Barcelona, Spain ( Agencies + AFRICASPORTS.NET) – Leave it to Lionel Messi to turn a straightforward penalty kick into a breathtaking moment.
With Barcelona up, 3-1, on Celta Vigo on Sunday night, Messi stepped up to take a penalty. But instead of blasting the ball to the net, he tapped it softly to the right. With the goalkeeper flummoxed, an onrushing Luis Suárez punched it in.
Coach Luis Enrique defended the goal to reporters: “There will be those who like it and those who don’t,” he said. “As well as winning titles, here we try to entertain people and win in a spectacular and sporting manner.”
Though the plan seemed to go like clockwork, Neymar claimed afterward that he was the player who was supposed to score the goal, not Suárez.
“It was for me; we had practiced it in training,” he said, according to The Independent. “Leo and myself had practiced, but Luis was closer and he scored it.”
While the play was amazing, the great Johan Cruyff actually went one better in 1982 for Ajax. Like Messi, he sidefooted the penalty to a teammate, Jesper Olsen. The keeper committed to stopping Olsen, who then returned it to Cruyff, who tapped it into the empty net.
A somewhat more common penalty trick is the Panenka, developed in the 1970s by its namesake, the Czech player Antonín Panenka. Taking advantage of the goalie’s tendency to lunge aggressively to the left or right, the shooter makes a soft kick with a slight loft and puts the ball in the center of the net.
Here’s Messi — who else? — executing it to perfection last spring.
Before you try a Panenka of your own in a pickup game, be aware that when one goes wrong, it goes badly, badly wrong:
Messi may be the world’s greatest player, but not every penalty trick he tries goes right. Here, he illegally stutter-steps before the kick, drawing a yellow card.
Theyab Awana of the U.A.E., who died in a car accident at 21, once converted an audacious penalty that makes Messi’s trickery seem staid. In an international game against Lebanon in 2011, he turned around and kicked the ball like a mule. It went directly in as the keeper watched in wonder.
There have been numerous great penalty saves over the years, but you may not have seen this one. Joël Mall of Aarau in the Swiss League pulls off a stunning double save in 2014, and still needs a superhuman effort from defender Igor N’Ganga to keep the ball out of the net.
The most memorable penalties are often the bad misses. Here is one from 2012 that Jonathan Soriano of Red Bull Salzburg would rather forget. Yikes.
Jul 27, 2016 0
Jul 20, 2016 0