How to win a World Cup penalty shoot-out as England aim to avoid new crushes

Don’t rush, show no emotion and the fear factor… how to win a penalty shootout as England aim to avoid fresh Qatar crushes

  • England historically have a torrid tournament penalty shootout record
  • The Three Lions have only won two of their nine shootouts in history
  • England won their first World Cup shootout against Colombia in 2018
  • However, they then lost the Euro 2020 final on penalties to Italy last summer.
  • Sportsmail looks at the key factors and tips for winning a penalty shootout
  • Click here for the latest news, fixtures, live action and results from the 2022 World Cup

The knockout stage of the World Cup raises the dreaded prospect of another penalty shootout for England, with the national team winning just two of their nine penalty shootouts at major tournaments.

Their World Cup duck was memorably broken four years ago against Colombia, but Southgate’s side then lost on kicks in the Euro 2020 final last year. So what will happen this time and what factors will make the difference?

England have a scorching kicking record, winning two of the tournament’s nine major shootouts

England were beaten on penalties in last year's Euro 2020 final against Italy at Wembley

England were beaten on penalties in last year’s Euro 2020 final against Italy at Wembley

Current England boss Gareth Southgate missed the decisive spot-kick at Euro 1996 as the Three Lions traveled to Germany on penalties in the semi-finals of the tournament.

Current England boss Gareth Southgate missed the decisive spot-kick at Euro 1996 as the Three Lions traveled to Germany on penalties in the semi-finals of the tournament.

MATAINING TIME

Ben Lyttleton studied shootings for his book Twelve Yards: The Art & Psychology of the Perfect Penalty and found that a rushing kick is much less likely to succeed.

“It was one of my biggest discoveries,” Lyttleton says. “The referee blows his whistle to say you can shoot when you’re ready. This is not a starter gun and you have to take it right away.

Prior to 2018, England players had often tried to clear their penalty test as quickly as possible, with Jamie Carragher taking his in the shootout against Portugal at Euro 2006 before the referee had even whistled.

England’s penalties in the last two tournaments suggest Southgate has solved the problem, although you’ll still find top players elsewhere who don’t heed the lesson.

‘When Kepa [Arrizabalaga] missed his decisive penalty for Chelsea in the League Cup final against Liverpool last season, he waited less than a second,” says Lyttleton.

“And when France lost to Switzerland at the Euros last summer, Kylian Mbappe took the fastest penalty. He waited less than a second after the referee’s whistle and that’s he who missed.

England celebrated their first World Cup penalty shootout success against Colombia in 2018

England celebrated their first World Cup penalty shootout success against Colombia in 2018

BODY LANGUAGE

This applies as much to the coaching staff as it does to the players. Gareth Southgate and his behind-the-scenes team present a determined and united front in the shootout, standing arm in arm, avoiding any great emotion regardless of the outcome of a penalty.

“It was very clear at the 2018 World Cup that Southgate and his team were trying to stay very controlled, as were the players in the center circle,” Lyttleton said. “If everyone goes completely crazy when a player scores and then has their head in their hands when they miss, it just adds more pressure on the kicker.”

Similarly, when Jordan Henderson missed a free-kick against Colombia, his behavior on his return to the center circle hardly disappointed. Even though he was hurting inside, Lyttleton suspects the player was trying not to pass it on to his teammates.

“It was clearly something we had been working on. The message was: the shooting is not over. The game is not over. We are still in there. The next penalty taker for Columbia missed and England won.

Eric Dier scored the decisive penalty in the historic win over Colombia in Russia

Eric Dier scored the decisive penalty in the historic win over Colombia in Russia

FEAR FACTOR

In 2006, Portugal played the quarter-final as if they wanted a penalty shootout because they knew the prospect weighed so heavily on England. One of Southgate’s greatest achievements, however, has been to relieve its players of the burden of past failures.

As Lyttleton points out, Southgate was quick to take responsibility for the shootout loss to Italy at the Euros. He insisted it was entirely his responsibility as he picked the penalty takers, including Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford, who both missed.

“Every coach in the past who abdicated responsibility for the penalty shootout and said it was just a matter of luck, almost suspends players to dry off,” Lyttleton says. “But Southgate blamed themselves. He said: I am solely responsible for this.

“It sends a huge message of support to the players: whatever happens in the shootout, I have your back. It’s horrible what happened after the Euro for the failed players. But entering this tournament, there will be no fear of being a scapegoat.

England suffered heartache at the 2006 World Cup as Portugal capitalized on England's woes

England suffered heartache at the 2006 World Cup as Portugal capitalized on England’s woes

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