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On the spot: A closer look at the numbers behind England’s penalty takers

By July 12, 2021No Comments

England’s Euro 2020 dream ended with defeat to Italy in a penalty shoot-out in Sunday’s final.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho – both late substitutes – and Bukayo Saka shared the pain of missing spot-kicks as England succumbed to familiar heartbreak at Wembley.

Questions have been asked over the selection process for penalty takers and here, the PA news agency analyses the options available to manager Gareth Southgate.

Automatic choices

On the spot: A closer look at the numbers behind England’s penalty takers PLZ Soccer
Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford are England’s most experienced penalty takers (PA graphic)

Southgate insisted after the match that “the calls for the penalties were mine – my decision to ask the players to take the penalties that they did”.

Those calls were based largely on performance during penalty practice in training, though we can also look at players’ record from the spot in competitive action to assess the candidates.

Captain and regular penalty taker Harry Kane is first choice at club level with Tottenham, as was Rashford for Manchester United until Bruno Fernandes’ arrival.

Combining publicly available figures from transfermarkt.co.uk with PA’s own data, Kane had an 85 per cent success rate prior to Sunday night having scored 47 out of 55 penalties, including three from three in shoot-outs.

Rashford was even better at 89 per cent, 17 out of 19, with the only question mark over his involvement being his lack of match involvement.

Southgate’s substitutions

On the spot: A closer look at the numbers behind England’s penalty takers PLZ Soccer
Marcus Rashford, left, and Jadon Sancho wait to come on ahead of Sunday night’s shoot-out (Mike Egerton/PA)

Sancho, too, had an impressive prior record from the spot, scoring all three of his efforts at senior level for Borussia Dortmund and 10 out of 11 in the dataset overall, with his only miss coming at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

It is understandable, therefore, why Southgate would want to turn to him and Rashford – but the lateness of the changes left them coming in cold.

Rashford was also left to play right-back as a direct replacement for Kyle Walker – effectively ruling out the introduction of any further specialists such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin and his 100 per cent record from four penalties.

Conor Coady, who did not play a single minute in the tournament, is another with a strong penalty record – although his Championship goal against Bolton in 2018 is the Wolves defender’s only attempt at senior level.

Walker’s only ever penalty, which he scored, came in Tottenham’s 2013 League Cup shoot-out against Hull while the other player replaced late on, Jordan Henderson, has scored only one of four and missed for England in both their 2018 World Cup shoot-out win over Colombia and last month’s warm-up game against Romania.

Who was missing?

On the spot: A closer look at the numbers behind England’s penalty takers PLZ Soccer
Mason Mount was substituted during the final (Nick Potts/PA)

Southgate noted after the game that “we had to take a couple off during the game”, suggesting Mason Mount and Kieran Trippier may have been among the planned takers.

Mount has scored four out of five career penalties, all bar one of those in shoot-outs, while Trippier scored against Colombia and in Atletico Madrid’s Spanish Supercopa shoot-out against city rivals Real last January but has missed his two efforts in regulation.

On the spot: A closer look at the numbers behind England’s penalty takers PLZ Soccer
England’s record from penalties in senior internationals before the Euro 2020 final (PA graphic)

ITV pundit Roy Keane had said after the game the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish “cannot sit there and have a young kid go up for a penalty ahead of you”, while Jose Mourinho asked on talkSPORT: “Where was Sterling, where was (John) Stones, where was (Luke) Shaw?”

Grealish tweeted on Monday morning that “I said I wanted to take one!!!!” and has scored both his penalties in his Aston Villa career, but Sterling’s record would seem to explain his absence – he has scored just four out of nine, and two from four in shoot-outs, although he did net in England’s Nations League shoot-out win over Switzerland.

Shaw and Stones have scored in shoot-outs, Shaw in Manchester United’s recent Europa League final loss to Villarreal and Stones in Everton’s FA Cup defeat to West Ham in 2015 – with the latter adding a Panenka in a friendly win over Juventus in 2013.

Kalvin Phillips, with two from three in shoot-outs, would have been considered while goalkeeper Jordan Pickford scored confidently against Switzerland.