Europe

Agony and ecstasy loom as penalty shootouts come into play at World Cup

Football’s cruel mistress — the penalty shootout — arrived at the World Cup after a packed fortnight of group games, ready to dispense her characteristic doses of unbridled joy and heartbreak in the knockout stages.

There has been a penalty shootout at every World Cup since 1982 in Spain, and while it is still a matter of contention whether this is the best way to decide a winner, the post-match shootout is now common at all levels of the game.

But the consequences of failure are nowhere more devastating than at a World Cup, where two previous finals and five semi-finals have been decided by the gut-wrenching lottery of penalties.

Inevitably it is the misses that are best remembered, none more so than Italy’s Roberto Baggio blasting over the bar to hand Brazil the World Cup in 1994 or Chris Waddle with a similarly wild and wayward effort for England in the semi-final four years later.

In all, 26 World Cup clashes have needed penalties to produce a winner, although only twice have they gone past the first stage of five kicks each.

Of the 16 teams in the second round in Russia starting on Saturday, all but four have had past experience of a World Cup shootout.

In the entire World Cup finals history, there have been a total of 240 post-match penalties taken, with 170 of them scored.

Penalty shootouts were first introduced at the 1978 World Cup but were not needed until four years later. Before that, an even more unsatisfactory toss of the coin was used to break the deadlock.

 

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Categories: Europe, News Wire, Sports

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