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Ranking the 5 worst penalty misses in World Cup history

Roberto Baggio in the 1994 World Cup final
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The brutal mental pressure of taking a penalty reaches its absolute peak during the World Cup.

Penalties are responsible for some of the most nerve-wracking moments in football. With World Cup magnifying even the smallest mistakes, penalties become even more stressful during the tournament.

Some of the biggest names in football history have suffered unforgettable penalty misses, which have determined the outcome of crucial games.

Let’s review some of the most infamous spot-kick misses in the World Cup.

5- Harry Kane: France 2-1 England (2022)

England came into the Qatar World Cup on the back of a penalty defeat against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

Boasting one of the strongest squads of the tournament, England faced France in the quarter-finals. The Blues went ahead 2-1 but gave out a golden opportunity to the Three Lions to come back into the game.

Harry Kane, who had scored England’s first goal with a precise penalty, stood behind the ball. But this time, his shot was well off the target, ending England’s dream of turning the game around.

4- Asamoah Gyan: Uruguay 1-1 (4-2 pens) Ghana (2010)

Ghana were hoping to become the first African nation to ever reach the World Cup semi-finals when they locked horns with Uruguay in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup.

The game was tied at 1-1 when Luis Suarez prevented a last-minute goal from Ghana with an outrageous handball. The referee sent Suarez out with a direct red card as he awarded Ghana a golden chance to clinch the match-winner.

But sadly for Ghana, Gyan missed his shot as he hit the crossbar. Uruguay then went on to eliminate the Black Stars in the penalties.

3- Chris Waddle: West Germany 1-1 (4-3 pens) England (1990)

England faced their arch-rivals Germany in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup.

Having eliminated Cameroon with a narrow win in the quarter-finals, the Three Lions had reached the semis for the first time since 1966.

Similar to the Cameroon match, Gary Lineker scored a late equalizer to keep England in the game. But Germany’s perfect display in the penalties ended the Three Lions’ World Cup dream.

Germany converted their starting four penalties while Stuart Pearce missed England’s fourth shot. Chris Waddle then aimed for the upper-left corner of the net. But his shot went off target to send West Germany to the Rome final.

2- David Trezeguet: Italy 1-1 (5-3 pens) France (2006)

France took the lead against Italy in the 2006 final through a masterful penalty from Zinedine Zidane.

Italy came back into the game almost immediately, with Zidane later being dismissed for an infamous head-butt in the extra time.

The title was, nevertheless, destined to be decided by the penalties.

Andrea Pirlo and Sylvian Wiltord scored both sides’ first penalties. But then Trezeguet missed France’s second shot as he hit the crossbar with a powerful shot. 

Italy went on to win the title by converting all of their remaining four penalties. 

1- Roberto Baggio: Brazil 0-0 (3-2 pens) Italy (1994)

One of the most famous photos in World Cup history depicts Roberto Baggio after missing his penalty against Brazil in the 1994 World Cup final.

The Azzurri were hoping to avenge their 1970 final defeat against Brazil when they locked horns with their South American rivals.

Following a goalless draw, it all came down to penalties at the Rose Bowl Stadium.

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Franco Baresi and Marcio Santos missed the two sides’ first penalties. Brazil converted their next three spot-kicks, but Daniele Massaro missed Italy’s fourth shot.

Baggio could have kept Italy in the game if he had scored his penalty. But his wide shot never saw the back of the net as Brazil celebrated their fourth World Cup trophy.