Football

From Gerrard to Gyan - five players/teams to choke under pressure

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After snooker player Thepchaiya Un-Nooh missed the final pot for a 147 break and £44,000 prize money on Tuesday, we take a look at the top five 21st century moments where footballers let the pressure get the better of them.

Steven Gerrard

Sorry in advance, Liverpool fans. A legend for club and country, the LA Galaxy midfielder was finally set to win the Premier League with his boyhood club in the 2013/14 season until that infamous slip sent Chelsea's Demba Ba through on goal. The rest is history.

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Brendan Rodgers' side's capitulation against Crystal Palace, drawing 3-3 after leading 3-0 for 78 minutes, was the defining moment for fans preparing to celebrate their first ever Premier League title.

Gerrard will always be held in the highest regard by the Anfield faithful, but despite his Champions League medal, he'll always be remembered for 'that slip'.

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Zinedine Zidane

Arguably the best player of his generation, Zinedine Zidane carried France to the 2006 World Cup final against Italy in Berlin.

Winning the trophy eight years previous in 1998 thanks to two Zizou headers, the French side went into the match confident of emulating that achievement.

Les Bleus got off to a strong start thanks to their captain and talisman, beautifully chipping a penalty down the centre to put them 1-0 up in the seventh minute.

However, following an equaliser in the 19th minute from Marco Materazzi, the game went into extra-time.

Despite both players scoring, Zidane and Materazzi are remembered for an incident in the 110th minute. After an unfriendly exchange of words, Zidane head-butted the Italian square in the chest, sending his opponent to the floor sprawling.

His final act as a professional - the iconic image of the Frenchman walking past the trophy - will forever be in World Cup folklore.

France went on to lose 5-3 on penalties, and you would've bet your house on Zidane scoring his.

Asamoah Gyan

You have to feel for Ghana. Facing Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, the Black Stars were drawing 2-2 after 119 minutes and with a free-kick in a dangerous area.

The ball was swung in and headed towards the goal, only for a certain Luis Suarez to blatantly handle the ball on the line. A penalty was awarded and up stepped Asamoah Gyan to take the single most important kick in Ghana's history.

The former Sunderland man was in terrific form in South Africa, already scoring three goals in his first four games of the tournament; the outcome seemed inevitable.

Or not. To Uruguay's - and Suarez's - delight, Gyan blasted the ball into the bar to take the game to penalties.

Credit to Gyan, he stepped up and scored a superb penalty in the shootout, but it ultimately counted for nothing as Ghana went on to lose 4-2.

Arsenal

The year is 2011, and Arsenal are once again flattering to deceive when it comes to challenging for the Premier League title.

A win against Newcastle would have put the Gunners just two points behind Manchester United at the top of the table. The result seemed a foregone conclusion when Arsene Wenger's men went into the half-time break with a 4-0 lead.

However, football really was a game of two halves at St James' Park that day. After Abou Diaby was sent off for an altercation with Joey Barton, the Magpies saw their chance to get back into the game.

Two Leon Best goals either side of a Kevin Nolan penalty began the comeback before Cheick Tiote's left-footed volley secured a point for Alan Pardew's side.

Embarrassing for Wenger, to say the least.

John Terry

'Captain, leader, legend' are words often used to describe much-maligned centre-back, John Terry. However, none of these words sprang to mind after the 2008 Champions League final.

With the game going to penalties, captain Terry took it upon himself to step up and take Chelsea's crucial fifth effort from the spot.

However, a Gerrard-esque slip saw the defender put the ball wide of the post and, after Nicolas Anelka's miss, the Champions League trophy go to Old Trafford.

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Topics:
Liverpool
Steven Gerrard
Premier League
Football

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