Sunday, May 20, 2007


The Penalty Curse - brief update

Thank God Didier Drogba finally broke through for Chelsea in last night's crashingly boring FA Cup Final. Not so much because the goal, a good one, gave the game at least one memorable moment, but because the sort of scenario envisaged here was avoided.

It's good to see a respected football pundit devoting some editorial space to the issue of goalkeeper encroachment, which has made the penalty shootout a complete farce in recent times. Of course, Wednesday's UEFA Cup Final was the latest event to be sullied by a sly goalkeeper and a flaccid referee. Gavin Hamilton could have added the Germany v. Argentina quarter-final at last year's World Cup to the list; Jens Lehmann strode cheerfully off his line throughout, to good effect.

But it's a particular relief that Petr Cech was denied the chance to do the same last night. Of all the off-the-line antics that goalkeepers have gotten away with in recent times, none have been more egregious than those of a certain Petr Cech, when the Czech Republic bested France on penalties in the final of a European Under 21 Championship some years ago. By the end of that shootout, the current Chelsea No. 1 was virtually rugby-tackling the kickers before they could get to the ball.

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