7 best Panenkas scored in crucial situations
Lionel Messi’s penalty against Getafe was called the best Panenka by the creator himselfThe Panenka is one of the riskiest penalty techniques in football. It may look like easy work, and might not seem very skilful either, but the nerve required to execute such a penalty is beyond compare. In this technique, the run up to the ball remains the same as any penalty, but instead of kicking the ball directly into the goal trajectory, the player nonchalantly lobs the ball into the middle of the net. The unexpected move will deceive the keeper, and even though the slow speed of the ball gives him a chance to get back into position, he will stand no chance if the panenka is pulled off to perfection.The technique was a logical choice for its creator Antonin Panenka, and when asked about why he used it, he said, “I chose the penalty because I saw and realised it was the easiest and simplest recipe for scoring a goal. It is a simple recipe.” Countless players have tried to duplicate Panenka’s technique, with varying degrees of success. So with that in mind, here are some of the best Panenkas that were scored in high-pressure situations -
#1 Antonin Panenka (Czechoslovakia vs Germany), Euro 1976
The best Panenka penalty will always belong to its creator: Antonin Panenka. The move was named after him after he debuted it for the first time while playing for Czechoslovakia against Germany in the 1976 European Championship final.
He tricked German goalkeeper Sepp Maier to score the final penalty of the 5-3 penalty shootout, which won his nation the title. It was the first penalty shootout that Germany had ever taken part in, and it remains the only time they have ever lost one.
The self-belief and audacity with which he attempted something like that, that too in a final, was incredible.
#2 Francesco Totti (Italy vs Netherlands), Euro 2000 semi-finals
Francesco Totti used the Panenka to beat Edwin van der Sar in Euro 2000 semi-final penalty shootout, after Italy and Netherlands had played out a goalless draw over 120 minutes. On a terrible day for the Dutch that saw them miss two penalties in regulation time and three in the shootout, Totti rubbed some more salt into their wounds by pulling off a magnificent panenka, which sent Italy into the finals.
Totti attempted many of these penalties throughout his career and missed out on a fair share of them as well, but not in this crunch situation.
#3 Zinedine Zidane (France vs Italy), 2006 World Cup final
Zinedine Zidane opened the scoring for France with one of the best Panenka penalties ever during his side’s World Cup final clash against Argentina in 2006.
The Frenchman was playing his last ever professional match and stepped up to take a 7th-minute spot-kick after Florent Malouda was fouled in the box. He sent Buffon the wrong way with a delicate chip through the middle, which struck the underside of the bar and barely crossed the line.
He went on to miss the penalty shoot-out after receiving a red card in the second half, as Italy claimed the World Cup after winning the shoot-out 5-3.
#4 Sebastian Abreu (Uruguay vs Ghana), 2010 World Cup final
Sebastian Abreu aka ‘El Loco’ scored an amazing Panenka against goalkeeper Richard Kingson to break Ghana’s hearts and knock them out of the 2010 World Cup. With many arguing that it was Luis Suarez’s infamous ‘Hand of the Devil’ that got them past extra-time, the coolness with which El Loco dispatched his penalty was a sight to behold.
The Uruguayans won the shoot-out 4-2 and qualified for the semi-finals after the match ended 1-1.
This wasn’t the first time that the Uruguayan striker had scored a panenka for his country, but it was the first time he was on the winning side after he tried it. His brilliant effort against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America semi-finals beat Julio Cesar quite nicely, as they, unfortunately, went on to lose the shoot-out.
#5 Andrea Pirlo (Italy vs England), Euro 2012 quarter-finals
Midfielder Andrea Pirlo’s penalty in Italy’s Euro 2012 quarter-final against England is one of the best known Panenkas in recent times.
He had to take his chance after Montolivo missed his penalty and made no mistake with his effort. The Italian stepped up and lobbed Joe Hart with outrageous confidence, and seemed to stun England in the process. This proved to be vital as England conjured up two misses courtesy Ashley Young and Ashley Cole, to get knocked out on penalties once again, losing 4-2 in the shoot-out.
The maestro has attempted several Panenkas before, but this effort will definitely go down as one of the best of his career.
#6 Omar Abdulrahman (UAE vs Japan), 2015 Asian Cup quarter-final
Omar Abdulrahman of the United Arab Emirates was on song during his team’s quarterfinal match against Japan, as the Emiratis stunned their opponents in the 2015 Asia Cup quarterfinals.
After Keisuke Honda missed the opening spot-kick for Japan, the curly haired playmaker stepped up to take his team’s first penalty in the shoot-out. He pulled off a perfect panenka to set the tone for the upset, which inspired his fellow team-mates to convert their resulting spot-kicks to beat Japan 5-4 on penalties, and send UAE into the semi-finals of the competition.
#7 Alexis Sanchez (Chile vs Argentina), 2015 Copa America final
The most recent Panenka came courtesy Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, who won the 2015 Copa America for his Chile team against Argentina with the last kick of the match. The match went to penalties after two goalless halves and extra time, and after Messi scored Argentina’s first penalty, Higuain and Banega missed their respective efforts to put Chile in the driving seat.
The Chilean calmly dispatched his and Chile’s fourth spot-kick through the middle to give his team a 4-2 win on penalties, as La Roja celebrated their first Copa America title since the inception of the tournament 99 years ago.