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Mauro Icardi delivered a gut-punch that Tottenham should have seen coming

Most strikers need a lot of quality shots to score. Mauro Icardi is a bit different.

FC Internazionale v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Group B Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

In soccer, if you want to score goals, it’s good to get a lot of shots. It’s especially good to get those shots from central areas in the box. And only true tap-ins are chances that someone “should have scored.” A lot of chances that look like huge opportunities to your eyes only actually hit the back of the net about 40 percent of the time.

The best strikers are good finishers, yes, but more importantly they get a lot of shots from fairly high-percentage areas. Some of the best attackers in the world often generate well over 100 shots from a 38-game season. Mohamed Salah, for example, had 144 shots in the Premier League last year.

If you can get off 120 shots, get 60 of them on target, and score 30 of them, you’re a world class striker. That’s an exceptional conversion rate. But there are a tiny handful of weirdos like Inter Milan star Mauro Icardi*, who scored 29 goals in Serie A last season. He did that on a very good, but not outrageous 101 shots. Impressively, he got 63 percent of his shots on target. While basically everyone you think of as a great scorer relies on volume, Icardi is such a good finisher that he can score a ton of goals in a smaller number of shots.

On Tuesday, Tottenham Hotspur learned this the hard way. Spurs scored first in their Champions League match against Inter and looked in control for most of it, until this happened. Icardi — who you’d think Inter would want close to the six-yard box, rather than arriving late — hit this sensational volley from outside the 18.

Inter went on to score another goal from a set piece and beat Tottenham, 2-1.

This fantastic volley was one of only two shots for Icardi in the game. His other attempt was blocked. Inter only got two shots for their superstar striker, and one of them was a completely unconventional attempt, off a late-arriving run to the top of the box when you’d expect him to be challenging the goalkeeper. He scored anyway, and Inter won anyway.

If anyone else pulled this off, you’d call the timing lucky. But Icardi has done stuff like this consistently over the past four years, so he might really be an exception to the rules that govern who’s a good striker and how much of finishing is down to luck. Sucks for Spurs, huh?

*While we’re here, I’d like to remind you that Icardi doesn’t play regularly for Argentina because he started dating Wanda Nora, then Maxi Lopez’s wife, while Icardi and Lopez were teammates. Lopez is one of Lionel Messi’s best friends, so Icardi, who Argentina could have used at the World Cup very badly, has been blackballed from the team. Soccer rules.