Penalties give you a 50% chance of scoring, and 50% chance of missing it. Sometimes, being an expert in taking penalties doesn’t pay off. When you face a goalkeeper who is an expert in saving penalties, scoring becomes difficult. In this article, we explore the greatest penalty saves of all time.
It’s a tough life being a goalkeeper: you spend most of the game trying to keep warm and all that anyone ever notices is your mistakes. The only time you can become a hero is during a penalty shoot-out and even then, if you’re English, it’s going to be the same result. However, every so often, you get the chance to make a save so incredible, so intrepid, that the whole stadium gasp for air. Now, without further ado, let’s go through best penalty saves ever.
In this article, we will look into amazing penalty saves in soccer history.
The first heroic save on the list of best penalty saves in football history is a spectacular save from Petr Cech. Andre Villas-Boas had selected Ross Turnball as the goalkeeperfor the match against Everton in Carling Cup. Turnball committed a foul against Everton’s Louis Saha and the referee pointed to the spot without any hesitation. Turnball saw the red card coming out of the referee’s back pocket, and Andre Villas-Boas made a substitution.
Petr Cech came on for Romelu Lukaku. Against Cech was the famous Leighton Baines, who specialized in taking direct free kicks and penalties. Baines fired away, but Cech made the save. The ball fell in front of Baines again, and that is when Petr Cech made his heroic double save. Chelsea won the match, and there is zero doubt, that this heroic double save performed a great role in Chelsea's win against Everton. This penalty save is important because Cech made a phenomenal double save.
The second save from the list of best penalty saves in football history is from Jerzy Dudek had conceded three goals in the first half. Liverpool fans were whispering about him, asking him to level up his game. And he did. He made some exceptional saves in the second half, and especially in extra time. Then came penalty shoot-outs to determine the UEFA Champions League winner.
Against Dudek stood the magnificent Andrea Pirlo. Few people believed Dudek could save Pirlo’s penalty, but he delivered. He saved the most important penalty kick in his career. Dudek saving Pirlo’s penalty had a huge impact on Liverpool players’ morale as they said so in several post-game interviews.. They later converted most of their penalties into goals. Not to forget that Dudek saved Shevchenko’s penalty as well. It was the final kick of the game, which sent Liverpool fans into rapture.
The third save on the list of best penalty saves in football history belongs to Netherlands’ Tim Krul. Netherlands were playing against Costa Rica in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup. 120 minutes went by and the scoreline was still 0-0. then Louis van Gaal had an epiphany. Jasper Cillessen was playing as Netherlands’ first choice goalkeeper, and van Gaal made a last-minute substitution.
Tim Krul came on as a substitute in the final minute of extra time and then saved two penalties in a 4-3 shootout victory over Costa Rica on Saturday, giving the Netherlands a place in the World Cup semi-finals.
The Newcastle goalkeeper saved penalties from Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana after the match had finished 0-0.
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The fourth heroic double save,from the list of best penalty saves in football history is from Manuel Almunia. When Leicester won a penalty into extra time it seemed the Hornets were departing the 2013 Championship play-offs in the semi-finals. Then came a strange climax. Manuel Almunia keeping out Anthony Knockaert’s penalty with his feet, then parrying the rebound away with his chest before Troy Deeney rifled the ball home at the other end to send the club into the Championship play-off final at Leicester’s expense. That super-strange finale is the craziest moment Vicarage Road has witnessed. Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia made an untidy kick save on Anthony Knockaert's penalty, then followed it up with another save on the rebound.
The ball was cleared out toward midfield, but Watford still needed a goal. A fast run up the right flank got the ball to Fernando Forestieri in the right corner. Forestieri placed a perfect in-swinging cross into the goal mouth that found the head of Jonathan Hogg. Facing solid pressure, Hogg's header popped back into the middle and directly into the path of an oncoming Troy Deeney. Deeney blasted past Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, and the Watford fans went absolutely insane. There is so much to talk about when it comes to that double save from Almunia. We tried to cover it as much as possible.
The fifth save on the list of best penalty saves in football history was from Daniel Subasic. 2018 World Cup was an extraordinary one. Croatia played phenomenally and they deservedly reached the final. But, we shouldn’t forget the tough game against Denmark they had. It went straight into penalty shoot-outs. Daniel Subasic and Kasper Schmeichel would decide the fate of their national teams. Kasper Schmeichel had already saved a penalty by Modric in the 115th minute of extra time, but, could he deliver again? Daniel Subasic saved 3 penalties and he proved himself, thus making himself a national hero for the Croatia. These saves should definitely be on the list of most important penalty saves ever.
The sixth save from the list of best penalty saves in football history belongs to Edwin van der Sar. The year was 2007. Manchester United and Chelsea had equalized 1-1 in 90 minutes. According to Community Shields rules, if the match gets to a draw in 90 minutes, it’ll directly go to penalty shoot-outs. That’s when van der Sar proved that he is worth every penny paid for him. He denied three penalties, taken by Claudio Pizzaro, Frank Lampard and Shaun Wright-Phillips. On the other hand, Manchester United converted all 3 penalties into goals, as Cech failed to make any saves. Van der Sar became Manchester United’s hero, awarding them FA Community Shields trophy. Van der Sar’s save should definitely be on the list of greatest penalty saves of all time.
