Tuesday 23 July 2019

Italy's Zaza ruthlessly ridiculed for penalty miss against Germany

Italy's forward Simone Zaza reacts after missing his penalty. Getty Images
Italy's forward Simone Zaza reacts after missing his penalty. Getty Images

Tom Rooney

After a tense and cramped 120 minutes of football at the Stade de Bordeaux, Antonio Conte looked to his bench with the impending penalty shootout to consider, then summoned Simone Zaza who, evidently, he believed had the requisite nerve for the task at hand.

As the Germany players raced towards the half way line to envelope Jonas Hector and Manuel Neuer in an unbridled embrace in celebration of their first victory over Italy in a major tournament at the ninth attempt, one would have paid far more than a penny for Conte’s thoughts.

Was it really prudent to replace the seemingly unflappable Giorgio Chiellini, the recipient of 88 caps, with his 25-year-old Juventus club mate at such a pivotal moment?

The irascible incoming Chelsea boss might well mull over that particular decision for years to come.

The penalties proved both compelling and calamitous, but Zaza’s miss, which followed fine conversions by Lorenzo Insigne and Toni Kroos, was particularly risible.

Even as stalwarts such as Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Leonardo Bonucci , who had beaten Neuer from the spot in regular time, all failed in their attempts, the lead up to Zaza’s spot kick - a lengthy spell of stationary running – has proven the source of serious ridicule.

That the shot almost breached the stratosphere probably didn't help his cause.

Germany went on to win 6-5 and will meet the winner of Iceland and France in the semi final.

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