While many might consider it to be the easiest thing to do in a game of soccer, the truth is that scoring a penalty requires the player to have both composure and confidence in equal measure. Some of the greatest players in the world, right from Roberto Baggio to Dennis Bergkamp to John Terry, have wilted under pressure and failed to score from the spot on crucial occasions.
Soccernews.com lists the best ever goals scored from twelve yards out.
1.) Antonin Panenka- Czech Republic vs West Germany (Euro 1976 final)
It takes some guts to do what Panenka did, especially when you have been entrusted with the responsibility of scoring a penalty that can win your team the European Championship.
With Czechoslovakia leading 4-3 in the shootout, Bayern legend Uli Hoeneß made a hash of his spot kick by skying it over the bar. Panenka stepped up next, and executed a wonderful little chip that made a complete mockery of opposition keeper Sepp Maier’s dive. His name has now been immortalised in the history books and has inspired countless others such as France’s Zinedine Zidane (see Number 5) and Catania’s Giuseppe Mascara.
Audacity, thy name is Panenka!!!
2.) Francesco Totti
Although this cheeky backheeled penalty from Il Capitano was scored in a Roma practice session, it has done enough to merit a place among the game’s best penalties.
3.) Kevin Pressman (Sheffield Wednesday against Wolverhampton Wanderers- 1995)
Some penalties are all about finesse, but this one was all about raw power.
Wednesday keeper Kevin Pressman takes the third penalty in the shootout for his side and hits it with such venom that his opposite number does not stand a chance. As the commentator puts it, Wolves could have had two goalkeepers standing there and they would still not be able to do anything to stop Pressman. Unfortunately for Pressman, Wednesday somehow managed to squander a 3-0 lead in the shootout and ended up losing 4-3.
4.) Johann Cruyff and Jesper Olsen (Ajax Amsterdam vs Helmond Sport- 1982)
This penalty gets full marks for sheer originality.
With the match already in Ajax’s pocket, Cruyff decides to venture into unchartered territory with this penalty. He passes the ball to Jesper Olsen, who returns the favour, and then shoots into an empty net.
Perfectly legal and not offside as Cruyff is behind the ball when he receives Olsen’s pass.
It has been replicated with success in some situations ( Hisako Sato and Tomoaki Marino for Sanfrecce Hiroshima against Pohang Steelers) and embarrassment in others ( remember Robert Pires and Thierry Henry’s goofup against Manchester City?)
5.) Zinedine Zidane (France vs Italy- World Cup 2006 Final)
The 2006 World Cup final will always be remembered for two Zinedine Zidane moments. One was obviously him headbutting Marco Materazzi. The other was Zidane doing a Panenka while scoring the opening goal.
The attempt nearly backfired but the ball hit the underside of the crossbar and went over the line. However you can bet that for a few seconds, Zizou would have had his heart in his mouth.
Watch “La Panenka de Zidane” below
6.) Andreas Brehme (1990 World Cup Final- West Germany vs Argentina)
German defender Andreas Brehme was equally gifted with both feet, making it more difficult for opposition keepers to decide which way to dive.
Four years after shooting down Mexico with his left foot, Brehme strikes one right footed to end Argentina’s dreams of defending their World Cup title. In the process, he also gave Franz Beckenbauer the rare honour of winning the World Cup as both player and manager.
Big game performers are worth their weight in gold, and Brehme was certainly one!!!
7.) Stuart Pearce (England vs Spain- quarterfinals of Euro 1996)
Psycho exorcised the ghosts of his 1990 miss against West Germany by smacking this one into the bottom corner against Spain.
More than the penalty, Pearce is remembered for his ensuing celebrations- you could see a gamut of emotions reflected on his face.
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