7 Most Dramatic Penalty Shootouts of All Time

Saturday night’s Euro 2016 quarter-final match ended in heartbreak for the Italians, after they fell to Germany in an intense shootout littered with misses. 

Gianluigi Buffon vs. Manuel Neuer was about as good a goalkeeper match-up as you could have hoped for, but the Italian icon Buffon ended his international career on a bitter note,​ despite his valiant effort. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look back at some of the most thrilling shootout finishes of all time. Enjoy… 

7. World Cup 2010: Uruguay vs. Ghana

Led by the attacking trio of Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan, and Edinson Cavani, Uruguay met Ghana in the quarter-final of the 2010 World Cup. 

After 120 minutes of action, the score was knotted at 1-1, thanks to a shocking play by Suarez, who raised his hand to block what surely would have been the match-winner for Ghana​, earning a straight red card and awarding a penalty to Ghana, which Asamoah Gyan’s kick fatefully bounced off the crossbar. 

Despite Suarez’ absence, Uruguay rode the momentum of the controversial play and won the shootout.

6. World Cup 1990: Argentina vs. Italy

​Argentina and Italy’s semi-final match in the 1990 World Cup was all square after regulation and overtime, setting the stage for a nerve-wracking shootout. The match took place at the stadium of Napoli, Diego Maradona’s club at the time. 

Maradona broke the hearts of the fans that cheered him for years by calmly passing the ball into the net after sending the Italian keeper the wrong way, and Argentina advanced to the final against all odds. 

5. UEFA Champions League 2008: Man Utd vs. Chelsea

​The 2008 Champions League came down to two English sides, as Chelsea met Manchester United in the final. The game ended 1-1 before heading to the penalty spot. 

The first four kicks went smoothly, before a young Cristiano Ronaldo had his shot saved by Petr Cech. However, United were not finished, as Chelsea captain John Terry infamously slipped and badly missed his shot, keeping the match alive. 

Edwin van der Sar made a great save from Nicholas Anelka’s spot kick to seal the game and bring the Champions League title to Manchester.

4. World Cup 2006: France vs. Italy

​The 2006 World Cup final started quickly, with Zinedine Zidane converting a penalty after Marco Materazzi committed a foul in his own box. Materazzi atoned for his mistake by heading Andrea Pirlo’s corner into the net to level the score. 

The most memorable moment of the match came in extra time, when Materazzi provoked Zidane into headbutting him in the chest. 

The French legend was sent off, ending his incredible career in the worst way possible when he was forced to watch helplessly as his team went down in the shootout. 

3. League One 2012: Huddersfield Town vs. Sheffield United

​Huddersfield Town faced off against Sheffield United in the 2012 League One playoff final, with the winner becoming the third team to be promoted to the Championship ahead of the following season. The game was uneventful, going 120 minutes without a goal. 

However, the ensuing shootout was one of the most dramatic affairs in the history of the sport. Huddersfield fell into a huge hole, missing their first three shots as Sheffield scored their first two. 

Incredibly though, the score was levelled at 2-2 to force sudden death. Both teams converted their next five shots, sending the keepers to the spot. Huddersfield’s Alex Smithies scored, and then watched Steve Simonsen’s shot fly over the bar to end the game in their favour. 

2. UEFA Champions League 2005: Liverpool vs AC Milan

​The last two teams standing in the 2005 Champions League were AC Milan and Liverpool, with the former taking the lead within the first minute, and scoring a further two more before halftime to take a commanding 3-0 lead. 

In one of the most infamous comebacks of all time, Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso led their team back into the game, with Alonso tying the score at 3-3, by knocking in the rebound of his own penalty kick. Liverpool went on to win in penalties, completing the “Miracle in Istanbul”. 

1. World Cup 1994: Brazil vs. Italy

​Brazil and Italy met at the 1994 World Cup final with both hoping for their fourth World Cup title, but after a disappointing 120 minutes ended scoreless, the teams went to penalties. 

Italy was carried by star striker Roberto Baggio throughout the tournament, as he scored important goals in just about every game. 

When he stepped up to take the decisive kick, Baggio chipped the ball over the bar, sending Italy home in despair as Brazil took the World Cup trophy. 

The original version of this story which was published by 90min.com Serie A can be viewed here.

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