Guaraníes Beat the Samurai Blues in the World Cup's First Penalty Shoot-out

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So eventually it came: the mandatory World Cup penalty shoot-out. What players and teams fear the most in a knockout game. Doesn't matter from then who played the best football over 90 minutes, who had the best chances, most chances, who should have won and ultimately who deserved to win. From there on, football is at its most chance-moment ever. Anything can happen, and it usually does.

There are some numbers we can look at though. Since the penalty-shoot-out was introduced in the World Cup in 1982, it has been the eliminator twenty times. The team that shoots the first has won 60% of the time and 30% penalties has been missed out of 186 taken. Most memorable is perhaps the World Cups that have been decided by penalties: in the finals between Brazil-Italy in 1994, a game where “nothing happened until the penalty kicks” and most recently when Italy clinched the trophy after their 5-3 penalty win against France.

Today it was a game before the penalties. But that is how cruel and merciless football is, that after the game people barely remember the action sequences, the almost-goal-moments, marvelous runs, performances, kicks, tackles, and remember only who won. Who missed. And who saved. The latter never happened today as we saw 7 perfectly executed penalty kicks. Schoolbook examples of excellence. One hit the crossbar.

Japan out, Paraguay to the quarterfinals where they will face winner of Portugal-Spain.