Top 10 Best Penalty shootouts in Football History

Top 10 Best Penalty shootouts in Football History

Some people describe penalties as a “lottery,” but that’s not quite right. Unlike a lottery, both the penalty taker and the goalkeeper need a significant amount of skill. Interestingly, there was a time when football matches were decided by drawing lots. That includes the European Championship semifinal in the late 1960s.

In those days, tied finals had to be replayed with several examples available but in the modern day, that’s not the case. Penalties might seem cruel when it’s your team involved, but from an objective standpoint, they add a unique blend of tension and excitement to the game.

The penalty shootout, while a tough way to exit a competition, brings an unmatched level of drama and suspense, making it a thrilling spectacle for fans. Thus while this list may not be perfect, it does contain arguably the best penalty shootouts in recent football history.

1) Brazil vs Italy: 1994 FIFA World Cup final (3-2)

Top 10 Best Penalty shootouts in Football History
1994 World Cup final (Credits: X)

A grand Italian football in the form of Roberto Baggio, a revenge match after Brazil beat them in the 1970 final and a penalty shootout. The stage seemed set, Italy and Brazil both missed their first efforts Albertini, Romario, Evani and Branco all scored.

Then Daniele Massoro and Dunga fired in and that left one man with the entire game resting on his shoulders. Roberto Baggio stepped up, fired it into the roof of the stadium and Brazil walked away with the trophy.

2) West Germany vs England: 1990 World Cup semi-finals (5-3)

Top 10 Best Penalty shootouts in Football History
1990 World Cup semi-final (Credits: X)

Italia 90 was a superb time to be an England fan and even now, many look back at that tournament very fondly despite everything. But even then, the stage was set as England reached their first World Cup final since 1966 and despite everything, it led to a penalty shootout.

The Germans scored five but England managed to hit the net thrice as Stuart Pearce, Chris Waddle and Peter Shilton missed their chances with Gary Lineker, Peter Beardsley and David Platt converting their attempts. This one surely goes 2nd in the top penalty shootouts in football.

3) Brazil vs France: 1986 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals (3-4)

Top 10 Best Penalty shootouts in Football History
1986 World Cup quarter-final (Credits; X)

Even Pele described this as the match of the century and the scorching heat did little to stop the two sides in a chance-filled game. The flamboyant Brazilian thrived and scored but Michel Platini led France to equalize to send the game into extra-time.

Even that couldn’t separate the two in a tightly fought battle and it eventually led to a shootout. The legendary Socrates missed Brazil’s first, Platini missed France’s fourth but luckily Luis Fernandez kept his cool and scored to win the clash.

4) Olympiakos vs AEK Athens: 2009 Greek Cup Final (15-14)

Top 10 Best Penalty shootouts in Football History
2009 Greek Cup Final (Credits: X)

An iconic game even remembered now simply because of the fact that not one or ten but a total of over 30 penalties were taken with each team going over the normal team limit. But before the shootout, the game had remained a 4-4 draw and before leading to the penalty shootouts.

Then stepped up the penalty takers, a total of 29 players and between them, they scored 34 times with the winning kick coming from Olympiakos goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis in the 17th round.

Also Read: Top 10 Best Goalkeepers of all time

5) Manchester United vs Chelsea: 2008 Champions League final (6-5)

Top 10 Best Penalty shootouts in Football History
2008 UCL Final (Credits: X)

In the first ever match-up between two English sides in a Champions League final, a lot was promised and while normal time and extra time gave fans just one goal apiece, the penalty shootout did not disappoint.

Cristiano Ronaldo missed the third kick, giving Chelsea an advantage but then a legendary, and now iconic, John Terry slip meant he missed. It gave the Red Devils a chance and after Chelsea’s Nicolas Anelka missed the seventh kick, the final was all theirs.

6) Czechoslovakia vs West Germany: Euro 1976 (5-3)

While the 1976 European Championship had only four teams participating, it didn’t make the tournament any less exciting. It did mean that each team would only play in two matches and after West Germany and Czechoslovakia won their games, they squared up in the final.

A 2-2 draw meant that fans were happy but it also led to penalties. But given the Germans’ ability in a shoot-out now, few would believe that they ended up on the losing end after Ulrich Hoeneß missed his kick.

7) England vs Italy: 2020 Euros (3-2)

Recent, iconic and the last final an English team reached with many believing they could have beaten Italy, and maybe, on another day, that might be true. But on that day in Wembley, it was a tight game beyond every measure, well into extra-time. Then came penalties, and Italy missed their second, England scored their second but missed the three after that while Italy scored two more times to win.

8) Liverpool vs AC Milan: 2005 Champions League final (3-2)

Top 10 Best Penalty shootouts in Football History
Liverpool win the 2005 UCL final (Credits: X)

The 2005 Champions League final, now known as a miracle in Istanbul and many only remember Liverpool’s incredible second half comeback. But the game is also known for it’s penalty shootout with Jerzy Dudek’s antics playing a key role.

The Reds scored their first two while Milan missed the same but scored twice to bring it to 3-2. That left only Andriy Shevchenko, who scored in the 2003 final, but his penalty went right down into Dudek’s hands, giving Liverpool the win. The presence of such big names in both the teams, especially AC Milan, this Final is among the best penalty shootouts in history.

9) Chile vs Argentina: 2015 Copa America final (4-1)

Top 10 Best Penalty shootouts in Football History
Chile Vs Argentina, Copa America 2015 Final (Credits: X)

While Lionel Messi has now won a major trophy with Argentina, after the 2014 World Cup, this was the first chance that Messi and co had a chance to break his duck at an international crown. But in their way stood Alexis Sanchez and a now iconic Chile side.

In a well fought contest, the game led to penalties where Chile scored first before Messi found the net. Unfortunately, that would be the last one for Argentina as Chile scored the next three while Argentina missed both their kicks to hand Chile their first international trophy. The fact that former teammates Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi met with different fates, makes this final a part of the top 10 best penalty shootouts.

10) AC Milan vs Juventus: 2003 Champions League final (3-2)

Much like the 2005 final, this was the first time in history that two Italian sides met in a Champions League final, and who else by AC Milan and Juventus? But after 120 minutes, Old Trafford remained scoreless which led to penalties. But five of the first 10 takers failed to score but luckily for AC Milan, three of those were from their side including Andriy Shevchenko who scored the last one to win it.

Also Read: What led Real Madrid to win the UEFA Champions League final against Dortmund?