Penalty Shootouts Turn Goalkeepers Into National Heroes

The rules of a penalty shootout are simple: It’s all about the kicker. The goalkeeper can only gain something from it if he makes a save. He can’t lose if he concedes. National heroes are born from these moments. Suddenly, Brazil remembered just how important Julio Cesar is. Costa Rica introduced Keylor Navas to the world.

Maybe the goal post and the crossbar are the real heroes for the Brazilians against Chile. Mauricio Pinilla stuck the crossbar in the final minute of extra time before Chile lost to Brazil in the penalty shootout. Gonzalo Jara hit the post in the final penalty for Chile which meant they were knocked out against Brazil in the round of 16 for a third consecutive world cup.

The balance between “luck” and actual great goalkeeping was different in the Costa Rica match as they overcame the never ending Greeks and their nine lives syndrome. Keylor Navs made just one save in the penalty shootout compared to Julio Cesar’s two. But Naves made two huge saves during the match that meant Costa Rica got to that point in which penalties decide.

Greece were in the round of 16 for the first time ever. Costa Rica, a nation of 4.5 million people, are in the quarterfinals for the first time. It’s not just Keylor Navas who deserves the applause for making it that far. Bryan Ruiz has been fantastic, and so have a number of other players. But penalties are about the moment goalkeepers stand out. Unless Costa Rica have some more surprises in store for us, Navas will be their most memorable hero from this World Cup.

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