In matchday 36 (May 8) of Italian Serie A football league, Udinese managed to defeat Lazio by 2-1 in one of the most important matches to decide the league's 4th place, the last position who will advance to next year European Champions League. Besides striker Antonio Di Natale who scored both goals for the Zebrette, goalkeeper Samir Handanovic also labeled as a hero, after his penalty saved from Mario Zarate when the match's score was still 2-0.
This was the 6th penalty saves from 8 opportunities by the Slovenian goalkeeper. Before Zarate, Samir Handanovic has stopped shots from Samuel Eto’o, Edgar Barreto, David Di Michele, Marek Hamsik dan Edinson Cavani. Only two experienced players, Francesco Totti and Hernan Crespo who're able to beat Handanovic from the spot kick.
What makes it interesting, Zarate was trying to copycat Totti's penalty style to beat Handanovic. He kicked the ball with a chip shot straight into the middle, but Handanovic won't be fooled twice by the same way. The 1.92 m goalie standing still in the center and easily caught Zarate's shot, and made the Argentinian looked silly.
This is the video of Zarate and Totti penalties against Handanovic:
Until this May 2011, Samir Handanovic has saved 11 from 26 spot kicks in Italian Serie A, which makes 42% penalty stop ratio. This is the best record in Italy, beat the stats of two retired goalkeepers, Luca Marchegiani from Lazio (17/42 or 40%) and Napoli's legend Pino "Batman" Taglialatela (11/27 or 41%).
He has his own tips of stopping penalty. "I prepare for games by studying my opponents in the week, but when it comes to the match you just have to watch the player, stay still for as long as possible and rely on your instinct."
It's probably too early to put Samir Handanovic as a sport legend, considering he's still 26-year-old, and he can either fix his record or even destroy it. Nevertheless, stopping penalty is not an easy task. Statistic show that the ratio of a goalkeeper to deny spot kick is only around 10%-20%, but Handanovic manages to double that number.
Check out this video of Handanovic penalty saves from this season: