IT was one of the most arresting images of the last sporting month.

The Euros, Wimbledon, and the Scottish Open all vied for our viewing attention, and time zone issues squeezed out the Copa America, not just one of the oldest tournaments but featuring soccer gods like Lionel Messi. (His team, Argentina, won by the way!)

But lingering in the mind is that picture of 19-year-old Bukayo Saka being hugged by his manager after failing to score what might have been England’s winning penalty.

Only Gareth Southgate knows why he got his captain to take the first one, and the team’s baby to have the last. Penalty shootouts by their very nature are a pretty random affair; as much to do with mind games and unpredictable arithmetic as basic skills.

Plus, you have to factor in the intolerable pressures attendant on taking a spot kick in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans – not to mention millions back at their respective ranches, pubs and fanzones. Whatever you’ve practised at training hardly bears any resemblance.

Yet cruel as this piece of sporting theatre so often proves, nothing else has been found as effective in bringing a game to a definitive end.

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For years various competitions tried the so called “golden goal” which gave victory to the first team to score in extra time. The theory was that it would make both contenders more adventurous as they sought that magic moment.

The reality proved rather different, with teams, in finals especially, being super cautious to avoid sudden defeat.

Not for the first time in the world of sport, it was left to the eloquent and dignified Marcus Rashford to publish a statement apologising for his own miss – “usually I can take penalties in my sleep” – but underscoring the sense of brotherhood occasioned by working for weeks with his multi-coloured team-mates.

Not for the first time in my football fandom, I found myself wishing that this fine young man had found a Scottish granny and we could have played him as a striker.

Let’s face it, we’re not exactly over endowed with goal machines in that department.