The Top 20 Most Amazing Penalty Shootouts

Ozren Podnar reports...

Panenka's Chip Over Sepp Maier - The Best Penalty Ever Taken

Penalty Shootouts.

Some call penalties "a lottery". Wrong. Unlike in a lottery, a certain amount of skill on behalf of the penalty taker and the keeper is inevitably involved in penalty taking.

In fact, there used to be a real lottery in football. Until the late sixties, big games were actually decided by drawing lots, such as the European Championship semifinals between Italy and the Soviet Union (Italy had more luck on that occasion).

There were no lots in the finals, which in case of a tie had to be repeated, like the 1971 Cup Winners' Cup finals when Chelsea beat Real Madrid 2-1, or the 1974 Champions' Cup finals in which Bayern thrashed Atletico Madrid 4-0.

In the current dense match calendar there are no free dates for replays so the tradition of repeating the ties ad infinitum had to be suspended even in England. Manchester United and West Ham know much about it after losing on penalties to Arsenal and Liverpool respectively.

Perhaps the games should be played until the winning goal is scored? The television schedule won't allow that. Perhaps the penalties themselves could be modified, say, into a run at the goal from, say, 25 yards.

For the time being it seems as though the penalty shootout, like democracy, is "the worst system devised by the wit of man, except for all the others."

Our choice of the greatest penalty shootout is the one between Czechoslovakia and West Germany in the 1976 European Championship finals in Belgrade. The significance and the dramatic character of the game, the unlikely outcome and the marvellous deciding penalty conspired to make this one "the mother of all shootouts". And, for once, the Germans came out on the losing side!

1 Czechoslovakia - West Germany 2-2, 5-3 pen. (1976, European Championship finals)

A very popular scoreline flashed on Belgrade's Marakana scoreboard as Czechoslovakia beat the world and European champions West Germany in a dramatic, nail-biting final game. For a moment it looked as though the German persistence would win the day, as the favourites came back from 0-2 down just as they had done against Yugoslavia in the semis.

However, this time they could not complete the turnaround and faced penalties for the first time in a major competition. Surprisingly, the Czechoslovaks had the stronger nerves and after Uli Höness ballooned the ball over the bar, Antonin Panenka stepped up and executed the most famous penalty ever: a vicious chip that entered into the center of the goal, past an unsuspecting Sepp Maier, who dived like a panther to his right post.

2. West Germany - England 1-1, 4-3 (1990, World Cup semifinals)

This was where it all began. In Turin. England could have clinched a win against the second best team of the tournament (Italy was the best), but an own goal by Parker, deflecting Andy Brehme's shot meant that penalties would decide the finalist. Although Peter Shilton dived the right way for each of the German penalties, he didn't actually come close to saving any of them, while Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle both shot over the bar.

3. Italy - Argentina 1-1, 3-4 (1990, World Cup semifinals)

The Azzurri had won all of the five previous games without conceding a goal, while Argentina had been scraping through from day one. In the quarterfinals the reining champions had edged Yugoslavia by 3-2 on penalties, with keeper Goycochea becoming a hero thanks to his two saves. Now in Naples, in the land of Diego Maradona, there was Goycochea again trapping the shots by Donadoni (incidentally the new Italian manager) and Serena, making Argentina arguably the most undeserving finalists in World Cup history.

4. France - Brazil 1-1, 4-3 (1986, World Cup quarterfinals).

A pulsating game finished 1-1 and of all people Michel Platini and Socrates missed from the spot. They were joined by Julio Cesar, which paved the way for a French win. The last strike by Amoros hit the post and rebounded off the keepers back into the net. Some claimed the shot should have been retaken, but the rules were not clear on that matter. During the game, interestingly, Zico missed a penalty which could have avoided the shootout altogether.

5. Barcelona - Steaua 0-0, 0-2 (1986, Champions' Cup finals)

It's hard to remember a team which failed to score both in 120 minutes and in the penalty shootout. Barcelona achieved just that against the Romanian underdogs. An ethnic German in Steaua's ranks, Helmut Duckadam, saved all four shots. Barca's Urruti was not bad either, stopping two shots. Under other circumstances he would have been a hero, but for his dismal mates who could not find the way to the net.

6. Holland - Italy 0-0, 1-3 (2000, Euro semifinals)

The Netherlands played the best soccer to the semifinal stage, but had spent most of their ammunition during the annihilation of Yugoslavia in the previous round (6-1). Against Italy, playing with ten men for 97 minutes, the Dutch failed to convert two penalties in regulation time and then three more in the ensuing shootout. Francesco Toldo turned out to be the hero with four saves overall, while Frank de Boer managed to miss one in the game and another in the shootout.

7. England - Germany 1-1, 5-6 (1996, Euro semifinals)

"Football's coming home" was the catchphrase of the European Championships held in England. It must have fallen on deaf German ears as they carbon-copied the infamous penalty shootout from six years before. Gareth Southgate was brave enough to approach the spot, but never looked confident enough to score. His effort was saved by Andy Köpke and England officially entered the twilight zone of penalty kicks.

8. Roma - Liverpool 1-1, 2-4 (1984, Champions' Cup finals)

Roma had the home advantage and almost 70,000 fervent fans behind them, but Liverpool had Bruce Grobbelaar. His wobbly knees confounded Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani into sending the balls away from the target. Alan Kennedy, the same man who scored the winner against Real Madrid three years earlier, converted the crucial penalty that gave the Reds their fourth European Cup.

