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Penalty heartbreak beckons Fabio Capello’s unlucky England

| 26.05.2010

England’s propensity for penalty shoot-out heartbreak is well known. Since their first loss to West Germany in the 1990 World Cup semi-final they have been knocked out of major tournaments on penalties four more times, most recently succumbing to a 3-1 defeat to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final.

It’s been reported that the only consistent thing about Fabio Capello’s pre-tournament training sessions is his demand for penalties to be practised, but the same was said about Sven Goran Eriksson and he oversaw two defeats by those very means during his five-year tenure.

Such is England’s magnetism to the cruellest of exit methods, a bet on history repeating itself is worth a look at 3/1. Indeed, of the likely squad no potential taker has an unblemished record.

Frank Lampard scored 10 penalties for Chelsea this season but pulled his effort in the FA Cup final against David James wide. On the international stage Lampard scored against Portugal at Euro 2004 but missed against the same opposition two years later.

Steven Gerrard, Liverpool’s regular penalty taker, missed in the 2006 shoot-out and has recently said the pressure of the occasion “got to him”. Wayne Rooney has become Manchester United’s penalty taker since Ronaldo’s departure and has scored all but one of his penalties this season, needing a rebound to convert against Liverpool’s Pepe Reina.

Not a regular take, John Terry did convert from 12 yards at Euro 2004, but perhaps more famously he missed from the same mark in the 2008 Champions League Final, while Jamie Carragher has certainly not been recalled for his penalty taking, having missed in 2006.

There is one glimmer of hope though; Ashley Cole has a surprisingly great record with penalties having scored in both England’s unsuccessful 2004 shoot-out and Arsenal’s winning 2005 FA Cup Final dead-ball drama.

What does seem certain is that a penalty shoot-out will take place in South Africa; we’ve had at least one in every single European championship and World Cup tournament since Italia 1990. And form suggests it will most likely take place at the quarter-final stage; of the last five World Cups six shoot-outs have taken place during the fight to the last four.

Will England suffer from 12 yards again? They’re 3/1 to get knocked out via a penalty shoot-out.



John Klee