Penalties. The most heartbreaking way to lose a match. After 120 minutes of blood, sweat and tears, each player gets to decide the fate of his team with the kick of a ball.
This edition of the European Championship saw some horrendous spot kicks and some great saves. Penalties can often win or lose you tournaments in a second and a lot of the time it is considered to be unfair. With Portugal managing to win the Euros with only their third match without penalties, we take a look at some of the worst spot kicks that this tournament has seen over the course of the month.
Round of 16
Germany 1-0 Slovakia
The Germans had taken an early 8th minute lead with a superb goal from Bayern Munich center back Jerome Boateng. 4 minutes later, Slovakia concede a penalty after Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel shoves Mario Gomez in the back, in the penalty box. Ozil stepped up to the spot and sent a tame effort to the bottom left of the Slovak keeper. Bad penalty, great save. Unfortunately, this isn’t the last we see of the Arsenal play maker in this list. However, the game would go on to end 3-0 to the Germans, so Ozil’s miss didn’t come back to haunt him. But given the high standards the Germans set for themselves and their great record at penalties, he wouldn’t have been let off easy in the dressing room and for a shot like that, he shouldn’t have been either.
Portugal (4)1-1(3) Poland
The Borussia Dortmund winger’s penalty was a reflection of his game. It wasn’t his best performance by any means and the former Polish captain ended up being responsible for his nation’s departure from the competition. The 30-year old’s penalty lacked conviction, even if it was struck decently. Rui Patricio made a great save to deny his shot, which was quite similar to that of Ozil’s before this.
Group D encounter
Spain 1-1 Croatia
Why Ramos was chosen to take this penalty in place of Fabregas, we will never know. Sergio Ramos’ penalty record was never the best and one would have to think more than once before betting on the Real Madrid captain’s spot kick abilities. Spain were trying to get back into the game and were lucky to have not conceded a penalty earlier in the match. On 69 minutes, the referee thought that David Silva was tripped in the box, but later replays showed that there was hardly any contact. Everything seemed to be going wrong for the Croatians. But before taking the penalty, Luka Modric seemed to have passed on instructions from the bench to his keeper, telling him which way Ramos was likely to go.
As Ramos swung his right foot in an attempt to send the ball through the middle, Danijel Subasic was so far out his line, it made it almost too easy to save the shot. Nearly 2 yards off his line, something that the referee completely chose to ignore even though he had the best view in the arena. All in all, it was a bad penalty from Ramos and an illegal save from the keeper and just as bad refereeing, something which is unacceptable at such a grand stage.
Group F encounter
Iceland 1-0 Austria
The Austrian defender was tasked with scoring his side’s equaliser after Skulason allegedly fouled David Alaba in the box in the 34th minute. Dragovic stepping up for spot kick duty was a surprise, given that Austria had David Alaba and Arnautovic in their ranks. What wasn’t such a surprise was when the 25-year old defender’s shot rattled the right post and was cleared to safety. His body language was all wrong, his run up lacked conviction and he slammed it on to the post. Had it been on target, the keeper would have had it covered, however, it wasn’t the worst penalty on this list by any means.
Group F encounter
Portugal 0-0 Austria
It was one of his worst performances in a Portugal shirt. Up until recently, Ronaldo was virtually missing throughout Portugal’s European campaign. Against the Austrians, he missed several clear cut chances and wasted opportunities. In the 78th minute, the Portuguese were handed a lifeline after Martin Hinteregger wrapped his arms around Cristiano Ronaldo and dragged him to the ground in the Austrian penalty box.
Real Madrid’s all time top scorer stepped up to try and give the Portuguese the lead, but instead, he hit it low and hard onto the right post, only for it to rebound to a Portuguese player, who launched it into the stands.
Round of 16
Switzerland (1)1-1(1) Poland
Probably one of the worst penalties this competition will ever see. The Arsenal midfielder, with one swing of his left boot, sent the ball into the stands. We hope that the fans/stewards in the way of that badly aimed rocket were able to move out of the way before any significant damage was caused.
The shot didn’t give it any direction, only power. He didn’t lean forward and it was just an extremely lazy kick. Like the commentator said, one of the worst spot kicks you’ll see in an international penalty shootout.
Darmian, Zaza, Pelle; Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Muller
Germany vs Italy
There’s no shame in having a penalty saved by Gianluigi Buffon or Manuel Neuer. When you go up against the best goalkeepers in the world after 120 minutes of football, you could be forgiven if they spectacularly save a shot or two. Now, how good the shot is has a huge role in factoring how great the save was, and most of these saves weren’t spectacular. They were good at best and we’ve grown to expect them from Buffon and Neuer over the course of time.
You could be forgiven for thinking that they were competing to see who could hit the worst penalties and Italy seemed to have come out on top, with 4 people messing up their spot kicks to Germany’s 3.
It started off with Zaza, who sent the ball into the stratosphere after making a run up for which he wasn’t spared on social media. Terrible penalty, arguably the worst in the tournament.
Then the usually reliable Thomas Muller decided to get in on the act and shot one straight at Gianluigi Buffon. It was low, slow and almost disrespectful of the Italian legend, not that he seemed to care.
Ozil, for the second time in the tournament. Too much target practice using the crossbar and the posts aren’t good either.
Graziano Pelle, not to be outdone by Zaza, even seemed to indicate to Neuer that he would chip it. But the big German was having none of it, and he even guessed which way Pelle would go. He shouldn’t even have bothered. The shot was feeble and way off the mark. Had it been on target, Neuer would have saved it anyway.
Schweinsteiger absolutely smashed it over the crossbar and into the upper tiers of the Stadium. Nobody could understand what was going on. Clearly, neither team had seemed to have practiced penalties all that much.
Only Matteo Darmian will know what he was thinking while attempting this. If his run up wasn’t predictable enough, his placement of the ball was even worse. Neuer knew where he was going even before he made contact with the ball, and all the German had to do was fall down sideways. Horrid penalty from the Manchester United fullback.