Panenka (penalty kick)

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In association football, the Panenka is a technique used while taking a penalty kick in which the taker, instead of kicking the ball to the left or right of the goalkeeper, gives a light touch underneath the ball, causing it to rise and fall within the centre of the goal, deceiving the goalkeeper who is counted on by the taker to have guessed a side and committed a dive away from the centre. It was first believed to have been used by Czech player Antonín Panenka, who introduced this technique to the world in the 1976 UEFA European Championship final, when he beat West German goalkeeper Sepp Maier to claim the title for the Czechoslovakian national team.[1][2] However it is now believed to have been pioneered by Manchester City and Wales forward Billy Meredith 70 years earlier.[3] After its sensational debut in the tournament, the Panenka kick has been used on rare occasions and mostly by highly respected players who can deal with the consequences of missing such an attempt.[4][5] This style of penalty kick is also called Il cucchiaio ("the spoon") in the Italian-speaking world,[6] cavadinha ("little dig") in Brazil and penal picado ("poked penalty kick") in Argentina and elsewhere in South America.[7]


The aim of the technique is not to chip the ball over the goalkeeper, but to take advantage of the fact that many goalkeepers will dive to either side of the goal in anticipation, rather than waiting to see in which direction the ball is going. It is a very risky technique, because the subtle touch on the ball gives it a very slow speed, thus allowing the goalkeeper to move back from where they jumped, or even to simply remain in the same spot and wait for the ball to fall easily into their hands. In addition, the subtle touch is most easily applied by a taker who slows down as he/she is about to strike the ball, making it possible for the goalkeeper to recognize what the taker is intending. The move is known for only being used by confident penalty takers who dare to risk missing the kick.[4] Some players that have used the Panenka kick have been criticized by the specialized media or their team's members and supporters, especially if they miss it.[8]


Panenka in 2013. His original penalty technique has been imitated by many other players.

The original penalty[edit]

Antonín Panenka came to international prominence playing for Czechoslovakia in the 1976 European Championship; Czechoslovakia reached the final, where they faced West Germany. After extra time, the result was 2–2, and so the first penalty shootout in a European Championships final ensued. The first seven kicks were converted, until West Germany's fourth penalty taker, Uli Hoeneß, ballooned his shot over the bar. With the score 4–3, Panenka stepped up to take the fifth Czechoslovakian penalty, to win the match under immense pressure. He feigned shooting to the side of the goal, causing West German goalkeeper Sepp Maier to dive to his left, and then gently chipped the ball into the middle of the net.[9] The perceived impudence of the shot, in addition to its success, led a watching French journalist to dub Panenka "a poet", and his winning kick is one of the most famous ever, making Panenka's name synonymous with that particular style of penalty kick.[10]

Since 1976[edit]

As well as winning the 1976 European Championship, Panenka helped Czechoslovakia come third in the 1980 tournament, after scoring once again in a 9–8 penalty shootout win.[11] In the finals of the 1982 World Cup, Panenka scored twice with penalties, but these were the only Czechoslovakian goals, and the team did not progress beyond the first group stage.[12][13]

The Panenka penalty has since been successfully performed by many other players, such as Francesco Totti at the UEFA Euro 2000 semi-final, Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final,[10] Sebastian Abreu in the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter-final, Andrea Pirlo at UEFA Euro 2012 quarter-final,[14][15] Lionel Messi in a 2015 La Liga match against Getafe, and Alexis Sánchez both in the 2015 Copa América Final and in an Arsenal 2–1 win over Burnley in the Premier League (EPL); Sánchez is the second player to win a major tournament with the Panenka.[16] The penalty has also since been successfully duplicated by Gonzalo Pineda in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup,[10] Younis Mahmoud[17] and Omar Abdulrahman in the 2015 Asian Cup, Sergio Ramos at Euro 2012 and in Euro 2016 qualifying,[10] Hélder Postiga at Euro 2004,[10] John Stones against Juventus at the 2013 International Champions Cup,[18][19] Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo in their first games for Toronto FC,[20][10] Memphis Depay in a 2018 UEFA Nations League match,[21] and Sofiane Diop in a 2018–19 Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final penalty shoot-out vs Stade Rennais FC.[22]

Indian striker Sunil Chhetri did it multiple times, in 2015 ISL against NorthEast United FC,[23][24] in 2017 AFC Cup inter-zonal semi-final against April 25 SC,[25][26] in 2017−18 ISL semi-final against FC Pune City,[27][24] and in 2019 Intercontinental Cup against Tajikistan.[28][29][30]

Some notable players who have tried the kick unsuccessfully include Brendon Santalab,[31] Neymar,[10] Mickaël Landreau,[10]Rogério Ceni,[10] Maicosuel,[32] Raheem Sterling,[33] Marko Dević, Graham Zusi, Robin van Persie, Cristiano Ronaldo,[34] Antonio Cassano and Alexandre Pato.[35][36]

Two players have converted Panenka penalties in important matches in the same stadium where Antonín Panenka first executed it, the Red Star Stadium in Belgrade, both claiming after the match that they were unaware of the stadium's history in this regard. Aaron Ramsey of Wales did this in a World Cup qualifier on 11 June 2017.[37] Copenhagen striker Jonas Wind did it on 6 August 2019, in his side's 1–1 draw at Red Star Belgrade in the first leg of the third qualifying round of the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League.[38]

On 7 October 2017, Jozy Altidore of the United States converted a Panenka in a 2018 World Cup qualification match against Panama, the first such attempt in United States history.[39] On 2 December 2017, Antonín Panenka's 69th birthday, Chelsea player Eden Hazard scored a Panenka penalty in a 3–1 home win over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.[40]

On 23 October 2019, Alejandro Pozuelo scored twice in a 2–1 win over New York City FC in the MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference semi-finals, including a 90th minute Panenka-style penalty kick, which was his third of the campaign in that fashion.[41][42]

On 1 July 2020 Lionel Messi scored his 700th career goal against Atlético Madrid with a Panenka penalty.[43]

On 20 December 2020, Odsonne Édouard scored a Panenka penalty in the 2020 Scottish Cup final, to put Celtic 2-0 ahead against Hearts.[44]


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