Referee: Marc Batta (France)
England’s first European
Championship shootout was also their first on home soil. Their only previous
experience of the nerve-wracking way to decide a game of football was at the
1990 World Cup semi-final, when West Germany defeated them 4-3, following a
1-1 draw after extra time in Turin. Spain had reached the European
Championship final in 1984, after their very first shootout gave them a 5-4
victory against Denmark in the semi-final in Lyon. The game had ended 1-1
after extra time. Two years later, at the World Cup, penalties proved their
downfall in the quarter-finals, as Belgium beat them 5-4 in Puebla, again
following a 1-1 draw after extra time. Exactly ten years later to the day,
Spain took part in their next shootout, with the same goalkeeper.
David Seaman (Arsenal and England),
Andoni Zubizarreta (Valencia and
Spain), aged 34.
Seaman, winning his 28th cap, had
faced penalties at Wembley Stadium, in each of their opening games on the
previous two Saturday afternoons. Turkyilmaz had scored for Switzerland,
side-footing with his left foot, low into the right corner. Seaman had dived
the wrong way, but seven days later, he had saved his first penalty for
England. McAllister of Scotland had shot right-footed, at medium height, just
to the left of centre, and hit Seaman’s elbow, as he left his line a fraction
early and guessed correctly. At club level he had earned a reputation as
an expert at saving penalties. In the previous year's European Cup-Winners Cup
semi-final, Seaman saved three penalties in the shootout against Sampdoria in
Genoa, to take Arsenal through to the final.
Zubizarreta, Spain’s captain, was
winning a record 110th cap. He had been beaten by all five penalties against
Belgium in 1986, diving early and the wrong way each time, but in the 1990
World Cup, two players (Sosa of Uruguay and Scifo of Belgium) had failed to
beat him from the spot. Sosa had fired over the bar and Scifo had hit the bar.
Zubizarreta had dived the right way on each occasion and had taken a step off
the line, before each kick was taken.
Spain had conceded a penalty
against Bulgaria in their opening game of the tournament, at Elland Road,
Leeds. Stoichkov had side-footed it with his left foot and hit the right-hand
post low down, beyond Zubizarreta’s dive. It then rebounded behind the ‘keeper
and hit the inside of the left-hand netting. Zubizarreta had been about a yard
off his line when the ball was kicked.
1) Alan Shearer (aged 25) –
27th cap, 9 goals, 4 of which had
made him the leading scorer in the tournament, following a spell of two
years without an international goal.
Finished the 1995-96 season with
37 league goals, making him top scorer in all four English divisions for the
second successive season.
His second goal against the
Netherlands, four days earlier, had been his 41st of the season for club and
country, 5 of which were penalties.
This was the first game in the
tournament in which he had failed to score, after starting all 4 and
completing 3 of them.
David Platt (aged 30) – Arsenal
61st cap, 27 goals, including 3
penalties, plus 1 miss against San Marino in 1993.
The only kicker to have
previously scored in a shootout for England.
Scored 7 goals in the 1995-96
season, including 1 for England.
Completed his first game of the
tournament, following 2 substitute appearances.
Stuart Pearce (aged 34) – Nottingham Forest
69th cap, 5 goals.
Started all 4 games in the
tournament and completed 3 of them, only missing the second half against
Scored 7 goals in the 1995-96
season for club and country, including 3 penalties.
Missed in England’s previous
shootout, in 1990.
4) Paul Gascoigne (aged 29) –
42nd cap, 8 goals, including 1
against Scotland, seven days earlier.
Started all 4 games in the
tournament and completed all but the opening game.
Scored 21 goals in the 1995-96
season for club and country, including 2 penalties.
Scottish Footballer of the Year
and Scottish PFA Player of the Year as Rangers won Scottish League
Championship and Scottish Cup.
Did not take part in England’s
previous shootout, in 1990.
21-year-old Robbie Fowler of
Liverpool, who had replaced Teddy Sheringham for the last 12 minutes of extra
time, was standing by to take England’s fifth penalty. He had scored 37 goals
in the 1995-96 season, including 1 for England Under-21s and was the PFA Young
Player of the Year for the second year in succession, but had only started and
completed one game for England. Fowler had only appeared in the tournament as
a late substitute for each of the last two games. Besides Fowler, four other
England players left on the field (captain Adams, Barmby, Southgate and Stone)
had all scored for their clubs that season. The other two substitutes, Barmby
and Stone, had also scored for England that season, though Sheringham, the
only other player in the side to have scored from penalties that season, had
been taken off.
Shearer had scored his first
international penalty, four days earlier, when giving England the lead against
the Netherlands. It was side-footed with his right foot, low into the bottom
left corner, beyond the Dutch ‘keeper’s dive.
