placement of ball from ground X Horizontal placement of ball from centre B Striking position of foot

Dr David Lewis, a mathematician who developed the formula, said: "Until now penalty taking has been described as a lottery - one that England have bought a ticket to but lost when it mattered.

"We would advise lots of practice for the England squad using these guidelines, and maybe we can lift the curse."

The scientists found the ideal velocity for the ball to be 25-29 metres per second and the ideal number of steps in a run-up to be four to six - but a long run-up of 10m is the least successful.

The ideal time to take the penalty is three seconds or less and while waiting for the goalkeeper to move before striking the ball helps the chances of success, if a player waits more than 0.41 milliseconds, chances of scoring are halved.

The study was commissioned by bookmakers Ladbrokes which is offering odds of 3/1 that England are defeated on penalties during the World Cup.

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