The five most (in-)famous World Cup penalty shootouts

The knockout round of the 2022 World Cup has arrived.

Which means we’re ready for the joy and excitement of penalties. Football’s penalty shootout, with all its agony and ecstasy, was introduced into the Laws of the Game in 1971.

But it wasn’t until 1982 that it showed in a World Cup when West Germany beat France from the semi-finals in a 5-4 shootout victory.

Of the 30 penalty shootouts in a World Cup, only two times came down to the World Cup final itself (1994 and 2006).

Here are the top five penalty shootouts at the World Cup:

Brazil 3 – 4 France
Mexico 1986

Brazilian Pele, probably the greatest footballer ever, described this match in Mexico 1986 as “the match of the century”.

The scorching heat of the Guadalajara sun did little to detract from the pace of attack and the skill of both teams as they battled through this quarter-final. Always flamboyant Brazil, led by Socrates, took on European champions France, with the “magic quartet” of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez in midfield.

Platini scored France’s goal on his 31st birthday in response to Careca’s finish of a typical free-flowing ‘samba football’ Brazilian team game. After extra time it was tied at 1-1.

Socrates missed Brazil’s first penalty of the shootout. While Platini couldn’t contain his nerve and sent France’s fourth into orbit, Fernandez held it together to shoot France’s fifth into the net.

France’s Michel Platini (right) takes on Brazil’s Julio Cesar during the first half of their World Cup match on June 21, 1986 [Charles Platiu/Reuters]

South Korea 5-3 Spain
South Korea-Japan 2002

South Korea’s 2002 campaign was plagued by controversy. Not really known as a football powerhouse, the joint hosts had raised some eyebrows beating Portugal (Portugal received two red cards) and Italy (a game known for refereeing fouls committed by a man suspended less than a year later by the Ecuadorian Football Federation for match fixing). They then faced Spain in the quarter-final.

Spain had two goals disallowed, the second of which was clearly a mistake. Several tight offside calls went against them. And it was on penalties. Korea scored from their first four goals, as 20-year-old Spanish winger Joaquin stepped forward. South Korean goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae blocked his shot, but had gone far from the goal line long before the ball was in play.

Hon Myung-bo sealed the win with Korea’s fifth penalty goal.

Hong Myung-Bo Scores The Winning Penalty Past Spanish Goalkeeper Iker Casillas
South Korea’s Hong Myung-bo scores the winning penalty past Spain’s Iker Casillas in their World Cup quarter-final penalty shootout in Kwangju, June 22, 2002 [Oleg Popov/AW/JDP/Reuters]

Brazil 3 – 2 Italy
USA 1994

More than 94,000 fans gathered in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl stadium for the final, dispelling any doubt that the American public would not come to football’s biggest tournament. Brazil had beaten Italy in the 1970 final and it looked like the 1994 edition was headed in the same direction, with Brazil taking the lion’s share of chances in the first half.

But they failed to break through and Italy also kept them out in the second half.

It was penalty kicks. The Italian Franco Baresi was the first to send into the air. Marcio Santos left, but got his effort saved. Albertini, Romario, Evani and Branco all scored to make it 2-2. But after AC Milan’s Daniele Massoro, who was part of Italy’s 1982 World Cup winning squad, saved his shot and fired Brazilian captain Dunga into the bottom left corner, all eyes were on Roberto Baggio who carried his team to the final .

Baggio skied on it and Brazil won the Jules Rimet trophy for the fourth time.

Claudio Taffarel Saves On A Shot By Italian Daniele Massaro
Brazilian Claudio Taffarel saves Daniele Massaro’s penalty kick to decide the World Cup final on July 17, 1994 [Oleg Popov/Reuters]

West Germany 4 – 3 England
Italy 1990

Footballing rivals since England beat West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, an event as strong in the shaping of England’s identity as Europe’s geopolitics 25 years earlier, this was a shaky end to England’s pioneering campaign in 1990. The tears of the mercurial Paul Gascoigne as he received a second yellow card of the tournament in this semi-final, meaning he would miss the final, were mirrored across the country as he withdrew from the penalty shootout.

He was replaced in the penalty shootout by Chris Waddle as the match finished 1–1 after full-time.

Goalkeeper Peter Shilton was unlucky not to get a hand on a single penalty from the Germans, delaying each dive until the ball was hit. Stuart Pearce took England’s fourth shot, which bounced off Bodo Illgner’s shin. Waddle had never taken a penalty in a league leading position but stepped forward and struck hard. Illgner couldn’t reach it. It hit the post, England was out and Germany through to the final.

Chris Waddle Misses Penalty Italia 1990
England’s Chris Waddle watches his shot outplay the goalkeeper – only to hit the post [Action Images/Reuters]

Italy 5-3 France
Germany 2006

The 69,000 fans at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, the most recent World Cup final to go to penalties, were treated to a match focused on two giants of the modern game: Zinedine Zidane for France and Marco Materazzi for Italy. Both scored in the first 20 minutes.

But it was a now infamous extra time foul that stole the show, as Zidane headbutted Materazzi in the chest, sending the Italian to the floor, sending the Frenchman – in his last game before a scheduled retirement – into the dressing room.

France went into the penalty shootout without their talisman. The Italians went first, with Andrea Pirlo firing his shot in. France’s Sylvain Wiltord matched that attempt before Materazzi also found the net. David Trezeguet took France’s second and hit the ball against the underside of the crossbar. It was the only penalty shot missed, as Italy fired the remaining three shots into goal to win the World Cup for the fourth time.

Buffon And Zizou
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (left) addresses France’s Zinedine Zidane after his infamous headbutt during the 2006 World Cup final [Charles Platiau/Reuters]

Show More


Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

Related Articles

Back to top button