Top Five: Agonising misses

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Tottenham fans will have woken up this morning still trembling into their coffee after the events of yesterday at the Etihad Stadium – but how different it could have been.


As Jermain Defoe lunged desperately to latch on to Gareth Bale’s tempting low cross, Harry Redknapp, Joe Jordan and every member of the Tottenham bench as well as the travelling Spurs support rose to toast what they believed was the winning goal, only to gasp in horror as the ball rolled hopelessly wide.


Then up stepped Mario Balotelli to compound their woes after Ledley King gave away a foolish penalty. Cue floods of tears.


Any Tottenham fans still smarting from Sunday can take solace in this little lot – they’re not the first team to miss a crucial chance in the dying embers of the game and certainly won’t be the last.


Chris Iwelumo, 2008 World Cup Qualifier v Norway


Iwelumo had his chance to claim his place in Scottish football history, but fluffed his lines, and on his debut no less.


In a crucial World Cup qualifier against Norway and with the game delicately poised at 0-0, the ball is flashed across by Gary Naysmith with Imelumo in the middle of the six yard box. The goal is wide open. He misses and Scotland go on to fail to qualify for the Word Cup. Again.


Paul Gascoigne, Euro 1996 v Germany (6.22 minutes in)


Probably the most heartbreaking miss of all time for an Englishman – a genuine ‘what might have been’ moment.


Football was close to coming home in the summer of 1996, and England had roared to the semi-finals of the European Championship on home soil only to be confronted by the auld enemy, Germany.


The game is in extra-time at 1-1. Eight minutes of the first half of extra time has elapsed and the ball is played across the face of goal with Gascoigne charging into tap it home, only to agonisingly miss the ball by a matter of inches. Germany went on to win on Penalties and England’s hopes of a major trophy evaporated yet again. 


Ryan Giggs, 2003 F.A Cup v Arsenal


Crowned as one of the greatest moments of Ryan Giggs’ illustrious career, the Welsh Wizard’s dazzling goal against Arsenal in Manchester United’s 1999 F.A Cup semi-final has gone down in history as one of the old competition’s finest ever goals. This moment however, doesn’t exactly rank alongside that

In fact, it is generally regarded as the one of the worst misses of all time, made infinitely worse by the fact Arsenal went on to knock his side out of the competition before beating Southampton in the final.


Giggs was clear through on goal after a long David Beckham pass that put him through, before rounding the on-rushing David Seaman and Sol Campbell to safely tuck the ball in the back of the net and put his side through at the expense of their great rivals. Except he missed the open goal.


Andriy Shevchenko, 2005 Champions League Final, v Liverpool (1.56 in)


Missing an easy chance in perhaps the biggest (certainly the most lucrative) game of football of the year is certain to haunt a player for some time, but when it is in perhaps the most thrilling Champions League final of them all, then it is likely to linger a little longer.


You all know they story by now – Milan race into a three goal lead only for Liverpool to fight back, but the story could have been different if Shevchenko didn’t fluff his lines.


The Ukrainian forward’s headed effort was well saved by Jerzy Dudek but he could only palm the ball back out to Shevchenko’s feet with the game nearing its conclusion - the greatest comeback off all time about to stopped in its tracks. The former Chelsea man hit it straight at Dudek with the whole of the goal to aim at. Was it a brilliant save or a an agonising miss? You decide.


Kanu, 2004 v Middlesbrough


It’s the last minute of the game. The scoreline is 2-1 and your main striker has the chance to pull a point out of what should have been a defeat. Better yet he is two yards from goal with the goalkeeper nowhere to be seen.


Ok, so maybe West Brom v Middlesbrough isn’t quite as big a game as some of the ones featured in this list but Kanu’s woeful miss has all the ingredients of an classic agonising miss.


Kanu could have salvaged something from the game as the ball bobbled to him no more than two yards out and literally seconds remaining, yet somehow he lobbed the ball over the bar in a miss then Baggies boss Bryan Robson described as ‘almost impossible’.

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Tottenham Hotspur
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Jermain Defoe

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