The 5 best penalty shootouts at the Euros are:
- Czechoslovakia 5-3 West Germany Euro (1976)
- Netherlands 1-3 Italy Euro (2000)
- Portugal 6-5 England (Euro 2004)
- England 5-6 Germany (Euro 1996)
- Portugal 2-4 Spain (Euro 2012)
The penalty shoot-out is one of the most dreaded events in football tournaments. Except one is neutral, with little or no affiliations with the teams playing, you never want that time to come- not the players who can go from outstanding during 90 minutes/extra time to outright failures in seconds or the coaches whose jobs could go from safe to tentative. A lot of things come into play at that moment before the player hits the ball: the nerves, the self-confidence and more times than normal, the luck.
Like one of the most successful coaches in European competitions, Unai Emery said after his Villarreal team won the UEFA Europa League via a penalty shootout: “Penalties are not a lottery but they are the moment.”
“Penalties are not a lottery but they are the moment.”— Unai Emery
His team had scored 11 penalties against Manchester United without practising. Meanwhile, when he was coaching at Almeria, one of his players had missed a penalty in a friendly match after consistent practice.
There’s also the never-ending debate of what the best kind of penalty is. Picking a spot and hitting firmly or striking after the keeper makes the move? The most acceptable answer is ensuring that the ball goes in. In other words, if the penalty is scored, it’s the best one.
The UEFA Euro 2020 takes centre stage this weekend. It is almost inevitable that there will be penalty shootouts after the group stage matches.
Let’s relive the best five penalty shootouts of the Euros.
Czechoslovakia 5-3 West Germany– (Euro 1976)
It was in 1976. It was the first time a major international football tournament final would go to penalties. The players had been informed of this development too. Hence, they weren’t expecting a two-legged final.
West Germany were the defending champions. However, they began the game really poorly. Jan Svehlik got the opener for Czechoslovakia and Karol Dobias doubled the lead.
The Germans were stunned. Indeed, they rallied back and Dietter Muller pulled one back three minutes after the second goal with an acrobatic volley. Just when it seemed like the World champions were going to be European champions as well, especially with goalkeeper, Ivo Viktor in outstanding form- stopping every shot that came his way, Bernd Holzenbein struck. Not with his leg, but his head- from a corner. It was tied at 2-2 and the tie was headed for extra time.
They couldn’t be separated in extra time. A penalty shootout was imminent. Seven penalties were taken and scored. Uli Hoeness was next for West Germany. He outrightly aimed for the sky and the pressure was now on 27-year-old Czechoslovakian Antonin Panenka. If he scored, Czechoslovakia would be the winners. He did but in the most audacious and flamboyant manner. He waited for the keeper to move before chipping down the middle.
Panenka would go on to joke about patenting his penalty. The side-effect of that style of penalty was extra body weight gained. The midfielder had been on a long-term bet of chocolates with his goalkeeper during training for penalties.
Netherlands 1-3 Italy Euro (2000)
On the balance of the overall play, the Netherlands deserved to go through. That’s how dominant they were on the night. They dominated the possession and chances but one man, Toldo or maybe two if FrancescoTotti’s penalty in the shoot-out is included.
From the third minute, it had been the Oranje boys testing the goalkeeper. To make matters worse for the Italians, Gianluca Zambrotta was shown a second yellow card. It was the start of incessant pressure by the Dutch. Four minutes later, Frank de Boer found himself 12 yards and alone with Toldo. They had been awarded a penalty. He missed!
The Netherlands were given another penalty. Patrick Kluivert took responsibility and missed. He hit the post. It was evident that everything was going against them.
Then it came to penalties. Italy couldn’t even be confident. They had lost out on penalty shootout in the previous three World Cups since 1999.
Frank de Boer missed. Two other Dutch players too. Di Biagio and Gianluca Pessoto made it 2-0 for Italy. It was time for Totti to take his. He then signified to his teammates that he was opting for the Panenka. The Roma forward had told Pablo Nesta that he would try it someday. He always did it during video games. He wasn’t going to be an “All talk” like he said in his biography. He chipped it down the middle. Toldo saved one more penalty and Italy were through to the final- their first since 1968.
Portugal 6-5 England (Euro 2004)
Michael Owen had given the Three Lions the lead as early as the third minute. Six minutes before stoppage time, Helder Postiga scored the equaliser. The Portuguese had scored just two goals all season. England had put everyone behind the ball but Postiga’s header, well, shoulder restored parity. Sol Campbell almost gave England a last-gasp winner but his header crashed against the crossbar.
Rui Costa completes the comeback with a fierce effort from 20 yards but it only lasts five minutes because Frank Lampard scored to make it 2-2.
Then, it was time for the penalty shootout. David Beckham steps and sends his into the stands. Deco scores for Portugal. Owen and Lampard hit theirs straight down the middle only for Rui Costa to miss. It’s now 2-2.
John Terry and Owen Hargreaves both score as Cristiano Ronaldo and Maniche find the net. It’s 4-4.
Five penalties were taken- time for sudden death! Ashely Cole scores, same for Helder Postiga. Darrius Vassel’s penalty is saved for England by Ricardo without the aid of gloves. A Selecao goalkeeper, Ricardo has to score and they win. He does and Portugal are through to the final.
England 5-6 Germany (Euro 1996)
16 minutes into the game and it was 1-1. Alan Shearer had put England in the lead with a simple unmarked finish before Stefan Kuntz equalised for Germany.
In truth, both teams struggled to create chances in regulation time. However, it sprung into life in extra time. Darren Anderton hit the post before Kuntz’s goal from a corner was disallowed for a foul on Gareth Southgate in the build-up. Marco Bode also saw his effort cleared off the line by Tom Ince.
The tie would be settled on penalties. Shearer scores the first as well as Thomas Hassler for Germany. David Platt and Stuart Pearce made it three for England while Thomas Strunz and Stefan Reuter did similarly for the Mannschaft.
The first 10 penalties were perfect until Southgate stepped up to take his. The keeper guesses right and dives to the right. It’s 5-5. Andreas Moller only has to score and Germany are through to the final. He does and proceeds to mimic Paul Gascoigne’s peacock celebration.
Portugal 2-4 Spain (Euro 2012)
Spain were at the peak of their powers. It was their Golden generation and they were living up to the hype.
La Roja were the defending Champions and had won the World Cup two years later. However, Portugal paid them no respect. In the eyes of many, A Selecao were the better team on the balance of play.
90 minutes could not separate them. Extra-time couldn’t. It had to go to penalties.
Joao Moutinho and Xabi Alonso missed the first round of penalties for Portugal and Spain respectively. Then, Andres Iniesta and Pepe scored to make it 1-1. Gerard Pique and Nani did similar afterwards.
Sergio Ramos produced a Panenka to make it 3-2. Bruno Alves was next for Portugal but his effort crashed against the crossbar. Cesc Fabregas made it 4-2 to help Spain advance to the final.
One fascinating thing about the shoot-out was the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. He was billed to take the fifth penalty but they never got one.
Portugal had gotten their order wrong.