The penalty shootout might not be fair, but it’s bloody fun. The cruellest way to lose, arguably the most cathartic way to win, those who have failed carry it around with them for the rest of their lives. So with apologies to them, here we have a selection of the most memorable penalty shootouts of all time…
Everton 4-3 Borussia Monchengladbach, 1970/71 European Cup
Readily available footage from the first ever penalty shootout in English professional football – Manchester United v Hull City in the semi-final of the Watney Cup in 1970 – appears not to exist, so we’ll have to settle for the first in the European Cup, between Everton and Borussia Monchengladbach. Joe Royle had his saved, but Everton won after Gladbach missed two of theirs. Watch out for a young Jupp Heynckes scoring for the Germans.
Czechoslovakia 5-3 West Germany, Euro 1976 final
With apologies for the soundtrack, this was the first major final to be decided by spot-kicks, and of course featured the famous winner by Antonin Panenka, who used the coincidentally-named ‘Panenka’ style of chipping the ball down the middle of the goal to score the final kick.
Juventus 3-0 Ajax, 1976 European Cup quarter-final
The shootout was required only sporadically in the 1970s European Cups, but this one in 1978 displayed how even the best could be fazed by it. Ajax missed all of their attempts in this game against Juventus, and while it’s easy to sit here in 2020 and laugh having never faced Dino Zoff in such a situation, we can only file some of these efforts under ‘absolute dogshit’.
Valencia 5-4 Arsenal, 1980 European Cup Winners’s Cup final
The first ever European final to be decided in a shootout came in 1980, when Arsenal were defeated by Valencia, managed by Alfredo di Stefano. Liam Brady missed the first and Graham Rix the last for Arsenal, the first of the Gunners’ two European final defeats by this method, later losing the 2000 UEFA Cup final in similar fashion.
West Germany 5-4 France, 1982 World Cup semi-final
Not too long after Harald Schumacher had rearranged Patrick Battiston’s mush, the Germans triumphed on penalties in the first shoot-out used to decide a World Cup game. Maxime Bossis, who missed the crucial kick for France, never took another penalty again in his life.
Liverpool 4-2 Roma, 1984 European Cup final
There is of course a pretty tragic story behind the wobbly legs of Bruce Grobbelaar. Agostino Di Bartolomei was Mr Roma, captain of the club as they played the final in their own stadium. He scored his kick, but Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani missed theirs and Liverpool won. Ten years later, to the day, Di Bartolomei – who suffered from depression and struggled to adjust to life outside of football – took his own life.
Tottenham 4-3 Anderlecht, 1984 UEFA Cup final
Liverpool weren’t the only English team to win a European final via penalties that season, as Tottenham defeated Anderlecht when both legs of the UEFA Cup final had ended 1-1. Could you describe this as a victory for decency and fair play after Anderlecht had cheated their way to the final by bribing the referee in the semi-final against Nottingham Forest? Yes, you probably could.
France 4-3 Brazil, 1986 World Cup quarter-finals
A shootout notable for a couple of reasons: firstly, Socrates missed and a brilliant Brazil team were knocked out, but also for Bruno Bellone’s penalty which went in off Brazilian keeper Carlos after hitting the post. Zico, who had missed a penalty during the game but scored his in the shootout, complained so vociferously that he was booked.
Steaua Bucharest 2-0 Barcelona, 1986 European Cup final
The game was terrible, but the penalties were worse: eight taken, only two scored, with Steaua keeper Helmuth Duckadam saving all of Barcelona’s efforts. The first four were all missed, before Marius Lacatus got his mind in order to finally stick one away (though even he did his best to miss), and Gavril Balint’s effort was enough to clinch it for the Romanians.
Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Espanyol, 1988 UEFA Cup final
One of football’s more multi-faceted chokes: Espanyol won the first-leg of the 1988 UEFA Cup final 3-0 and held that lead to around the hour mark of the second-leg. They then conceded three goals in 20 minutes, it went to penalties and they were even ahead 2-0 in that, before they missed three in a row to lose the whole thing. Pichi Alonso, who scored but was in the Barcelona team against Steaua, must have been the victim of a curse of some description.
