Courtois, Neuer, Buffon: Champions League’s 13 greatest goalkeeper performances ever

Thibaut Courtois was brilliant in the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool

Thibaut Courtois put on a goalkeeping clinic to ensure Real Madrid beat Liverpool to lift the 2022 Champions League title.

Breaking a record set back in 2003/04, the Belgian made nine saves to shut out Liverpool in an incredible individual performance that rallied his side and pushed them over the line for a 14th time in the competition.

Seriously, Courtois was unbeatable in the Stade de France. Claiming crosses, shutting down angles, or even going full stretch to tip shots around his posts, there wasn’t anything that was too much to ask of him as he flew around his box to deny onslaughts throughout the evening.

While the critics will say Liverpool should’ve done better with their finishing, there’s only so much you can do when every shot on goal is being gathered or patted away by the man between the sticks, seemingly with ease.

It’s goalkeeper performances like this that keep teams alive in the biggest games on the footballing calendar, but are almost always the most overlooked, which goalkeepers are unfortunately used to at this point.

So, in an attempt to break the chain of only noticing poor goalkeeper performances, we at GIVEMESPORT have pulled together a list of some of the finest displays between the sticks in the history of the Champions League, off the back of Courtois’ 2022 final heroics.

13. Edwin van der Sar vs Barcelona (2011)

In the final game of his playing career – aged 40, by the way – Van der Sar couldn’t inspire Manchester United to take revenge on Barcelona for the 2009 Champions League final defeat.

That wasn’t a reflection on his game, though, which was about as good as it could be in the 3-1 defeat. The Dutchman made a good account of himself once again, making eight saves in his last outing as a player.

Van der Sar kept United in the game
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 28: Edwin van der Sar of Manchester United in action during the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England. Edwin van der Sar will retire after the Champions League final. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

12. Manuel Neuer vs Manchester United (2011)

Sir Alex Ferguson already had one eye on a potential replacement for Van der Sar when Manuel Neuer put in the perfect audition against United in the round before the final in 2011.

Neuer was superb as the Red Devils won 2-0 away in Germany, keeping them out for 67 minutes before they finally penetrated his goal in an eventual 2-0 win in the semi-final first leg. Neuer was already headed to Bayern Munich at the end of that season, and his performance was a sign of things to come over the next decade.

Neuer impressed against Man Utd
GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY – APRIL 26: Manuel Neuer of Schalke tangles with Javier Hernandez of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Manchester United at Veltins Arena on April 26, 2011 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

11. Gianluigi Buffon vs Barcelona (2020)

42 at the time, Buffon proved that age is but a number with a stunning performance away to Barcelona in the 2020/21 Champions League group stages.

A game whose narrative was dominated by the Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry being reignited, Buffon was instrumental as the Old Lady wound up 3-0 winners, making seven saves and, notably, denying Messi seven times throughout the night.

The best goalkeeper performances in the Champions League
BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 08: Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group G stage match between FC Barcelona and Juventus at Camp Nou on December 08, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. Sporting stadiums around Spain remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

10. Alisson Becker vs Tottenham (2019)

The narrative around the 2019 Champions League final remains that it was endlessly boring and that Spurs simply didn’t do enough to claw the game back after going behind to Liverpool.

But what that doesn’t acknowledge is how quietly good a performance Alisson had to ensure the Reds got over the line. When Tottenham began to pepper the goal in the closing stages of the game, the Brazilian showed his quality by keeping them out, racking up eight saves.

Alisson turned it up a level when needed
MADRID, SPAIN – JUNE 01: Alisson of Liverpool dives to make a save during the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

9. Edouard Mendy vs Real Madrid (2021)

In an incredible run to the Champions League final in 2021, Mendy showed his form for Chelsea with an all-time performance against Real Madrid.

Showcasing his positioning, reach and focus, Mendy was superb, keeping the game to 1-1 and halting Karim Benzema just the one goal. His impeccable form was key as Chelsea won the Champions League that year.

Mendy was impeccable against Real Madrid in 2021
MADRID, SPAIN – APRIL 27: Edouard Mendy of Chelsea looks on during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Real Madrid and Chelsea FC at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on April 27, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. Sporting stadiums around Spain remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

8. Manuel Neuer vs Real Madrid (2017)

Despite Bayern Munich losing 2-1 on the night in April 2017, Neuer did his absolute best to stop it being a quarter-final thumping.

Making 10 saves, Neuer was everywhere and did his absolute best to keep out the likes of Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. One save in particular was outstanding, outwitting Ronaldo and standing tall to put a strong palm behind a shot from point blank.

