World Cup Moments – 2006: Penalty heartache for Reds legends

Having won the FA Cup in a penalty shootout against West Ham a month previously, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher suffered one of the lowest points of their careers in Germany in 2006. Henry Jackson revisits Germany in our ‘World Cup Moments’ series.


The Tournament

Italy won the 18th World Cup, defeating France on penalties in a now infamous final in Berlin. Although Fabio Grosso’s winning spot-kick clinched glory for the Azzurri, it was Zinedine Zidane’s unforgettable headbutt on Marco Materazzi in extra-time that the tournament will be remembered for.

The French legend was sent-off, in what was the final game of one of the all-time great careers. It remains undoubtedly one of the most iconic World Cup moments ever.

Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England squad, containing Liverpool players Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Peter Crouch and Scott Carson, topped their group after earning seven points from their clashes with Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, and Sweden.

Gerrard and Crouch were England’s heroes in the 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago, scoring a goal apiece in the dying minutes to save the nation’s blushes.

The Liverpool skipper also found the net in the 2-2 draw with Sweden with a fine header. After a 1-0 win over Ecuador in the second round, Portugal awaited in the quarter-finals.


Penalty Heartbreak

The clash between the Three Lions and Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side was one of the most dramatic and controversial of the entire 2006 World Cup.

Wayne Rooney’s sending off midway through the second-half, for stamping on Chelsea‘s Ricardo Carvalho, was contentious — some felt it was deliberate, others felt it was an accident — and it meant England had to hang on against a Portugal side containing world-class players in Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco.

Eriksson’s men managed to see out the remainder of the 90 minutes and extra-time in gutsy fashion, and it would be the dreaded penalties that would decide who progressed to the semi-finals.

Simão Sabrosa scored his side’s first spot-kick, while Frank Lampard missed England’s opening effort. Hugo Viana hit the post, Owen Hargreaves converted, and Petit also missed, meaning if Gerrard could score England would be 2-1 up after three penalties each.

In the FA Cup final a month earlier, in which Gerrard had produced a virtuoso, match-winning performance against West Ham, his penalty in the shootout was absolutely emphatic.

This time, however, his shot was tame, and Portugal ‘keeper Ricardo kept it out. When Helder Postiga fired his effort past Paul Robinson it meant that Carragher, brought on as a penalty specialist by Eriksson in the dying minutes of extra-time, had to score to keep England level in proceedings.

He stroked his penalty past Ricardo with aplomb, only for the referee to cruelly disallow it because he hadn’t yet blown his whistle. You just knew what was going to happen with the second attempt.

Predictably, the Reds legend saw his effort tipped onto the bar by Ricardo, and the Three Lions were one kick away from elimination. Cristiano Ronaldo, the villain earlier in the game for his part in Rooney’s sending off, showed no nerves as he fired Portugal into the semi-finals.

It was a heartbreaking way for England to go out- penalty shootout defeats have become the norm ever since Italia ’90- and it was a low moment in the illustrious careers of two of Liverpool’s finest ever players.

Previous World Cup Moments:

Other LFC Players Present at the 2006 World Cup

Harry Kewell (Australia) – Eliminated in the second round by Italy
Pepe Reina, Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia (Spain) – Eliminated in the second round by France

What’s your best memory of a Liverpool player at a World Cup? Let us know in the comments section below.

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