Ireland 5-4 Romania, 1990 World Cup round of 16
The unlikeliest of heroes, as David O’Leary scored the winner to put Ireland in the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time, following Pat Bonner’s save from Daniel Timofte’s powerpuff effort. Also featured one of the great commentary lines too, as RTE’s George Hamilton intoned: “The nation holds its breath…yes we’re there!” as O’Leary converted.
West Germany 4-3 England, 1990 World Cup semi-final
We’ll try to keep England out of this as much as possible, because otherwise we’ll be here all day, but witness the start of a country’s psychological complex when it comes to penalties here, and the tears that some people credit with revitalising football in England.
Brazil 3-2 Italy, 1994 World Cup final
The cruellest shootout defeat ever? Not just for Roberto Baggio, who had put the Italy team on his back to take them to the final in the first place, but also Franco Baresi who had been so brilliant during the final itself and not forgetting Daniele Massaro, a game but ultimately quite limited striker who had scored twice in that year’s Champions League final win for Milan.
Uruguay 5-3 Brazil, 1995 Copa America final
…but a year after glory in Pasadena, despair in Montevideo. Note the bloke running onto the pitch at the end with what looks like a primitive mobile phone after Sergio Martinez scores the winning kick.
France 4-3 Italy, 1998 World Cup quarter-finals
Redemption for Baggio? Well, no, not really, because Italy lost – but at least he scored.
USA 5-4 China, 1999 World Cup final
The game that should have really launched women’s soccer as a going concern in America. Which it sort of did, possibly, eventually.
Italy 3-1 Netherlands, Euro 2000
Arsenal 5-4 Manchester United, 2005 FA Cup final
Awful game, Patrick Vieira’s last kick as an Arsenal player and the last trophy the Gooners would win for a while.
Liverpool 3-2 Milan, 2005 Champions League final
No introduction required, presumably.
Cameroon vs Ivory Coast, 2006 African Cup of Nations quarter-final
An extraordinary shootout, with all 22 players – goalkeepers included – scoring their penalties the first time around, meaning they had to start all over again. And of all people, it was Samuel Eto’o who eventually missed, with Didier Drogba getting the winner.
Germany 4-2 Argentina, 2006 World Cup quarter-final
The Jens Lehmann v Oliver Kahn debate raged in Germany in 2006, but this shootout certainly suggested that Jurgen Klinsmann made the right call.
Italy 5-3 France, 2006 World Cup final
Fabio Grosso was a relatively moderate footballer in the grander scheme of things, but in the summer of 2006 he scored the crucial goal in one of the greatest World Cup semi-finals ever, and then the clinching penalty in the final. Not bad.
Manchester United 6-5 Chelsea, 2008 Champions League final
John Terry slipping over, Nicolas Anelka missing and Cristiano Ronaldo not being able to claim any of the glory after missing his own kick. If you like that sort of thing.
Olympiakos 15-14 AEK Athens, 2009 Greek Cup Final
Can you have too much of a good thing? Penalty shootouts are great, but one that lasts for 34 kicks and has both goalkeepers score twice? This final was also notable for former Blackburn sniffer Matt Derbyshire coming on for Olympiacos at half-time, 2-0 down, scoring one shortly after coming on then getting a second, an equaliser, in the 97th minute, but having to be almost immediately substituted because he was suffering from concussion, after being smashed in the head by former Liverpool hero Sotirios Kyrgiakos. In the end Antonios Nikopolidis, Olympiacos’s silver fox keeper, scored the winner after having saved AEK’s previous kick. Woof.
Uruguay 4-2 Ghana, 2010 World Cup quarter-final
Boo Luis Suarez, boo. Of course, not the worst thing he’s ever done, but nevertheless: boooooooo. The weird thing is, did he actually need to punch the thing away? Could he not have just used his head?
Chelsea 4-3 Bayern Munich, 2012 Champions League final
The perfect moment for Didier Drogba to leave Chelsea (if he hadn’t spoiled it a little by coming back a few years later). Also features David Luiz, who you wonder why he doesn’t take penalties more often on this evidence.
Liverpool 14-13 Middlesbrough, 2013/14 League Cup
Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United, 2013/14 League Cup
Same competition, other end of the quality scale. You know when people say teams would rather go out of the League Cup…
Netherlands 4-3 Costa Rica, 2014 World Cup quarter-finals
The Tim Krul game.
England 4-3 Colombia, 2018 World Cup round of 16
Curse ended. Sort of. And what the hey, have a montage too…