Platt had converted England’s third
successful penalty against West Germany in 1990. It was side-footed, with his
right foot, at medium height to the left, where the West German ‘keeper could
only push it into the corner with both hands.
Pearce had missed England’s fourth
penalty against West Germany in 1990. He had shot left-footed, straight down
the middle and Illgner had blocked it with his legs, as he dived to the left.
Fernando Hierro (aged 28) – Real Madrid
Guillermo Amor (aged 28) – Barcelona
Alberto Belsue (aged 28) – Real Zaragoza
Miguel Angel Nadal (aged 29) - Barcelona
Hierro had completed all 4 of
Spain’s games in the tournament.
Amor had completed his first full
game of the tournament, after starting the first game and coming on as
substitute to score the winner against Romania, four days earlier.
Belsue had completed his 2nd game
of the tournament, the other being the opening game.
Nadal had completed the last 2
games, having been suspended for the first 2.
Jose Luis Caminero, who came on as
substitute for Manjarin, at half-time, was the only other player left on the
field at the end of extra time, who had previously scored in the tournament,
so was, perhaps, waiting to take the fifth penalty. Caminero had scored a late
equaliser against France, seven days earlier.
None of Spain’s kickers were
recognised strikers, but Hierro had converted 2 penalties in qualifying games
for the European Championship.
This was the first big game, which
could have been decided by a ‘sudden-death’ golden goal, but both sides were
unwilling to take risks to win the game and the extra half-hour passed without
Shootout (England first)
shot right-footed, rising up to the left corner, just brushing Zubizarreta’s
fingertips, as the ‘keeper, a yard off his line, dived correctly, but failed
to reach it with his left arm.
Hierro shot right-footed and hit
the middle of the crossbar, as Seaman took a step off his line before the ball
was kicked, and dived to the left.
side-footed, with his right foot, rising up to the right corner, above
Zubizarreta’s dive, as the ‘keeper again stepped a yard off his line.
ran up, stopped as Seaman left his line, then side-footed, with his right
foot, into the bottom left corner, with Seaman rooted to the spot.
Pearce shot left-footed, into the bottom right corner, beyond Zubizarreta’s
dive, after the ‘keeper had leapt from his line, then taken another step
before the ball was kicked, leaving him two yards from his line.
side-footed, with his right foot, low to the right of centre, as Seaman dived
to the left, after taking a step off his line.
side-footed, with his right foot, low into the bottom left corner, as
Zubizarreta dived the wrong way after once again ending up two yards from his
Nadal shot right-footed, low to the
right of centre, but Seaman took a step off his line and guessed correctly, to
turn it away with his right arm.
Why did England
The partisan home crowd gave
England a distinct advantage, after a game in which Spain were the better
side, though similar situations have had the opposite effect on home teams in
some shootouts. Certainly, Stuart Pearce’s emotional outburst after his
successful kick, fired up the crowd. Zubizarreta, like Peter Shilton in 1990,
had based his reputation as a goalkeeper on expert positional sense, narrowing
down the angle, rather than relying on instinctive reaction saves. As a young
goalkeeper, ten years earlier, he had been woeful in Spain’s World Cup exit on
penalties, diving too early and the wrong way, as the kickers were able to
wait for him to make his move. It is clear that he adapted his technique when
facing spot-kicks over the years and his strategy against England was to gain
as many steps as possible before the kick was taken. All obviously illegal,
but without risk, as referees never penalised goalkeepers for leaving their
line in shootouts. Ironically, this tactic could have cost his country a place
in the semi-finals, because by taking a couple of steps off the line and
‘narrowing the angle of opportunity for the kicker’, Zubizarreta,
inadvertently, gave himself less time and room to stretch and cover his goal
as the shots flew past him. Indeed, he got a faint touch to the first kick,
from Shearer, when a yard from his line. If he’d stayed on his line, the
spring from that position may have enabled him to get a stronger hand to the
ball. Having ‘got away’ with leaving his line for the first two kicks,
Zubizarreta managed to get further off his line for the other two kicks, in
his desperate attempts to save. Unfortunately for him, all four of England’s
kicks were hit confidently, either in or close to the corner of the net. Had
they been less so, his strategy may have worked. It should be noted that
Seaman also left his line early for each of Spain’s kicks, though to a lesser
degree, but with Spain’s penalty-taker, Hierro missing their first kick, they
were always under more pressure than England to recover.
This seemingly unique success in
England’s penalty shootout history was quickly forgotten, as just four days
later, they were eliminated in the semi-finals, on penalties, inevitably, by