Five of the Worst Penalty Misses in Football

A penalty kick is no gimme but here are some of the worst that have ever been taken by professional footballers.

Chris Waddle being consoled by Lothar Matthaus after his penalty miss at Italia 90

In theory, taking a penalty should be relatively straightforward for a professional footballer but the pressure and expectation that can surround a spot kick can lead to even the most talented players fluffing their lines.

We have taken a look back through the history books to uncover some of the worst penalty misses of all time and the consequences that came from those failings.

Roberto Baggio – Brazil vs ITALY 1994

Baggio was the darling of Italian football during the 1990s and having won the Ballon d’Or in 1993, he spearheaded the Azzurri’s run through to the World Cup final in the USA the following year, scoring five goals, including a brace in their semi-final victory over Bulgaria.

That set up a final against Brazil, but there was nothing to separate the two teams after 120 minutes of play in Los Angeles, with the match going to penalties after finishing 0-0.

Man of the moment Baggio was Italy’s fifth penalty taker and he needed to score to keep his side’s hopes alive otherwise Brazil would be crowned world champions.

Nobody was expecting the then best player in the world to fail from the spot, but that is exactly what happened and in spectacular fashion, as Baggio ballooned his effort over the crossbar and with it, Italy’s hopes of glory were gone.

John Terry – Manchester United vs CHELSEA 2008

Chelsea were on the cusp of winning their first ever Champions League title in 2008, with captain Terry knowing if he converted his penalty in their shootout with Manchester United, then the trophy would be heading to Stamford Bridge.

The two teams had played out a 1-1 draw during the final in Moscow, but after four penalties apiece in the resulting shootout, it was advantage Chelsea, as United star Cristiano Ronaldo had been the only player to miss.

Next up for Chelsea was their leader Terry, but expectation soon turned to despair, as the central defender slipped as he made contact with the ball and he saw his effort agonisingly strike the post before flying wide.

It got worse for Chelsea as Nicolas Anelka also went on to miss, handing the title to United.

Terry and Chelsea did eventually taste European glory by overcoming Bayern Munich in the final four years later (also via a penalty shootout), while the Blues are the current Champions League holders after beating Manchester City in last month’s final.

Simone Zaza – Germany vs ITALY 2016

It has become a modern phenomenon for teams to make substitutions in the closing seconds of extra time so they can get one of their main penalty takers onto the pitch.

That is exactly what Italy did during the final stages of their Euro 2016 quarter-final clash with Germany, as the two teams were locked together at 1-1 and heading for a shootout.

Then Sassuolo forward Zaza was the man that was brought on and he stepped up for Italy’s second penalty, but this was no ordinary spot kick as he took an age to strike the ball, running on the spot before blasting it wide of Manuel Neuer’s goal.

It looked like Zaza would get away with his error, as Germany proceeded to miss their next two, but Graziano Pelle, Leonardo Bonucci and Matteo Darmian also failed to convert for Antonio Conte’s side, as Italy were eventually eliminated 6-5 on penalties.

David Beckham – Turkey vs ENGLAND 2003

England went into their final qualifying match for Euro 2004 knowing a draw against nearest rivals Turkey would see them advance through to the tournament proper as group winners.

With the score at 0-0, the Three Lions were handed an opportunity to calm their nerves when referee Pierluigi Collina awarded them a penalty for a foul on Steven Gerrard by Tugay.

Captain Beckham stepped up to take the resulting spot kick, but he slipped as he made contact with the ball, sending it flying over Rustu Recber’s crossbar and Turkey, who were aggrieved by the awarding of the penalty, were quick to rub the miss in the then Real Madrid star’s face.

A tense battle continued from there, but England were able to hold on to the goalless draw that sent them through to the finals, while Turkey missed out altogether, as they preceded to lose in the playoffs to Latvia,

However, it was not the end of Beckham’s penalty woes, as he also missed during the finals against hosts Portugal, but this time England could not recover and they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage.

Robert Pires/Thierry Henry – ARSENAL vs Manchester City 2005

In October 2005 Arsenal were one of the top teams in England, while Manchester City were a run-of-the-mill mid-table Premier League side.

The Gunners were certainly confident of beating their opponents when they met at Highbury and they led heading into the closing stages thanks to a penalty from winger Robert Pires.

Arsene Wenger’s side were then awarded another spot kick and again Pires was the man to take it, only this time instead of shooting for goal, he tried to lay a pass on for teammate Thierry Henry.

An unusual idea and one Pires could not execute, as he missed the ball, leaving Henry bewildered, while referee Mike Riley proceeded to award City a free kick.

City were not happy with Pires or Henry, citing a lack of respect shown by the Arsenal players, but the Gunners did hold on to win the match 1-0, saving the blushes of the illustrious duo and perhaps the wrath of their manager.

A fountain of knowledge on football, Tom offers a particular in-depth expertise in EFL and European leagues.
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