9. Brazil - Italy 0-0, 3-2 (1994, World Cup finals)

A surprisingly negative but effective Brazil came out on top in the United States, 24 years after their last triumph achieved precisely against Italy. Back then five goals were scored in the ninety minutes, compared with zero in 120 minutes in Pasadena. Illustrious names such as Franco Baresi, Daniele Massaro and Roberto Baggio sent their shots either into Taffarel or wide. Dunga's goal proved to be decisive for Brazil in this supremely unattractive game.

10. W. Germany - France 3-3, 5-4 (1982, World Cup semifinals)

One of the most exciting games ever. France came from 0-1 down to 3-1 midway through the extra time, only to succumb to the never-surrendering Germans. Massime Bossis made the crucial miss and Horst Hrubesch clinched the winner. Earlier, Toni Schumacher should have been kicked out and suspended for a long, long time for flattening Patrick Battiston but France was denied both the numerical superiority and a clear penalty.

11. Italy - France 1-1, 5-3 (2006, World Cup finals)

We know all about this one, don't we, except what exactly Marco Materazzi said to Zinedine Zidane before that head-butt. The Italians had broken their penalty curse in 2000 against Holland, and went on to confirm their newly gained confidence from the spot against an impressive France. Ironically, the one to miss had to be David Trezeguet, the man who gave the French their second European title against Italy back then in 2000. All five Italians scored and Fabio Grosso had the privilege to clinch the winner.

12. Liverpool - Milan 3-3, 3-2 (2005, Champions League)

Liverpool came back from 0-3 in regulation time against a better Italian side and held out until the penalties. Jerzy Dudek made two illegal saves by moving from the line ahead of the shots by Pirlo and Shevchenko, but his actions were allowed to stand. Serginho also missed for Milan, but his shot went over the bar.

13. Argentina - England 2-2, 4-3 (1998, World Cup second round)

This was the game which made David Beckham an undeserved villain for earning himself a red card for a slight flick at the wily Diego Simeone. A ten-man England could not hold on to Michael Owen's lead and there they were again, faced with the dreaded penalties. Paul Ince and David Batty joined the growing group of England's misfortunate penalty takers.

14. Tottenham - Anderlecht 1-1, 1-1, 4-3 (1984, UEFA Cup finals)

The Belgians reached the final stage by beating Nottingham Forest with the help, as it turned out, of the Spanish referee Guruceta Muro. Well, there they were now against Tottenham, leading by 2-1 on aggregate thanks to a Czerniatynski goal. Graham Roberts gave the Spurs a second chance five minutes from time and Tony Parks made sure of the trophy by saving from Arnor Gudjohnsen (father of Barcelona's Eidur).

15. Liverpool - West Ham 3-3, 3-1 (2006, FA Cup finals)

To win one finals on penalties after a 3-3 draw coming from behind is a rare feat. To win the second consecutive finals in very much the same fashion borders on incredible. Yet again Rafa Benitez' side found themselves behind, this time by 0-2 and 2-3, only to battle through to an eventful draw. Yet again they completed the amazing comeback in the lottery of penalties. Yet again Steven Gerrard was gigantic.
Jose Reina stepped in for Dudek to save Zamora's, Konchesky's and Ferdinand's shots, whereas Hamann, Gerrard and Riise found the back of the net.

16. Bayer Leverkusen - Espanyol 0-3, 3-0, 3-2 (1988, UEFA Cup finals)

The crazy night when the German keeper Rüdiger Vollborn earned himself eternal fame. Espanyol travelled to Leverkusen with a 3-0 cushion. They lost it in 20 minutes of madness in the second half. Then they went 2-0 up on penalties. They lost it too. And they will probably never have another chance at European silverware.

17. Portugal - England 2-2, 6-5 (2004, European Championships quarterfinals)

David Beckham had missed two previous penalties, including one against France in England's opening match of the competition. Still, a captain cannot shirk from his duties so he bravely stepped up to take the first penalty. It backfired as the shot ended on the terraces and the ball was eventually sold on eBay by a Spanish spectator. Eventually Darius Vassel had his penalty saved by Ricardo, who then converted the winner.

18. Arsenal - Manchester United 0-0, 5-4 (2005, FA Cup finals)

United pressed and both Rooney and Van Nistelrooy came close to scoring, but as so many times in the past, the team that spent most of the time defending had a psychological edge during the showdown from the spot. Alex Ferguson must have thought Arsene Wenger had won another mind game against him as Jens Lehmann made a spectacular save from Paul Scholes on his way to snatching the German no. 1 shirt from Oliver Kahn.

19. Red Star Belgrade - Olympique Marseille 0-0, 5-3 (1991, Champions' Cup finals)

Red Star had played some scintillating soccer throughout the campaign, but on this night in Bari they blatantly wasted time waiting for the penalties. And they had a good reason: in the old Yugoslav league all ties had to be decided on penalties, so Red Star had ample opportunity to practice at the end of games about ten times per season. Expectedly, the Serbs converted all five shots, while Manuel Amoros missed his and that was that for Bernard Tapie and his expensive squad.

20. Portugal - England 0-0, 3-1 (2006, World Cup quarterfinals)

Much like David Beckham eight years ago, Wayne Rooney left England undermanned in a World Cup game and once again it helped their rivals come off unbeaten after 120 minutes. The Portuguese suspected this would be enough for them to go through, as penalties had grown into a big, scary monster for England.
So scary that even such fine shots like Lampard and Gerrard messed up their efforts.

Ozren Podnar

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