The six worst penalty misses in World Cup history

90 years and 21 FIFA World Cup tournaments have given some unforgettable moments. Here are some heartbreaking penalty kick disasters!

France - Brazil 1986

The 1986 World Cup was played in Mexico and won by Argentina, led by Diego Maradona. It was a fantastic tournament with plenty of drama, and luckily for French footballer legend (and later UEFA president) Michel Platini his penalty miss made no difference and thereby easier forgotten.

The quarterfinal between Brazil and France was tied 1-1 after both 90 and 120 minutes, with goals from Careca and the above mentioned Platini. Socrates missed the first penalty kick for Brazil, easing the pressure on the French. Everyone scored until France’s fourth penalty from Michel Platini, whose lame effort gave Brazil a chance back in.

However, Brazil defender Julio Cesar (not the Roman emperor) couldn’t handle the pressure after spending many nervous seconds placing the ball and being corrected by the referee. He thundered the ball in the post and France scored their final penalty and won the game.

Here’s Platini:

and here’s Julio Cesar (actually the whole shootout - Cesar is at about 6:45)

England - Germany 1990

This is perhaps one of the hardest moments in history for England fans, as England had a great chance of reaching the final in Italy ‘90. The tournament is famous for its lack of goals with the lowest average ever, 2.2 per game.

England and Germany have a fierce rivalry in sports and victory in their semifinal meant to so much for both teams. With the score 1-1 after ordinary and extra time, it was time for a penalty shootout.

Germany hit all their penalties, while Stuart Pearce’s penalty (England’s fourth) was saved. This meant that Chris Waddle, an attacking midfielder of great talent, had to score to keep the England dream alive.
He didn’t, delivering a very powerful but equally as terrible kick still flying into the universe today. To be fair, England would probably have lost anyway due to Pearce’s lame effort, also choosing force over precision.

You can see the entire shootout below, Chris Waddle shoots at about 5:10.

Brazil - Italy 1994

Missing a penalty in the World Cup Final sounds like a nightmare, and it was for Italian striker Roberto Baggio who had enjoyed a great tournament in the United States until his (and the World Cup’s) last kick in the competition. 120 goalless minutes (the only goalless World Cup Final so far) meant a penalty kick shootout.

Baggio, wearing one of the worst haircuts of all time, has perhaps been punished too hard for his penalty miss, as two Italians (Baresi and Massaro) had already missed their kicks and Brazil were only a goal away from winning the final even if Baggio had scored.

However, imagine delivering this penalty kick in a World Cup Final:

Argentina - England 1998

This match is remembered for the stellar performance from a 18 year old Michael Owen and the sending off of David Beckham, but again the English were eliminated in a penalty shootout after playing a good match but being unable to win.

David Batty stepped up to take England’s fifth penalty, needing a goal. He was never a goal-scoring football player, famous for his lack of goals. Even so he was given the important fifth penalty, seemingly closed his eyes and hit the ball as hard as he could - straight onto the goalkeeper.

You can see highlights from the game below. Batty’s penalty kick starts at about 2:45.

Uruguay - Ghana 2010

Played in South Africa, the 2010 was a memorable World Cup with Spain the winners. One of the most remembered matches is the quarter final between Uruguay and Ghana. Both teams had exceeded expectations by making it so far, and it was also the first time they met.

The score was 1-1 after 90 minutes and that meant extra time. Just seconds away from the end of extra time and the start of a penalty shootout, Ghana got a huge chance to score when Uruguay striker Luis Suarez twice blocked shots on the goal line - the second time with his hands. Suarez was sent off and Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan stepped up to take the last-second penalty to win the game and a place in the semifinals.

Gyan missed his penalty kick, hitting only the crossbar. Uruguay won the following penalty shootout competition after the long-haired striker Sebastian Abreu cheekily chipped the goalkeeper Panenka-style, displaying nerves of steel.

You can see the deciding handball and Gyan’s penalty kick below:

1994 World Cup opening ceremony

Finally, a bonus penalty.

In 1994, the famous singer Diana Ross performed at the opening ceremony in Chicago. As part of her show, she ran singing to the penalty spot and was required to kick the ball into the goal, “destroying” it.

Needless to say, she missed. The goal still collapsed, Ross hesitated, the audience reacted with disappointment… but the show had to go on.