The scene was perfectly set in Jamie Carragher’s 737th, and last ever, appearance in a Liverpool shirt. The defender, who has scored as many own goals for Tottenham Hotspur (3) than strikes at the right end for the Reds in the Premier League, saw his 30 yard effort cannon off the post in what would have been a fitting end for the 35-year-old, especially with the shot itself coming in front of the famous Kop end at Anfield.
It would’ve been Liverpool’s 41st goal of 2013, with the 40 they’ve netted since January 1st representing the highest in the Premier League this calendar year, with Chelsea and United, on 36, coming closest to the Merseyside outfit.
It was perhaps poetic for the club, who had struck the woodwork 33 times over the entirety of the 2011/12 season. While that figure may’ve dropped to just 19 this season, it’s no surprise to have seen the club score more goals this season (67) in comparison to last (42).
Much of that has been down to the goalscoring prolificacy of striker Luis Suarez who, despite missing the last four games of the season having been suspended for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, netted 23 times this season - 34.3% of Liverpool’s Premier League total.
However, when compared to last term, the Uruguay international only found the net 11 times and while he’s only hit the post six times this season compared to the eight last year, the improvement in shot accuracy for both the club and player is evident, and further highlighted by the fact that Suarez only missed 14 big chances this season compared to 21 last.
While Liverpool’s tendency to strike the woodwork was notable this season, the 19 times they’ve hit the post or bar pales in comparison to that of Real Madrid, who've hit the woodwork 27 times - a high across Europe’s top five leagues.
That figure has come from the 680 shots Los Blancos have had all season, the fourth highest in Europe behind Liverpool (739), Juventus (699) and Spurs (681), with Jose Mourinho’s side striking the woodwork every 25 shots on goal.
Yet, while the aforementioned teams have had the most shots across Europe’s top five leagues this season, only one secured domestic glory this term - Juventus, having landed their second successive Scudetto.
When it comes to hitting the woodwork, however, two of the top three teams to have struck the post or crossbar are Barcelona (26) and Manchester United (24), with both winning their respective league this season. However, the next highest placing trophy winners
are Juventus and Bayern Munich, who are level, on 17.
Paris Saint-Germain's figure drops even lower, with the Parisian side hitting the woodwork only 14 times this term. Perhaps most interestingly, only one of the champions of Europe’s top five leagues - Juventus - have had more than 600 shots this season, with PSG (501) firing away the fewest.
However, having scored just 63 Ligue 1 goals this season, they fall way below Barcelona’s record of 109 goals from only 507 shots, a return of 21.4%. Nevertheless, in striking the woodwork with 5.1% of their efforts on goal, Barca do so almost twice as frequently as PSG, with 2.7% of their shots hitting the post or crossbar.
That percentage is only bettered by Juventus, with the Bianconeri hitting the woodwork with just 2.4% of their efforts on goal, although having had 198 more shots more than their French counterparts, it’s no surprise to have seen them convert only 10.1% of their 699 shots, a figure lower than PSG’s 13.1%, with both trumped by United (15.3%) and Bayern (16.8%).
Either way, while the aforementioned quintet have secured domestic glory in their respective leagues this season, the fact that six teams - Everton (21), Athletic Bilbao (20), Liverpool (19), Fulham (19), Napoli (18) and Freiburg (18) - have struck the woodwork more times than Juventus, Bayern and PSG, but failed to attain any form of silverware this season is somewhat telling.
Of the six teams mentioned, it was Napoli that came closest to usurping Juventus at the summit of Serie A, finishing nine points behind Antonio Conte’s side, despite netting more times (72) from less shots (579) to boast a superior conversion rate of 12.4%.
Edinson Cavani struck the woodwork the most times in Serie A this season, having done so eight times, while only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (both 11) have seen more efforts hit the woodwork than the Uruguayan across Europe's top 5 leagues.
With Francesco Totti, Robin van Persie and Romelu Lukaku each hitting the post or bar on seven separate occasions, they make up the top six players to have hit the woodwork this season in Europe. It’s particularly telling that only two of the six - Messi and van Persie - have picked up silverware this term, though Totti could join them should Roma overcome Lazio in the Coppa Italia final this coming weekend.
Furthermore, a particularly pertinent point is that Messi and van Persie play for Barcelona and Manchester United - two of three teams to have struck the woodwork the most this season, behind Real Madrid.
When factoring in that the pairing are also their respective teams’ top goalscorer this year, it indicates that striking the woodwork more often than not can lead to further domestic success for both the team and individual, providing a player is able to find the back of the net on a regular basis to reinforce their striking credentials.
However, should a team or individual consistently strike the woodwork, yet be unable to back up their capabilities with goals, it’s evident that success isn’t guaranteed, as highlighted by the likes of Real Madrid and Napoli, who could only muster a second place finish in the Primera Division and Serie A, respectively.