Looking back at a quarter-century of England’s penalty kick shootout woes
It’s a tale as old as time: England losing in a penalty shootout.
England bowed out of the 2017 Under-21 European Championships to Germany in heartbreaking fashion Tuesday, taking a 2-2 draw into penalty kicks before losing a 4-3 shootout. The win sends the Germans to the final. But this is not a new feeling for the English. This narrative has been played out before. In honor of England’s continued failures from 12 yards away, here’s a look back at some recent history from the senior team.
It all started over 25 years ago when West Germany took down England in the semifinals. The two teams battled back and forth in the shootout, trading goals until the Germans finally pulled away. Stuart Pearce couldn’t convert and Chris Waddle shot far over the crossbar to mark the end of the team’s tournament run.
Days after a shootout victory in the quarterfinals, England once again faced a pesky German team in a semifinal match. As the host country, England faced the pressure and expectations of a nation. A failed attempt by Gareth Southgate sent the squads into sudden death, where Andreas Molle would send the Germans onward once again.
This classic, which featured an iconic red card for David Beckham, saw a promising opportunity for England to take a shootout. After drawing 2-2, the teams traded goals and a second-attempt save for each in the shootout. Argentina would take the penalties 4-3, though, and take the quarterfinal.
Six years later, another 2-2 draw sent England back to a quarterfinal shootout. Although Beckham missed the first shot, his squad scrambled back into the match and tied the score 5-5. That’s when Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo stepped up and blasted the ball into the back of the net, sending the English on their way.
Another year, another shootout, another quarterfinal. This time, a 0-0 draw that featured a Beckham injury sent England to penalties. Portugal missed two of its first three, but England failed to take an advantage, with both Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard missing their opening attempts. The Portuguese took a lead, Jamie Carragher missed and Cristiano Ronaldo finished the 3-1 Portugal shootout victory.
England looked to win the quarterfinal match in penalties after a goalless draw. Goals from Gerrard and Wayne Rooney put the team up 2-1, but everything quickly collapsed. The Italians would net three unanswered penalties and eliminate England in familiar fashion.
The most recent shootout disappointment goes to the Under-21 team, which fought a steady offensive attack from Germany that put England to the test Tuesday. It was a feat in and of itself to make it to a shootout in the semifinal, but the English had been preparing extensively for such circumstances. To fall in the final agonizing moments was just another reminder that the jinx remains.
To be fair to the English, the team did snag a shootout victory over Spain in the 1996 Euro quarterfinals. But that joy was squashed four days later against Germany. When will the losing streak end? England can only hope soon.