The shots on target rule is one of the most complex in the game, but it is one that people believe to be relatively simple. According to bookmakers and statistical organisations, the rule for a shot on target is not as simple as striking the ball towards goal.
OPTA state that a shot on target is defined as “a clear attempt to score that would have gone into the net but for it being saved by the goalkeeper or is stopped by a player who is the last man with the goalkeeper having no chance of preventing the goal (last line block)”.
To put this into perspective, if Cristiano Ronaldo shoots and the shot is initially going off target and the shot is deflected into the goal, Ronaldo will not register a shot on target and it will go down as a goal from the person whom it last came off. Furthermore, blocked shots by other players also do not register as shots on target, unless that person is the last man in the defence. This means if Ronaldo shoots from range and it is blocked by a midfielder who has his defenders behind him, he will not get a shot on target. On the other hand, if Ronaldo shoots and the last line of defence blocks it, he will.
A similar situation occurs for when involving the woodwork. If the player hits the woodwork (bar or post) and it bounces out, this won’t count as a shot on target. However, if a shot hits the woodwork and then goes in as a goal, this will count as a shot on target. For example, James Rodriguez’s volley for Colombia against Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup is a shot on target, but Frank Lampard’s strike against Germany at the 2010 World Cup wasn’t, as it didn’t count as a goal.
It is also important to know what a shot off target. OPTA state a shot off target is a shot which “would have gone over or wide of the goal but for being stopped by a goalkeeper's save or by an outfield player”.
To conclude, efforts that are blocked by their own teammate is registered as a shot, as this is not a defensive block and could be regarded as a pass. On the other hand, a clearance off the line by the opposition is registered as a shot on target and anything blocked by the last line of defence by the opposition is a shot on target.