Football vocabulary exercise - Level 3 (upper-intermediate +)


Exercise designed by Viv Quarry (


Match the words to their meanings in English. The first one has been done for you.


1. put it in the back of the net


to change direction of play and pass the ball from one side of the pitch to the other.


2. man on!


a shout to encourage a player to play a long ball into the penalty area

3. a nutmeg


referring to a team whose players showed a lot of determination and fought very hard during a match

4. bang it in the mixer!


referring to a team that can switch quickly from defence to attack and score goals in that way

5. we was robbed


this means the goalkeeper made a very basic mistake (and probably let in a goal)

6. sb's got a sweet left foot


referring to a well-placed, controlled shot from a scoring position that ends in a goal.

7. sb pulled off a great save


referring to a team that defends with all the players and is not very interested in scoring goals.

8. they hit the woodwork


shout during a football match to warn a team-mate that a player of the other team is right behind. Often a call to pass the ball quickly

9. they got stuck in


referring to an attacking player who made the defence work very hard and made the defenders look uncomfortable or unprofessional

10. sb ran the defence ragged


an often admiring reference to a style of football in which a team can pass the ball quickly from one player to another

11. sb's got a lot of pace


an often disapproving reference to a style of football in which a team prefers to play long balls in the hope that an attacking player will get them and score

12. the goalkeeper made a howler


a trick or technique in which a player passes the ball through an opponentís legs and then collects it from the other side.

13. to switch play


referring to a very strong, quick or acrobatic stop of a shot by the goalkeeper

14. sb made a nuisance of herself/himself


referring to a player who is very skilful at kicking the ball with her/his left foot (the majority of footballers play with their right foot)

15. itís a game of two halves


this means a player was unable to control the ball (or pass) with his or her first touch and as a result lost precious time or even possession

16. one-touch football


to score a goal

17. the long-ball game


this player is very fast

18. keep possession


to be able to keep the ball and prevent the opposing team from touching it.

19. they are dangerous on the counter-attack


an expression referring to the fact that a football match can change unexpectedly over 90 minutes, and between the first half and second half of the match

20. put eleven men behind the ball


referring to a player, normally a striker, who fought very hard and used his physical presence to put the defenders under pressure

21. send the keeper the wrong way


refers to the way in which a player can fool the goalkeeper and pretend to shoot at one side of the goal while the ball goes in another direction.

22. a clinical finish


an expression to signal that a defeat was unjust, possibly due to an injustice committed by somebody else.

23. his/her first touch let him/her down


This expression means a team kicked the ball against the crossbar or post and was very unlucky not to score

24. they are strong in the air


referring to a team that has a lot of (tall) players who can head the ball very well.


Level 1 exercise (pre-intermediate -)


Level 2 exercise (intermediate)


BBC football vocabulary web page.