Two fantastic nights of action in the Champions League, and two results that could have been so very different if players had managed to do the business from the penalty spot.
That’s the summary from Barcelona’s clash against Chelsea at the Nou Camp, and Real Madrid’s subsequent defeat to Bayern Munich on penalties at the Santiago Bernaebeu.
From 12 yards out, the taker is always the favourite, whilst a goalkeeper has nothing to lose as they look to become a hero for their club. In the case of Manuel Neuer, that was certainly the case with Bayern Munich last night.
But more often than not, a player will miss the target when the pressure is really on. And that’s what happened to Lionel Messi when he got the chance to put Barca in the clear on Tuesday night, hitting the crossbar rather than the back of net.
In honour of three of world football’s very best - Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka - missing their penalties in the big games, GiveMeFootball decided to select its five biggest misses from the spot. Can you think of any others that didn’t, but should have made the cut?
Roberto Baggio – Italy v Brazil (World Cup ’94)
Plenty of misses from the spot after a dire 0-0 final in America, but it was the divine ponytail who fired over the bar with the last kick to give Brazil another famous win.
One of the players of the tournament, Baggio stepped up fifth for Italy with the score at 3-2 to the Selecao, and subsequently blazed high into the Pasadena Rose Bowl stands.
The first World Cup final to be decided on penalties, it was a moment that would define Baggio’s career despite some of the great things he achieved for both club and country.
Gareth Southgate – England v Germany (Euro ’96)
Where would a top five penalty misses piece be without someone failing for England when it mattered most?
After Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle failed at Italia ’90, it fell to Southgate to end the hopes of the Three Lions on home soil six years later, as football ‘came home’ but then swiftly left for Germany on penalties.
England actually won a shootout against Spain in the quarter-final, but when it came to a sudden death moment against Germany, it was defender Southgate who had to face the heartache.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy – Manchester United v Arsenal (Premier League ‘03/’04)
At the time, the two clubs were easily the biggest in English football, with the Gunners and Red Devils trading blows at the top of the Premier League table for several seasons.
And, whilst this game took place in September, it proved crucial on the road to Arsenal completing their ‘invincible’ season, winning 26 games and drawing 12 as they beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to the title.
With the scores level at 0-0, United were given a controversial penalty in injury-time after Patrick Vieira had earlier seen red for a kick-out at Van Nistelrooy, but the Dutch striker made it three consecutive misses from the spot after he rattled the underside of the crossbar.
Wild scenes of celebration followed, with the Gunners over-stepping the mark in goading the forward – Martin Keown the chief protagonist after he struck the player with a stray arm. The pushing and shoving began immediately as the full-time whistle blew moments after the miss.
John Terry – Chelsea v Manchester United (Champions League ‘07/’08)
Before the Chelsea captain’s night to forget at the Nou Camp, there was the penalty miss in Moscow that cost Avram Grant a famous win against the Red Devils in the Champions League.
After a 1-1 draw on the night, Cristiano Ronaldo missed his spot-kick to put Chelsea within touching distance of the trophy, but his crucial slip sent the ball crashing against the outside of the post, leaving the England international on the floor and in tears.
Nicolas Anelka went on to miss his penalty in sudden-death to hand United a second European Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson, but it was the miss of Terry which was remembered best from a wet night at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Asamoah Gyan – Uruguay v Ghana (World Cup ’10)
Ghana appeared destined for the World Cup semi-finals, when at 1-1 in their match against Uruguay, Luis Suarez handballed on the line to give his country the slimmest of chances.
With the hopes of Africa on his shoulders, Asamoah Gyan stepped-up with the match in the dying moments, but blazed his spot-kick onto the top of the bar and into the South African night sky.
With only ten-men after the then-Ajax striker’s dismissal, Uruguay stuck to defence in extra-time, and then sent the Black Stars packing in the shootout. Ironically, Gyan scored the first for his country after 120 minutes – but the damage was already done.
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