Abreu, Riquelme, Zidane….and Antonin Panenka

I watched the Argentina-Mexico game last night in Maracaibo with some Argentine and Mexican colleagues and after Riquelme’s chipped penalty and we got to talking about the inevitable – how one day a goalkeeper is going to stand still and the penalty taker will end up looking like a fool.

The Mexican colleague told us it already happened in Mexico, and believe it or not to Sebastian Abreu, the same man who successfully tried the stunt against Brazil the night before last.

Apparently Abreu, who played for Monterrey, tried to chip in a penalty against Chiapas and the keeper stood his ground. (Unfortunately we can’t find any video of it.) Abreu looked like an idiot but they don’t call him El Loco Abreu for nothing and he wasn’t afraid to try it again on a much larger stage on Tuesday night. (What cojones!)

We also got to talking about the origins of such cheeky penalties. The first guy we can ever remember pulling it off, or even trying it, was Antonin Panenka, who beat the great Sepp Maier in the penalty decider of the 1976 European Championship.

Back then it was a novelty. Now it seems to be gaining in popularity. Riquelme’s last night was lovely, as was Abreu’s against Brazil.

But goalkeepers or goalkeeping coaches would do well to follow the lead of German keeper Jens Lehmann, who researched how opponents hit their penalties. That research helped him keep out the Argentines in the quarter finals last year.

Of course, the way to beat even that system is to do it a la Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup final and not chip it into the middle of the goal but into the top corner. Like this.

If anyone else has stories of particularly special Panenkas – or even better, unsuccessful ones – then drop us a line. We’d love to hear them.



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7 responses to “Abreu, Riquelme, Zidane….and Antonin Panenka

  1. Alex K

    great mini soccer lesson, i didn’t even know those chip pk’s had a name! panenkas.

  2. Jesse G.

    It’s unrealy that Panenkas has the cojones to do that with the Euro Championship on the line. Talk about nerve.

  3. FrankTheTank

    This one is great:

    Not so much a chip as a dribble by Portugal’s Helder Postiga to humiliate England’s David James in the 2004 European Championship. You can see Deco’s amazement at the audacity right afterwards.

    Must have been sweet for Postiga as he left England after an unsuccessful spell at Spurs pretty much universally derided as a football reject.

  4. Roberto

    Hi Andrew, great stuff from Venezuela. Francesco Totti has tried and scored a few chippies, a memorable one against Edwin van Der Sar in the Euro 2000 semifinals shoot-out against hosts Holland, when on leaving the centre circle he told his teammates he was going to do a “spoon” (memorably, in Roman lingo, “mo je faccio er cucchiaio”, “now I am gonna do them the spoon”). He had one saved by a goalkeeper, possibly Sicignano or Chimenti, a couple of years ago in the serie A, but went for the sure method in the injury time penalty against Australia in the World Cup last year.

  5. Roberto

    Here’s Totti’s missed chip, in 2004, Sicignano was indeed the keeper: the video has been removed from YouTube but you can see the picture at http://www.fanlager.de/internationaler-fussball/totti-3-2617.html.
    A collection of ‘cucchiai’ can be found at
    Check out the running chip against Inter at

  6. Nice one Roberto! Or nice three!

  7. Marty

    Yeah, Helder Postiga’s was the best one, that one wasn’t even in the air, it’s really hard to describe it. If he had missed Portugal would have been eliminated from their own tournament (Euro 2004 in Portugal) and the entire country would have shunned him. Supposedly the no-nonsense Costinha berated him for the chip immediately after the match. (Maybe it says something about Deco’s and Costinha’s personalities by their differing reactions to the penalty and the arty vs. defensive midfield positions they each play in.)

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