5 Greatest Penalty Shoot-Outs in International Football History

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With Antonin Panenka's winning spot-kick in the final of Euro 1976, that shootout must go down as one of the greatest ever...surely?

Knockout football keeps fans on the edge of their seats and nothing provides more drama than when a match is decided on penalties.

There have been some memorable spot kick duels down the years, many painful to England supporters, and here we take a look at the five greatest ever shootouts.

Cameroon v Ivory Coast (2006 Africa Cup of Nations)

Let’s kick things off with an epic when Ivory Coast came out on top to reach the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, thanks to a howler from one of the world’s best at the time.

After the match ended 1-1 after extra time, every player, including the goalkeepers, scored in the shootout – with Cameroon’s Alioum Saidou benefitting from a retaken effort after Jean-Jacques Tizie had strayed off his line – to send the contest into a second round of penalties.

Samuel Eto’o, who was tearing up with Barcelona at the time, then blazed his second effort into the stands, allowing Didier Drogba to stroke home the winning kick to send the Elephants through.

Italy v France (2006 World Cup)

Italy have a mixed record in shootouts having beaten England to win Euro 2020 while they lost to Brazil in the 1994 World Cup final. The Azzurri feature in this list though for their success over France at the 2006 World Cup.

French superstar Zinedine Zidane was shown a red card earlier in the match, but Les Bleus managed to stay in the game and force a shootout.

Italy covered all five of their spot kicks, with Fabio Grosso notching the winning strike, after David Trezeguet’s earlier miss. The victory ended Italy’s 24-year wait for another world crown.

Netherlands U21s v England U21s (2007 U21 European Championships)

England don’t have a fantastic record in shootouts and this particular defeat would have been especially tough to take for the man in charge, Stuart Pearce, who has endured a roller-coaster of emotions over penalties, having missed the crucial kick in 1990 before gaining degrees of redemption at Euro 96.

England had made it through the group stages to set up a meeting with the Netherlands, although the teams could not be split with the game ending 1-1 after extra time.

There then followed an extraordinary shootout in which the young Three Lions were seemingly in control with Justin Hoyte and Nigel Reo-Coker both missing chances to put England through to the final.

With the scored locked at 12-12 Matt Derbyshire spurned a third opportunity for Pearce’s side to progress before Anton Ferdinand’s miss with the next effort meant the Dutch triumphed 13-12, before going on to beat Serbia 4-1 in the final.

West Germany v France (1982 World Cup)

This was a final packed full of entertainment. The game finished 3-3 after extra-time and that wasn’t where the drama ended. The shootout was level at 4-4, with one missed by each side, and that meant sudden death.

France’s Maxime Bossis shot was saved and Horst Hrubesch stepped up and won the trophy for West Germany.

It marked the first occasion that a penalty shootout had decided a game at the World Cup.

Czechoslovakia v West Germany (Euro 1976)

This penalty shootout has got to be up there as it was the first time a major final was decided in this fashion, while it was also a real David v Goliath upset as Czechoslovakia had not made it out of the group stage four years previously, while they had also failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup.

Standing in Vaclav Jezek’s side’s way were the reigning European and world champions, West Germany, with few giving the underdogs a chance.

What perhaps makes this shootout even more special is the fact that it spawned the “Panenka” penalty, named after the man who, in rather cheeky and previously unseen fashion, chipped his kick down the centre of the goal to secure the trophy, Antonin Panenka.

An experienced sports journalist, Henry’s knowledge spans across a number of different areas, including darts and snooker.
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