Janjetovic's penalty gamble pays off handsomely for Sydney

Sydney FC goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic had done his homework on Walter Montillo’s penalties and gambled successfully on where the Shandong Luneng star would go with his spot kick in the first-leg AFC Champions League Round of 16 tie.


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Janjetovic got down low to his left to make a brilliant save on Wednesday night and now Sydney go into Wednesday’s second leg at Allianz Stadium with a vital away goal after a 1-1 draw.

The Sky Blues are calling on their fans to turn out in big numbers to help them finish off the job.

“I did my homework on him before the game,” Janjetovic told The World Game, before the team flew out of China on Thursday. “So I had a fair idea what was going to happen.

“You never know for sure, he could have easily changed his mind and gone to my right and it would’ve been 1-0 to them and we would’ve been on the back foot.

“But we’d had a look at his last few penalties on video and it was pretty clear that to my left was his preferred side.

“We played around with that and before he took his pen I moved up and down and along the goal-line, just something different, instead of just standing there and letting him have the luxury of visualising where he wanted to put the ball.”

Janjetovic’s pre-penalty routine even involved him making a gesture to Montillo to put the ball to the goalkeeper’s left as he was running in to strike it.

“That was a bit of gamesmanship, again something different to try to put the penalty-taker off,” Janjetovic said. “Or maybe put him in two minds, at least.

“It’s a bonus for a ‘keeper to be able to save a penalty. People automatically put their money on the kick-taker, so the odds are against you and you’ve got to try to do something to give yourself a chance. I think it worked a treat last night.

“You’re watching his movements and during his run-up I pointed to my left. I don’t know for sure if that did it for me, but it might have put him off. I’ll take any penalty save I can get.

“Often  a keeper will stand there and take whatever’s coming and not do anything to stop the penalty-taker having the luxury of setting up without any distractions, so moving up and off the goal-line, pointing - even if you improve your odds by just a few per cent it can work for you.”

Janjetovic said he was particularly determined to save the penalty after he conceded it by bringing down Wu Xingham.

“I wanted to redeem myself,” he said. “So I tried to put him off.

"It’s a gamble, but it was a good gamble because I came out on top. I felt it kick-started the boys, because we scored soon after that and after they equalised in the second half we held strong over the closing stages.

“Now we’ve got a massive game in Sydney and it would be great if our fans could pack the place to support us, because we’ve got the chance to do something special.

“It was a great result, to come all this way and get a draw and an away goal. It was a massive, massive shift put in by the boys. You couldn’t fault anyone, they all put in a great effort and we got a result we deserved.

“’Arnie’ (coach Graham Arnold) was more than happy with the result and now we’ve got to do the job at home.”

Janjetovic’s heroics brought back memories of the sensational form by Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic during that team’s run to win the 2014 ACL title.

Covic made a crucial penalty save in the away second leg of Western Sydney’s quarter-final tie against Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande in 2014 – also with the score at 0-0.

He also made a stunning, one-handed reflex save from point-blank range in the second leg of the final against Al-Hilal that was also critically important.

Janjetovic said those efforts by Covic had helped inspire him during Sydney’s ACL campaign.

“When called upon, you’ve got to be there, you’ve got to do your bit for the team, just like everyone else on the pitch,” Janjetovic said.

“I’d seen what Ante Covic did and I knew it was possible. You always like to think you can pull off a save like that and when you give the penalty away yourself, as I did last night, you’re absolutely desperate to do something about it.”

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5 min read
Published 19 May 2016 at 1:42pm
By Greg Prichard
Source: SBS