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5 famous World Cup penalty misses

Ben Winfield
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Roberto Baggio

Penalty shootouts are perhaps the most brutal thing in football. For the takers, they have nothing to gain. Score and people will say that is what is expected of you. Miss and you are remembered as the villain.

Supporting England, we have had more than enough agony from penalty shootouts over the years. The Three Lions have reached just two semi-finals since winning their only World Cup in 1966 and lost both of them on penalties.

On both occasions, it was at the hands of Germany: at the World Cup in 1990, and the European Championships held in England in 1996, where current manager Gareth Southgate was the man to miss.

There was finally shootout success for England this year though, beating Colombia 4-3 on spot-kicks to progress to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. That was one of three penalty shootouts in the round of 16, with Russia and Croatia also progressing through penalties, knocking out Spain and Denmark respectively.

This has already been a record-breaking World Cup in terms of penalties. 28 have been awarded in Russia this summer, more than at any other World Cup, and 21 have been scored. Harry Kane has been the most successful from the spot, scoring three penalties so far this tournament.

Many people have put this spike in penalties down to the influence of VAR, which has been responsible for the award of ten up until this point of the tournament.

But it’s not the penalties that have been scored that are remembered, it’s those that are missed. Here are five of the most famous missed penalties in World Cup history.

#1 Roberto Baggio (1994)

Baggio’s is probably the most famous missed penalty. The Italian is seen as one of the greatest players we have seen on the world stage, and rightly so, but many still remember him for this penalty miss. In the USA in 1994, Baggio was one of the stars of the tournament, He had endured a frustrating group stage, but came to the fore in the knockout stages, and took Italy all the way to the final.

He scored twice against Nigeria in the round of 16, and then the winner against Spain in the quarter finals. He also scored both goals in the 2-1 semi-final win over Bulgaria, setting up an encounter with Brazil in the final.


Baggio wasn’t fully fit after picking up a hamstring injury in the semi-final but was still on the pitch after 120 minutes as the game went to penalties. He was the last of Italy’s five takers and needed to score to keep the game alive. He skied it horribly over though, creating one of the World Cup’s most memorable moments, but sadly for the wrong reasons.

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Ben Winfield
19 year old student journalist, support Yeovil Town
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