Penalties are basically a nightmare for keepers. you have to make a decision in a split second, stay on your line and face all manner of stuttered run-ups, Panenkas and impossible to deal with techniques.
Not Samir Handanovic, though, who is the undisputed champion of spot kicks.
Handanovic has now saved 25 penalties in the Italian top flight after (briefly) denying Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Derby della Madonnina, taking top spot from former Inter keeper Gianluca Pagliuca.
The Slovenian has become known for his supreme ability to save shots from the 12-yard spot over the last decade, quietly building up a reputation as one of Europe’s strongest goalkeepers.
He’s showed no signs of slowing down despite now being 36, but breaking the record makes for the perfect excuse to look back at his career in Italy and pick out some of his best stops from the penalty spot.
After also denying Edinson Cavani from the spot the year prior, Handanovic was at it again the following season and stopped the Uruguayan from bagging a hat-trick as Udinese and Napoli played out a high-scoring draw.
It was a test of mentality and the Slovenian came out on top, as Cavani tried to go low and hard down the middle but failed. Another big performance for Handanovic as Udinese went one better and finished third that season.
Never mind most Serie A penalty saves, Handanovic needs his own championship belt to celebrate his stops against Napoli.
The save didn’t prove key in inspiring a win for the Nerazzuri, but it was his first in the Inter shirt.
It wasn’t his greatest game in the shirt, but the save was a smart one. Handanovic was at full stretch down to his left to push the ball round the post.
Mauro Icardi opened the scoring to make it 1-0 Inter early on, but Handanovic was called upon in the first half.
His smart penalty stop denied Maxi Lopez of a vital equaliser and allowed his side to push on in the second half and win 4-0, as they chased down Europa League qualification.
Inter were poor on the opening day of the 2014/15 in what was a dark period for the club. And while they’re still yet to reach the absolute summit of Serie A once more, they’re much closer these days.
A 0-0 stalemate with Torino could’ve ended up worse if it wasn’t for Handanovic, who produced a fine penalty stop from a low, powerful effort to ensure that his side travelled home with at least a point.
It was a bad day at the office for Inter all-round and admittedly for Handanovic too – conceding four at home is simply not good enough, certainly not for his standards.
There was a small consolation, however, in that he pulled off a fine save to deny Andrea Cossu from the spot, who looked to have found the bottom corner. It did little for the result, but it was one to look back on and has contributed to the record he now holds.
A much healthier score line to read, the veteran stopper was back to his best in this contest at the tail end of a disappointing 2014/15 campaign.
Despite Inter leaving with such a comprehensive victory, Handanovic was called into action a few times and pulled off a smart double save earlier on. He then denied Luca Toni from the spot, going full stretch to his right to push a powerful effort away from goal.
One point was disappointing in that three might’ve been the win that pushed Inter to the scudetto ahead of Juventus last season, but it could’ve easily been a loss if it wasn’t for Handanovic.
The captain came up with an important penalty save in the closing stages of the game, pushing away Luis Muriel’s late spot-kick to deny Atalanta the winner, making it look easy in the process. Ice in his veins.
Inter didn’t come away with the bragging rights, but they came up against a revived Milan team who are now unbeaten in 20 games. And Zlatan Ibrahimovic. There was only so much they could do.
Handanovic was unfortunate with this one and watching the rebound get tapped in with ease will never not be frustrating to a goalkeeper, but it was the one that secured him the accolade of most penalty saves in the league.
Not a bad consolation prize.