Top Five Memorable World Cup Penalty Shootouts We Won’t Forget


Every sport has its do-or-die moments. In football, we have the sudden death overtime which brings us fans out of our seats. In basketball and hockey, there are overtime periods given for one side to pull out on top. Additionally, there are extra innings in baseball where teams duel it out until the end. Likewise, the game of soccer has an overtime period after the initial ninety minutes to determine a winner. If neither team can pull ahead, the game goes into a penalty shootout. This is a tense situation in any soccer game. However, the magnitude of the game is magnified when it’s a World Cup match. Pride and reputation is on the line as fans throw their support behind their nation’s footballers. Even if you’re not a fan, you become one when your team is playing .. and chances are you will be tuned in.

Here are five classic shootouts that the casual soccer fan likely won’t ever forget.

5. Argentina-England 1998

It was the second round of the 1998 World Cup as bitter rivals Argentina and England would meet again. Argentina was led by stars such as Javier Zanetti and goalkeeper Carlos Roa. And on the other side, England was led by a young David Beckham and an 18-year old rising star in Michael Owen. Owen would score a spectacular goal in the first half and Beckham would eventually be booted off with a red card, leaving the England squad with 10 men.

The match was 2-2 at halftime and would stay the same way up until the end of the game. Penalty kicks ensued, and a Carlos Roa save on the last kick from England’s David Batty would propel Argentina to the victory

4. Germany-Argentina 2006

This game seemed like it was Argentina’s for the taking. Roberto Ayala put the Argentina squad up 1-0 in the 49th minute. With the 2006 World Cup being held in Germany, the host team was minutes away from elimination before striker Miroslav Klose was able to net the game up at 1. All of a sudden, the Argentinians had to get back to attack mode. Neither team scored in the remaining minutes nor the overtime period that ensued, leading the game to a tense penalty shootout. The shootout went to the home team in a 4-2 effort as goalkeeper Jens Lehmann preserved the win for the home team by saving Esteban Cambiasso’s shot.

Upset about the result, the Argentinians did not go down without a fight, literally ..

3. France-Italy 2006, World cup Final

Yes, the Zidane headbutt game. Looking back on this match, that is the first thing that comes to mind. This was Zinedine Zidane’s last game before retirement, and the media put a lot of emphasis on the legendary French striker going out in victory. The game started out great for Zidane as he put his team up 1-0 on a penalty kick. Italy would later tie it up on a goal from Marco Matterazzi. Those two men that scored would get into a minor scuffle in the overtime period as Zidane let his emotions get the best of him. After releasing his world famous butthead to the midsection of Matterazzi, Zinedine Zidane would be booted off in the 110th minute.

France could have used Zidane’s services in the penalty shootout as the Italians hit every penalty shot en route to their fourth World Cup title.

2. United States-Japan (Women’s) 2011

Yesterday’s duel between the United States and Japan was an instant classic — depending on who you’re talking to. For the Americans, it was a tale of missed opportunities. For the Japanese, it was a story of determination. Fellow BSO writer, Kamaal DeSouza has the comprehensive summary of the game all covered here. In short, the Americans took the early lead thanks to spectacular work from Alex Morgan just to see Aya Miyama tie it for the Japanese. The United States went up again in overtime on a header from Abby Wambach just to see Homare Sawa tie the game up at 2. Ideally, the game should have been over following Wambach’s goal for the US, but Japan climbed back in to force the penalty shootout. With the United States missing their first three kicks, Saki Kumagai was able to push a shot past US goalkeeper Hope Solo to clinch victory for Japan.

The game drew big ratings as the US Women’s team took center stage for at least one day ..

1. Ghana-Uruguay


I still don’t see how Uruguay won this game. Ghana came into this game as the underdogs and crowd favorites, due to the fact that they were the last African team standing in a World Cup that was being hosted in South Africa. The Ghanaians took the lead when Sulley Muntari, who had been buried on the bench throughout the whole World Cup, stunned everyone in attendance with a deep goal right before halftime to give Ghana a 1-0 advantage.

It was only a matter of time before the Uruguayans would score with the help of their reliable striker Diego Forlan.

The game would stay at a 1-1 deadlock until the final moments of overtime, right before the penalty kick, when Uruguay striker Luis Suarez blocks an apparent Ghana goal with his hands. Essentially, Suarez cheats to keep his team from elimination. But no problem, Ghana would be awarded a penalty kick to win the game.

Should they connect, Ghana would become the first African nation to make it to the semi-finals in a World Cup…

The moment is right, as they are backed by thousands of African supporters in the stands…

Coming up to take the penalty is Asamoah Gyan, the Ghanaian striker that was largely responsible for his team’ success. It was Gyan who helped Ghana clinch their first World Cup berth back in 2006. In the 2010 World Cup, It was Gyan who hit the penalty kick to propel Ghana past the heavily favored Serbians in the group stages. It was Gyan who scored the overtime goal in the Round of 16 to knock the Americans out.

It was only fitting that this guy would be the one to send Ghana to the semi-finals in such dramatic fashion. Right?

Apparently not ..

Gyan missed the kick. You don’t even have to be a Ghana fan to see that how gut-wrenching the missed kick was..

The miss sent the game to penalties where Gyan would hit his shot this time. However, the damage had been done as Gyan’s teammates weren’t able to keep put their shots in giving Uruguay the victory. As the rapper Eminem says:

“One shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime”. 

Ghana missed it..

Uruguay benefited ..