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Chelsea stars join Ronaldo, Neymar on list of spot-kick spats


Chelsea extended their unbeaten run to eight games on Monday by way of a 6-0 mauling of Everton, but the performance was marred by a petulant skirmish that preceded the Blues’ fifth goal of the evening at Stamford Bridge.

Having been awarded a penalty on the hour mark, several Chelsea players were seen bickering over the taking duties. There was pushing and shoving between teammates as Noni Madueke and Nicolas Jackson argued over who would take the spot kick while Cole Palmer, who had already scored a hat trick on the night, stood by.

Captain Conor Gallagher then stepped in to mediate, which resulted in Palmer — who is the Blues’ designated penalty taker — emerging from the squabble with the ball in his hands and promptly stepping up to score his fourth goal of the game. That strike drew him level with Manchester City‘s Erling Haaland in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot with 20 goals each.

The unedifying argument left a slightly sour taste after what was an otherwise impressive outing for Chelsea. Speaking after the game, Palmer — who has a 100% success rate when it comes to taking penalties in the Premier League — acknowledged that the issue had already been settled.

“Other players wanted to take it, but I am the penalty taker and I wanted to take it,” he said. “I think we are showing everyone wants to take responsibility. It may be a bit over the top, but everyone wants to win — we are laughing and joking about it.”

Of course, the sight of teammates quibbling over penalties is hardly a new phenomenon, with some of the game’s biggest names getting embroiled in spats over spot kicks. Here are but a few examples of the rows we’ve witnessed in recent years, with plenty of repeat offenders.

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With a gaggle of enormous egos on the pitch, it’s perhaps not surprising to find that Paris Saint-Germain have had to endure a number of penalty rows in recent seasons. One of the most memorable was the “Penaltygate” altercation between Neymar and MbappĂ© against Montpellier in 2022 that saw the former commandeer the ball from the latter after MbappĂ© had previously missed from the spot during the same game. The Brazilian then coolly converted from 12 yards, though MbappĂ© was hardly effusive in his celebrations. Neymar then further antagonised his teammate after the game by liking a series of pithy tweets that criticised MbappĂ©’s role as the team’s first-choice penalty taker. Beleaguered PSG coach Christophe Galtier was forced to play down rumours of a rift between his superstar strikers, though the evidence on display certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

Neymar vs. Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)

The tetchy contretemps with MbappĂ© wasn’t Neymar’s first pre-penalty dispute during his stint at PSG. The Brazilian had previously denied Edinson Cavani a place in the record books during an 8-0 obliteration of Dijon in 2018. Having already scored, Cavani needed just one more goal to move past Zlatan Ibrahimovic and become PSG’s all-time top goal scorer. Sadly, the chance to add goal No. 157 was denied by Neymar, who steadfastly refused to let Cavani take a penalty won later in the game on the basis that he was the club’s designated taker, despite his teammate having been felled in the area to win the spot kick in the first place. Instead, Neymar stepped up to score his fourth of the night amid a chorus of disapproving boos echoing around the Parc des Princes as he began his run-up.

Hardly a stranger to the odd petulant outburst, Cristiano Ronaldo was visibly livid with Real Madrid teammate Xabi Alonso after being forced to back down in a row over a penalty during a league game against Villarreal in 2010. Already up 5-2 at the Bernabéu, Ronaldo was tripped in the box with just a few minutes left on the clock and immediately grasped the ball with the intention of firing in his second goal of the game. However, Alonso wanted to take the penalty in order to score his first goal for Los Blancos, and was encouraged by several of his teammates. The midfielder duly smashed the ball into the back of the net as a jilted Ronaldo was left to sulk.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Carlos Tevez (Manchester United)

Ronaldo had previous form in this area. Clashing egos came to the fore at Manchester United after Ronaldo denied strike partner Tevez the chance to complete his hat trick during a game against Derby County in 2007. United were already 3-1 ahead at Old Trafford when they won a penalty in the 90th minute of the encounter. Tevez had already scored twice and requested that Ronaldo — the team’s first-choice taker — allow him to complete his treble. However, having won the penalty himself, Ronaldo was singularly unwilling to hand over duties despite the victory being all but secured and promptly rattled his own spot kick into the net to round things off, which led Sir Alex Ferguson to side with Tevez postmatch.

“Cristiano is our regular penalty taker, so I can understand why he wanted to take it,” Sir Alex admitted. “But it would have been great for Carlos if he had scored a hat trick.”

Frank Lampard vs. Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

Drogba publicly apologised after throwing an immature tantrum over a penalty against Wigan Athletic in the final game of Chelsea’s 2009-10 title-winning season. Despite his rich vein of goal-scoring form, Drogba was stood down by designated taker Lampard when the Blues won a first-half penalty against the Latics — much to his visible chagrin. As teammates desperately tried to calm a fuming Drogba down, Lampard converted from the spot to put Chelsea 2-0 up.

“I wasn’t happy, but afterwards I realised I was making a big mistake. Frank was right,” a contrite Drogba said after the game.

Drogba also received a stern ticking-off from manager Carlo Ancelotti at half-time, and the Italian’s words inspired a spectacular flurry of action after the restart. The Ivory Coast striker weighed in with a hat trick that saw him wrap up the Golden Boot while fuelling the Blues to a resounding 8-0 victory. The third of the goals was — you guessed it — a penalty, with Lampard handing his teammate the honour of scoring from the spot.

“I spoke with Didier. I told him it was my decision if there was a penalty to give it to Lampard,” Ancelotti revealed. “I told him ‘Quiet. You can score in the second half.’ I am a magician!”

Frank Lampard vs. Paolo Di Canio (West Ham)

Whether a telling portent or sheer coincidence, Lampard felt the wrath himself as a younger player when he made the mistake of attempting to take a penalty off West Ham teammate Paolo Di Canio during a game against Bradford City in 2000. Things went exactly as you’d expect as the 20-year-old midfielder found himself on the end of a tongue-lashing from the fiery Italian striker. After copious amounts of shouting and finger-wagging, Di Canio stepped up and converted in emphatic style as the Hammers went on to emerge victorious in a 5-4 barnstormer at Upton Park.

Already two goals up against league leaders Manchester City, Tottenham were presented with a fine chance to extend their lead in the 63rd minute when Dele Alli was clattered to the ground in the area. Unfortunately, etiquette was not followed, as both Son and Lamela proceeded to have an almighty argument with each other over who was going to do the honours from the spot as Dele, the on a hat trick, stayed silent. After bickering back and forth for a minute or two, Lamela quite literally seized the initiative only to see his meek penalty easily thwarted by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Thankfully, blushes were ultimately spared as Spurs held on to record a 2-0 victory.


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