David de Gea suffers penalty shootout heartbreak against Russia

by Leo Nieboer

David de Gea‘s tumultuous World Cup campaign with Spain reached a new low against Russia as the Manchester United keeper failed to make a single save during a penalty shootout.

The Spaniard had already come under immense criticism following a blunder against Cristiano Ronaldo in the opening game and further jittery moments in games against Iran and Morocco.

And as Spain, their approach totally devoid of penetration or speed, failed to find a winner after Artem Dzyuba’s leveller from the spot before half time, De Gea had a chance to send a message to his critics by becoming his country’s hero in a penalty shootout.

But it wasn’t to be. De Gea got a strong set of fingertips to the first Russian penalty but not enough to keep it out. He got nowhere near the next three, with one actually going under him, as Koke and Iago Aspas fluffed their lines and sent Russia into the quarter finals.

De Gea will be heartbroken at the way these finals have panned out for him. Ever since that Ronaldo goal in Sochi he has looked shaky, clearly inundated by the eyes fixed upon him. It has been a world apart from the unyielding affection he receives at Old Trafford.

But you sense the result would have been the same had De Gea been in a Man United shirt. Penalties are an unquestionable weakness for this otherwise sublime shot-stopper: his last save from the spot came against Romelu Lukaku in April 2016. He has only made five in his entire time at Old Trafford – fewer than one per season.

And he will, you suspect, harshly question himself in the coming days. Every Spanish player should. You can be sure that De Gea, no stranger to this situation, will come out the other end stronger.

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