Curse of the penalty shootout hangs over England again

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Curse of the penalty shootout hangs over England again
Wayne Rooney takes part in a training session in Chantilly.

Chantilly - England is back in the knockout stage of a major soccer tournament


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Published: Fri 24 Jun 2016, 3:59 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Jun 2016, 11:44 PM

England is back in the knockout stage of a major soccer tournament. And that usually means one thing: A strong chance of being involved in a penalty shootout.
That's bad news for the English.
England has lost six of its seven shootouts in major tournaments since 1990, making it something of an unwanted tradition for the national team.
Players like Stuart Pearce, Chris Waddle, Gareth Southgate and David Batty are as well known for missing penalties for England than anything else they achieved in their careers.
England will play Iceland in the round of 16 at the European Championship in Nice on Monday, and captain Wayne Rooney said the team has been practicing penalties after every training session at the tournament, treating it like a game scenario.
"We go through the rhythm which we would do in a game," Rooney said. "Obviously it's different with the crowd and the pressure, but it's important for the players when you practice penalties to practice how you're going to do it (during a game)."
In practice, Rooney has been telling goalkeepers which way he is going to kick the ball, to make it more of a challenge. "If he can't save it and he knows which way I'm going, then there's no worries," he said.
England's catalogue of woe in penalty shootouts began at the 1990 World Cup, when Pearce had a spot kick saved and Waddle blasted his over the bar in a semifinal loss to Germany.
At Euro 1996, which England hosted, the team beat Spain on penalties in the quarterfinals - Pearce memorably scored one to partially make up for his failure in 1990 - but then lost in the semifinals, again to Germany.
England lost on penalties to Argentina in the last 16 of the 1998 World Cup, to Portugal in the quarterfinals of both Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup, and then to Italy in the quarterfinals of Euro 2012.
Rooney scored his against Italy, but Ashley Young and Ashley Cole failed to score past Gianluigi Buffon as England made its familiar exit.
"The good thing about this squad now is I don't think there is one player who has been in a shootout and missed for England, who is in this squad," Rooney said. "So that won't be hanging over any player."
Rooney also gave an insight into the nerves and mind games involved in a shootout.
"I remember against Italy thinking, 'I know which way I'm going,' and Buffon was actually pointing, telling me he knows I'm going that way. He was right," Rooney recalled, laughing. "So then I started thinking, 'Shall I go the other way?' But I ended up going the same way anyway. And he dived the other way."
"Just by a goalkeeper pointing one way, it can knock you off. It's nervous." The English will be hoping they don't need to go to penalties against Iceland, the tiny island nation of 330,000 people that is the smallest country to compete at a European Championship. 

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