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In association football, the Panenka is a technique used in penalty kick-taking in which the taker, instead of kicking the ball to the left or right of the goalkeeper, gives a subtle touch underneath the ball, causing it to rise and fall within the centre of the goal, deceiving the goalkeeper who is counted on by the taker to have guessed a side and committed a dive away from the centre. It was first used by Czech player Antonín Panenka, who presented this technique to the world in the 1976 UEFA European Championship final, when he beat German goalkeeper Sepp Maier to claim the title for the Czechoslovakian national team. After its sensational debut in the tournament, the Panenka kick has been used on rare occasions and mostly by highly respected players who can deal with the consequences of missing such an attempt. This style of penalty kick is also called Il cucchiaio ("the spoon") in the Italian-speaking world, cavadinha ("little dig") in Brazil and penal picado ("poked penalty kick") in Argentina.
The aim of the technique is not to chip the ball over the goalkeeper, but to take advantage of the fact that many goalkeepers will dive to either side of the goal in anticipation, rather than waiting to see in which direction the ball is going. It is a very risky technique, because the subtle touch on the ball gives it a very slow speed, thus allowing the goalkeeper to move back from where they jumped, or even to simply remain in the same spot and wait for the ball to fall easily into their hands. In addition, the subtle touch is most easily applied by a taker who slows down as he/she is about to strike the ball, making it possible for the goalkeeper to recognize what the taker is intending. The move is known for only being used by confident penalty takers who dare to risk missing the kick. Some players that have used the Panenka kick have been criticized by the specialized media or their team's members and supporters.
Antonín Panenka came to international prominence playing for Czechoslovakia in the 1976 European Championship; Czechoslovakia reached the final, where they faced West Germany. After extra time, the result was 2–2, and so the first penalty shootout in a European Championships final ensued. The first seven kicks were converted, until West Germany's fourth penalty taker, Uli Hoeneß, ballooned his shot over the bar. With the score 4–3, Panenka stepped up to take the fifth Czechoslovakian penalty, to win the match under immense pressure. He feigned shooting to the side of the goal, causing German goalkeeper Sepp Maier dive to his left, and then gently chipped the ball into the middle of the net. The perceived impudence of the shot, in addition to its success, led a watching French journalist to dub Panenka "a poet", and his winning kick is one of the most famous ever, making Panenka's name synonymous with that particular style of penalty kick.
As well as winning the 1976 European Championship, Panenka helped Czechoslovakia come third in the 1980 tournament, after scoring once again in a 9–8 penalty shootout win. In the finals of the 1982 World Cup, Panenka scored twice with penalties, but these were the only Czechoslovakian goals, and the team did not progress beyond the first group stage.
The Panenka penalty has since been successfully performed by many other players, such as Francesco Totti at UEFA Euro 2000, Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final, Sebastian Abreu in the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter-final, Andrea Pirlo at UEFA Euro 2012, Lionel Messi in a 2015 La Liga match against Getafe, and Alexis Sánchez both in the 2015 Copa América Final and in an Arsenal 2–1 win over Burnley in the Premier League (EPL); Sánchez is the second player to win a major tournament with the Panenka. The penalty has also since been successfully duplicated by Gonzalo Pineda in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, Younis Mahmoud  and Omar Abdulrahman in the 2015 Asian Cup, both Andrea Pirlo and Sergio Ramos at Euro 2012 and in Euro 2016 qualifying, Hélder Postiga at Euro 2004, John Stones against Juventus at the 2013 International Champions Cup, Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo in their first games for Toronto FC, Memphis Depay in a 2018 UEFA Nations League match, and Sofiane Diop in a 2018–19 Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final penalty shoot-out vs Stade Rennais FC.
A few who have tried the kick unsuccessfully include Brendon Santalab, Neymar, Mickaël Landreau, Antonio Calle, Rogério Ceni, Maicosuel, Raheem Sterling, Marko Dević, Graham Zusi, Robin van Persie, Svetoslav Dyakov, Antonio Cassano and Alexandre Pato.
Aaron Ramsey of Wales converted a Panenka penalty in a World Cup Qualifier on 11 June 2017, in the same stadium where Antonin Panenka first executed it, the Rajko Mitic Stadium in Belgrade, although he claimed after the match that he was unaware of the stadium's history in this regard. On 7 October 2017, Jozy Altidore of the US National Soccer Team converted a Panenka in a 2018 World Cup qualification match against Panama, the first such attempt in US National Team history. On 2 December 2017, Antonín Panenka's 69th birthday, Chelsea player Eden Hazard scored a Panenka penalty in a 3–1 home win over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.