Things You Need To Know About The Panenka Penalty

In football, the Panenka is a daring penalty kick technique in which the ball is delicately chipped into the back of the net once the goalkeeper has prematurely dived to one side of the goal.

It is attributed to former Czechoslovakia player, Antonin Panenka, who executed it against West Germany in the final of the 1976 European Championship.

Numerous soccer players have attempted the audacious spot kick since.

In this article, FootballOrbit brings all you need to know about the Panenka penalty.

What is the Panenka?

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 after making a run — gives a light touch underneath the ball, causing it to rise and fall within the centre of the goal.

Thus, deceiving the goalkeeper who would have guessed a side and committed to a dive away from the centre.

History of the Panenka?

The technique was invented by Czech player, Antonin Panenka, who introduced it to the world when Czechoslovakia faced West Germany in the final of the 1976 European Championship.

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 4th penalty taker, Uli Hoeness, ballooned his shot over the bar.

With the score 4-3, Panenka stepped up to take the 5th Czechoslovakian penalty to win the match under immense pressure…..

He ran towards the ball and feigned shooting to the side of the goal; causing the West German goalkeeper, Sepp Maier, to dive to his left — and then gently chipped the ball into the middle of the net to claim the title for Czechoslovakia.

The audacity of that trick in such a highly tensioned situation made the penalty one of the most famous ever.

Furthermore, it made Panenka’s name synonymous with that particular style of penalty kick.

“I saw myself as an entertainer and I saw this penalty as a reflection of my personality. I wanted to give the fans something new to see, to create something that would get them talking.”

Antonin Panenka on his famous penalty

After the game, Antonin Panenka was informed that he could have been punished if he had missed. Because it would be seen as deliberately rebelling against the Communist government ruling his country then.

On viewing the penalty; Brazilian legend, Pelé, described Panenka as being “either a genius or a madman”

The Panenka penalty kick is called several names around the world: It is known as Il cucchiaio (“the spoon”) in Italy, cavadinha (“little dig”) in Brazil and penal picado (“poked penalty kick”) in Argentina and elsewhere in South America.

How is the Panenka penalty executed?

Andrea Pirlo Panenka vs England - things you need to know about the Panenka penalty

The aim of the technique is actually not to chip the ball over the goalkeeper, but to take advantage of the fact that most goalkeepers will dive to either side of the goal in anticipation, rather than waiting to see in which direction the ball is going.

So, a player waits for the keeper to dive to a side and then gently chips the ball into the back of the net.

It is a very risky technique, because the subtle touch on the ball gives it a very slow speed, some goalkeepers may quickly 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!

The move is mostly done by confident penalty takers who dare to risk missing the kick.

Which players have used the Panenka penalty?

After its much publicised debut by Antonin Panenka, the kick has been successfully used on rare occasions and mostly by highly respected players who can deal with the consequences of missing such an attempt.

Some of the notable players that have scored with a Panenka penalty are:

¶. Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final against Italy.
¶. Alexis Sánchez in the 2015 Copa América final.
¶. Odsonne Édouard in the 2020 Scottish Cup final.
¶. Sebastián Abreu for Uruguay at 2010 World Cup quarterfinal vs Ghana.
¶. Andrea Pirlo for Italy at Euro 2012 quarter-final vs England.

¶. Karim Benzema for Real Madrid against Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final in 2022.

Benzema — Panenka penalty

¶. Lionel Messi for PSG in the UEFA Champions League vs RB Leipzig (2021).
¶. Sergio Ramos for Real Madrid vs Sevilla in La Liga (2017).
¶. Eden Hazard for Chelsea vs Manchester City in the 2019 Carabao Cup final.
¶. Memphis Depay for Lyon vs Nice in Ligue 1 (2020).
¶. Sergio Aguero for Man City vs Schalke 04 in the 2019 Champions League Round of 16.
¶. Francesco Totti for Italy vs Netherlands at Euro 2000.
¶. Thierry Henry for Arsenal vs Newcastle in the Premier League (2003).

Some players have used the Panenka penalty more than once.

Notable failed Panenka attempts

As with all penalty attempts, not every one is successful.

Former England captain Gary Lineker, infamously failed a Panenka which at the time, would have put him level with Bobby Charlton for the England team’s top scorer.

The missed penalty instead left Lineker one goal behind for the rest of his career.

Also, in the 2019 A-League Grand Final; Perth Glory player, Brendon Santalab, who had scored multiple Panenka penalties previously in his career, woefully missed one against Sydney FC.

During the penalty shoot-out, Santalab took Perth’s third penalty and attempted a Panenka, but the Sydney goalkeeper was expecting it.

The keeper simply stood upright and easily saved the weak kick!

Sydney FC scored their next penalty to win the shootout and the A-League Championship.

Raheem Sterling also terribly failed his Panenka attempt for Manchester City in a Carabao Cup quarterfinal match against Leicester in 2018.

Furthermore, ex-Manchester United striker, Javier Hernandez “Chicharito”, missed a stoppage-time Panenka penalty for LA Galaxy against Kansas City in the MLS this year.

Perhaps the costliest failed Panenka attempt was that of Frenchman, Yann Kermorgant, while playing for Leicester in a 2010 Play-off semi-final against Cardiff — which could have seen the Foxes promoted to the Premier League.

He did not get enough height or power on his effort, which resulted in an easy save for the Cardiff goalkeeper!

Criticism of the Panenka penalty

The Panenka penalty continues to divide opinion, and although it’s a perfectly legal technique; questions over whether it’s direspectful to the opposition always spark debate — especially when it is the winning penalty in a shoot-out.

For the taker, they can be left embarrassed if they miss.

But if the keeper is fooled, then it can be a traumatic experience.

Some players that have used the Panenka kick have been criticized by the media or the opposition and even their team’s members and supporters — especially if they miss it.

Regardless, a perfectly executed Panenka penalty is always a beauty to watch!

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