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The Most memorable penalty shoot-outs of the Modern Age

September 08, 2015

- Grant Whittington

In some respects, penalty shoot-outs are the worst way to settle a game of football. Thrilling for the neutrals and nerve-shredding for those involved, it seems strange that the sport’s most decisive games should hinge on composure and luck than skill and aptitude. Still, the nature of the medium should detract from the fact that penalty shoot-outs have provided some unbelievable entertainment in the last 50 years, as hearts are broken and dreams realised in a matter of moments.

For England fans, it’s a familiar feeling, but there have been plenty of thrilling and memorable shoot-outs throughout the world in various competitions. We take a look at three penalty shoot-outs that are impossible to forget…

England v West Germany (World Cup semi-final, 1990)

The World Cup in 1990 was a turgid tournament in many respects, although it did see England mount their best challenge for global domination since winning the tournament back in 1966.

Against arch-rivals West Germany, England arguably shaded a close encounter with Gary Linekar’s clinical finish cancelling out a deflected Andreas Brehme free-kick. The game ultimately went to penalties, and after three successful kicks England were eliminated after cruel misses by Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle. History was to be repeated in the semi-finals of the European Championships at Wembley six years later, when Gareth Southgate’s miss proved decisive.

Manchester United v Chelsea (European Champions League Final, 2008)

This game stood out as the first all-English Champions League final, as the top two Premier League sides competed from Europe’s premier prize in the relentless rain of Moscow. After dominating the first-half and missing countless chances, United led through Cristiano Ronaldo’s header before Frank Lampard scrambled a fortunate equaliser. In the shoot-out, Ronaldo was the only player to miss in the first set of nine, giving Chelsea skipper John Terry the chance to settle the tie with the Blues’ fifth penalty. He cruelly slipped and slammed his spot-kick wide, however, and after Edwin Van der Sar saved Nicolas Anelka’s effort two rounds later the title was United’s.

Brazil v Italy (World Cup Final, 1994)

Four years after hosting the World Cup and introducing the exciting talent Roberto Baggio onto the global stage, Italy was a different proposition in the USA. An early defeat to Ireland and several poor performances meant that they struggled throughout the tournament, only to be inspired by the individual brilliance and match-winning qualities of the pony-tailed Baggio.

It is this fact that made the penalty shoot-out with Brazil in the final so cruel, as Baggio ballooned his spot-kick over the bar to concede defeat to the yellow and gold’s. The fact that the shoot-out came after a 0-0 draw was soon forgotten, as neutrals around the world shared in Baggie’s pain and misfortune.

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