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My top six penalty misses

David ClarkeIt’ll sson be Euro 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine and that usually heralds a whole load of penalties – here’s my six top penalty misses in all competitions.

John Terry, CHELSEA v Manchester Utd (Champions League Final 2008)

After a 1-1 draw on the night, Cristiano Ronaldo missed his spot-kick to put Chelsea within touching distance of the trophy, but his crucial slip sent the ball crashing against the outside of the post, leaving the England international on the floor and in tears.

Lionel Messi, BARCELONA v Chelsea (Champions League Semi-Final 20120)

Barcelona started the second half 2-1 up but Chelsea were down to 10 men. Messi had the chance to gain the psychological advantage but hit the bar and Chelsea went on win the game.

Denis Bergkamp, ARSENAL v Manchester Utd (FA Cup Semi-Final replay 1999)

Bergkamp could have won the game with a last minute penalty. The match was notable for a disallowed Arsenal goal, the sending-off of Manchester Utd’s Roy Keane for a second bookable offence, a last-minute penalty save by Peter Schmeichel, and finally and most memorably a winning goal by Ryan Giggs, intercepting a pass near the half way line, before taking the ball past five Arsenal defenders and scoring past goalkeeper David Seaman.

Ruud van Nistelrooy MANCHESTER UNITED v Arsenal (Premier League 2003/04)

With the scores level at 0-0, United were given a controversial penalty in injury-time after Patrick Vieira had earlier seen red for a kick-out at Van Nistelrooy, but the Dutch striker made it three consecutive misses from the spot after he rattled the underside of the crossbar.

Gareth Southgate, ENGLAND v Germany (Semi-Final Euro’ 96)

After Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle failed at Italia ’90, it fell to Southgate to end the hopes of the Three Lions on home soil six years later, as football ‘came home’ but then swiftly left for Germany on penalties.

Roberto Baggio, Brazil v ITALY (World Cup Final 1994)

The first World Cup final to be decided on penalties, it was a moment that would define Baggio’s career despite some of the great things he achieved for both club and country.


Take your time – my tips for young penalty takers

By Dave Clarke

David ClarkeThere is no reason for it, but how often do you see players who are scoring freely for the team run up and miss the penalty? It happens a lot in youth soccer, but it also afflicts the professionals.

Sometimes it’s the whole team that can’t score. Leeds United have missed 8 of their last 9 penalties using different players. Their leading score got 33 goals from open play but couldn’t score when put on the spot, this included a vital penalty in the play-off final against Millwall which Leeds went on to lose – watch the penalty below.

Penalties should be money in the bank, unless the goalkeeper makes an outstanding save players shouldn’t miss.

But now researchers think they may have an explanation for why the players miss them. A study shows players who ‘rush’ penalties have the biggest failure rate. Those who respond fastest to the referee’s whistle are much more likely to miss than players who pause briefly before starting their run up.

To work out why some players miss, researchers from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences studied the time it took players to complete a kick. They found those who started their run up less than two milliseconds after the referees’s whistle scored only around 57 per cent of the time. A millisecond is one thousandth of a second. But those who took more than a second to respond hit the back of the net more than 80 per cent of the time.

Psychologists call this phenomenon ‘self-regulatory breakdown’. It is a natural form of human behaviour, where someone feels such intense distress from a situation that they do whatever they possibly can to end it _ even if it is harmful to their performance.

So according to the scientists it’s that easy. Take your time…

Tell this to your players it may help them to know that even the professionals are scared when they have to take one.

This is my penalty advice:
SCJUNIOR_gamble top corner

  • Keep it simple
  • Tell them to make up your mind early which spot of the goal they’re going to shoot at – and stick to it. Ideally take four to six steps in the run-up
  • Disguise their intentions – for example, approach the ball as if aiming for one corner but strike the ball to the opposite corner
  • Head down, eyes on the ball when taking the shot
  • Body over the ball and non-kicking foot alongside to keep the shot under the bar
  • Whether high or low, aim for the corners – a ball struck with enough pace will be unsaveable
  • Hit the target – miss the goal completely and there’s no possibility of a rebound for the penalty taker or their team-mates

Watch this great penalty into the top corner by Digeo Forlan in the last minute of the Equador/Uruguay World Cup Qualifier. He had to score to keep Uruguay’s World Cup hopes alive. See where he puts the ball then watch these penalty misses, Beckford for Leeds and Robert Pires tries to be clever with Thierry Henry and causes a mix up for Arsenal:

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