Gareth Southgate’s penalty shootout decisions backfired

Gareth Southgate was praised for his man-management and utilisation his resources. But his decisions at penalty shootout backfired in the final of Euro 2020.

Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Gareth Southgate of England
Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Gareth Southgate of England / IMAGO

The England manager has made several important calls throughout the tournament this summer, and most of them have paid off.

Tonight his penalty shootout decisions backfired, and England suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the final.

Southgate chose to bring in Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford towards the end of extra time as penalty-taking options, and both players missed their spot-kicks.

If the two players had scored, the decision to bring them on would have been considered a masterstroke. 

Furthermore, his decision to send Bukayo Saka to take the fifth and final penalty seemed really unfair. The 19-year-old crumbled under immense pressure, and Southgate should have chosen a more seasoned professional for the pressure penalty.

Rashford has been a regular penalty taker at Manchester United, but tonight he failed to deliver under pressure. The young striker managed to send Donnarumma the other way with his stuttering run-up, but he could not place the ball into the bottom left corner. 

Jadon Sancho has barely played in the tournament so far, and the decision to hand him a vital spot-kick seems baffling in hindsight. It is natural that the former Borussia Dortmund star would be a bag of nerves. 

As far as the Bukayo Saka decision is concerned, it simply does not make sense. 

The Arsenal youngster has not taken a single penalty in his senior career so far. The likes of Raheem Sterling should have stepped up ahead of him. 

Saka looked unconvincing during the game, and he followed it up with a poor penalty. It would be unfair to blame the youngster for his miss, and Gareth Southgate will have to shoulder the blame.