The seventh save on the list of best penalty saves in football history belongs to Igor Akinfeev of Russia. Spain had suffered from internal issues and troubles right before the start of the World Cup, as Julen Lupetegui was appointed as Real Madrid’s coach, and this angered Spanish Football Federation, and they appointed Fernando Hierro as their coach. Spain went into the round of 16, with the narrowest margin possible. They were drawn against Russia.
The match ended with a 1-1 draw, after 120 minutes of battling, both teams went into penalty shoot-outs. Spain and Russia were tied 3-3 into the shoot-outs. Iago Aspas, against Igor Akinfeev. Aspas hit the ball, and Akinfeev made a spectacular save with his left foot, sending Russia to World Cup quarter finals.
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The 8th save on the list of best penalty saves in football history belongs to Claudio Bravo. It was 2017 Confederations Cup semi-finals. Portugal against Chile. The match wasn’t that exciting itself, and ended in a 0-0 draw. Yet, the penalty shoot-outs were nerve-wrecking. Claudio Bravo made 3 heroic saves against Quaresma, Moutinho and Nani, sending Chile fans into rapture, and sending Chile to the finals. They eventually lost 1-0 to Germany.
The 9th save on the list of best penalty saves in football history belongs to the magnificent Dida. A thrilling final that ended in a 0-0 draw. It was the competition of the goalkeepers. Gianluigi Buffon, against Dida. Both legendary goalkeepers saved numerous penalties, Dida saving three, and Buffon saving two.
Dida denied penalties from Trezeguet, Zalayeta, and Montero, while Buffon denied penalties from Seedorf and Kaladze. The penalty shoot-out has caused controversy among some fans as replays showed that Dida was in front of the goal line when saving penalties. Dida helped Milan reach the UEFA Champions League for the 6th time.
The 10th save on the list of best penalty saves in football history, again, belongs to Petr Cech. Chelsea had a strange season in 2011-2012. they started with Andre Villas-Boas, and continued with Chelsea legend, Roberto Di Matteo. Di Matteo pulled a rabbit out of his hat by beating Barcelona in the semi-final. They faced Bayern Munich. With Drogba’s 88th minute goal, the match went to extra time. Bayern Munich got a penalty in the extra time. Arjen Robben was denied by Petr Cech. This spectacular save, boosted Chelsea players’ morale, and gave them enough confidence to win the UEFA Champions League.
The 11th save on the list of best penalty saves in football history belongs to another Brazilian goalkeeper, Claudio Taffarel. Netherlands and Brazil were facing each other in the semi final of 1998 FIFA World Cup. Brazil were 1-0 ahead, as Ronaldo put them in front. Netherlands equalized with a late goal by the young and then-aspiring Patrick Kluivert in the 87th minute. The match went into a nerve-wrecking round of penalties. Claudio Taffarel, against Edwin van der Sar. Taffarel saved penalties from Philip Cocu, and Frank de Boer’s twin, Ronald de Boer, taking Brazil into the final. Taffarel played an important role in Brazil winning the World Cup in 1998.
The 12th save on the list of best penalty saves in football history belongs to Argentine’s Sergio Romero. Argentina faced Netherlands in the semi-final. While the match ended in a goalless draw and went to the penalties. Netherlands had already reached the quarter-finals with two crucial saves by Tim Krul, had high hopes of reiterating the same process, but Romero, the underdog, came to Argentina’s rescue. He saved two penalties from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. He denied Sneijder’s penalty in the most phenomenal way possible. These saves deserve to be on the list of best penalty saves ever.
The 13th save on the list of greatest penalty saves of all time, again, belongs to Netherlands’ Edwin van der Sar. 2008 was a fantastic year for Avram Grant and his Chelsea side. They reached UEFA Champions League final and had to face Manchester United.
The match ended with a 1-1 draw, with Ronaldo scoring a goal in 26th minute and Lampard scored in the 45th minute. The match went to the penalty shoot-outs. Petr Cech saved Ronaldo’s penalty. Chelsea was ahead and hopeful to win the title, but John Terry missed the 5th penalty, when he lost his footing and sent the ball the wrong way. There was a glamour of hope in the eyes of Manchester United players. It got even more interesting, when Van der Sar saved Anelka’s penalty, which was the last kick of the game.
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The 14th save on the list of most important penalty saves ever belongs to Joe Hart. He is one of the most underrated goalkeepers of all time. He used to make some spectacular saves. Yet, City pundits used to criticize him all the time. He was known for his great composure in front of the goal. When he usually made some heroic saves, he wouldn’t scream or shout like some goalkeepers. He would get his defense back in order. In 2014-2015 UEFA Champions League round of 16, Manchester City was 2-1 behind from Barcelona, and there was a penalty given for Barcelona. Hart made a save and Messi missed the rebound as well. This save definietly deserves to be on the list of best penalty saves ever.
The 15th save on the list of amazing penalty saves in soccer history belongs to Jens Lehmann. Germany and Argentina played a thrilling game. Both Klinsmann and Pekerman benefited from an attacking style mindset, thus leading their teams to a very entertaing football match. It ended with a 1-1 draw. The thrilling extra time, although it was goalless, was a joy to watch. Roberto Abbondanzieri, the first choice Argentine goalkeeper was injured in the 71st minute of the game, and Leo Franco substituted him. However, Jens Lehmann proved that he was still, one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He saved Roberto Ayala and Esteban Cambiasso’s penalties. Both of these saves deserve to be on the list of most important penalty saves ever.
What other saves can you add to the list of best penalty saves in football history? Comment down below.