The best penalty taker

Tense football fans

Euro 2012: the international head rubbing contest. Entrant at the front fell at the first hurdle

When a game ends in penalties it is seriously tense.

So much has gone into the match and it has come down to a make or break situation. The narrowest of margins separates glory and heart-break – being in the history books as a winner or sorrowful loser.

Being English, penalties against Portugal have undone us many a time in major football tournaments and that has been tough. Why couldn’t we just do all our penalties like this?! That would trick ’em:

Penalty kick gif

But it’s not only footballers who have to decide matches on penalties – ice hockey has a brilliant penalty system which is much more about trickery and deception than football.

In ice hockey there are plenty of good penalty takers but I was impressed by one T. J. Oshie in the recent Olympic group stage penalties between Russia and the USA.

TJ Oshie

Penalties in Olympic ice hockey work in an interesting way: 3 penalties are taken by each side and if no clear winner arises from those 3, then they go to sudden death. For the first 3 penalties they must choose 3 different individuals to take them, but the sudden death penalties can be taken by the same person.

Most teams will rotate their penalty takers once they get to sudden death, ensuring the opposing goalie doesn’t get the measure of the penalty taker.

But the USA, they loved T.J. Oshie – he ended up taking 6 penalties in their game against Russia. Of those 6 he scored 4 – the entirety of the USA penalties goals – this won them the game. It was pretty incredible.

He had some skills! Once someone gets the shootout uploaded to Youtube then you should definitely watch them because they are mesmerising.

As one commentator said (paraphrased) “you won’t see more moves than this in the ice dance”

On a side note, any name which is a letter ‘Y’ off the Mario dinosaur is fine by me!

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