The greatest goalkeeper performances in the Champions League
MADRID, SPAIN – APRIL 18: Manuel Neuer of Bayern Muenchen looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between Real Madrid CF and FC Bayern Muenchen at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 18, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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7. Jan Oblak vs Liverpool (2020)

It’s strange to be complimenting a goalkeeper’s performance in a game that ended 3-2, but Atletico Madrid’s 2020 visit to Liverpool was one for the ages.

Oblak was a force, clambering around his box and getting a hand to everything he could for his side, dragging them to a dramatic 3-2 victory away from home.

Oblak was everywhere at Anfield
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – MARCH 11: Jan Oblak of Atletico Madrid makes a save during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Liverpool FC and Atletico Madrid at Anfield on March 11, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

6. Keylor Navas vs Barcelona (2021)

Earning Man of the Match for a truly incredible last 16 display at the Parc des Princes, Navas saved a penalty kick from Messi and kept out a further 10 efforts on target against Barcelona.

Long range, short range, Navas had it all covered. It left La Blaugrana completely bereft of ideas as they crashed out of the competition.

Navas put in incredible displays for PSG
PARIS, FRANCE – APRIL 28: Goalkeeper Keylor Navas of Paris Saint-Germain reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City at Parc des Princes on April 28, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

5. Keylor Navas vs Bayern Munich (2021)

He was at it again in the round immediately after, was Navas, this time pulling off heroics against Bayern Munich.

This time away in Germany, Navas pulled off another fantastic 10 save performance to ensure PSG hung onto a 3-2 victory to take back home for the second leg of the last eight. Incredibly underrated keeper.

The greatest goalkeeper performances in Champions League history
MUNICH, GERMANY – APRIL 07: Keylor Navas of Paris Saint-Germain stretches to keep the ball in play during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between FC Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain at Allianz Arena on April 07, 2021 in Munich, Germany. Sporting stadiums around Germany remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

4. Joe Hart vs Barcelona (2015)

Heralded as ‘one of the finest Champions League performances by a goalkeeper’ by L’Equipe at the time, Hart’s performance was absolutely sensational.

The England stopper was on another level, doing whatever he could to try and inspire a way through the competition for City. And while that didn’t happen, he can take pride in the fact that he made one-on-one saves against each of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez on three occasions, each.

Hart put in a memorable performance against Barcelona
BARCELONA, SPAIN – MARCH 18: Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona lifts the ball over Joe Hart of Manchester City to score the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 18, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

3. Petr Cech vs Barcelona (2012)

Goalkeepers just love turning up against Barcelona, it seems. Cech was no different, finding superhuman levels between the sticks in Chelsea’s historic 2012 European campaign.

With the Blues down to 10 men, Cech was in ridiculously inspired form to keep Barcelona to just two goals on the night, which paid dividends at the death as Fernando Torres’ late goal for 2-2 sent Chelsea to the final.

Cech was insane for Chelsea in 2012
BARCELONA, SPAIN – APRIL 24: Goalkeeper Petr Cech of Chelsea reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC at Camp Nou on April 24, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

2. Gianluigi Buffon vs AC Milan (2003)

While his performance wasn’t enough to see Juventus win the competition, Buffon’s highlight reel in 2003’s all-Italian final was unforgettable, and deserved a Champions League.

A 120 minute bore-draw final was admittedly a forgetful affair, but Buffon was the man keeping the Rossoneri at bay with a tremendous performance in the final, dragging Juve as far as he possibly could, before losing out on penalties.

The greatest goalkeeper performances in the Champions League
TURIN – APRIL 19: Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus in action during the Serie A match between Juventus and Roma, played at the Stadio Delle Alpi, Turin, Italy on April 19, 2003. (Photo by Grazia Neri/Getty Images)

1. Petr Cech vs Bayern Munich (2012)

Cech wasn’t done after his heroics against Barcelona, and carried his unworldly form into the Champions League final, crucially for Chelsea.

The game, which finished 1-1, went all the way to penalties thanks to yet more heroics from Chelsea’s legendary stopper, who saved a penalty from Arjen Robben in extra time to see the Blues through. He then saved two penalties in the shootout to help his club to their first ever Champions League. Unreal.

Cech carried Chelsea to the Champions League
MUNICH, GERMANY – MAY 19: Ivica Olic of Bayern Muenchen misses to score his penalty against goalkeeper Petr Cech of Chelsea during UEFA Champions League Final between FC Bayern Muenchen and Chelsea at the Fussball Arena München on May 19, 2012 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

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