A brief history of football’s most eye-opening penalty shootout comebacks | Soccer

“Last week, in their Ligue 1 relegation/promotion playoff quarter-final, Rodez beat Paris FC in a penalty shootout despite missing their first three kicks,” notes Neal Parsons. “Has this happened before?”

Before we answer the question, a moment please to reflect on the kind of match that only playoffs can produce. Paris FC, who were a man and a goal down from the 48th minute against Rodez, scored a 96th-minute equaliser to take the tie to penalties. When they were 2-0 up after three penalties apiece, they had nine toes in the playoff semis. And then it all went wrong, big time: unbelievably, Rodez scored their next three and Paris FC failed to score theirs.

A victory Rodez would remember forever – or at least for three days, before they lost the semi-final 2-0 to Saint-Etienne.

The first game that came to mind, for us and a few of you, was Wolves v Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup in 1994-95. That penalty competition is memorable for three reasons: Wednesday keeper Kevin Pressman showing how to take the perfect penalty, Wolves recovering spectacularly from that moment onwards, and poor Chris Waddle missing decisively in sudden death. We thought Wolves had missed their first three penalties but it turns out they only missed the first two. Pressman’s penalty put Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 up, which put them at match point halfway through the shootout.

And then it all unravelled thus:

  • Gordon Cowans scores Wolves 1-3 Sheff Wed

  • Andy Pearce misses Wolves 1-3 Sheff Wed

  • David Kelly scores Wolves 2-3 Sheff Wed

  • Chris Bart-Williams misses Wolves 2-3 Sheff Wed

  • John de Wolf scores Wolves 3-3 Sheff Wed

  • Chris Waddle misses Wolves 3-3 Sheff Wed

  • Don Goodman scores Wolves 4-3 Sheff Wed

Although Wolves weren’t 3-0 down, their comeback was even more dramatic: seven consecutive penalties went their way – the greatest possible swing in a shootout – as compared to six for Rodez.

Richard Askham points out that Huddersfield Town beat Sheffield United in the 2011-12 League One playoff final despite missing their first three penalties. It was a unique penalty shootout: six of the first eight were missed, then 13 in a row were scored before the Sheffield United goalkeeper Steve Simonsen hit his penalty over the bar.

Huddersfield celebrate promotion to the Championship. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

“Other teams may have won having missed their first three,” writes Richard, “but not many will have had to score the next eight in order to prevail. Incidentally, only three playoff finals in English football history have finished goalless after extra time, and Town won all three on penalties. And for my first 30 years, I used to think of Town as being unlucky.”

There wasn’t a seven-penalty swing during the 1985 Finnish Cup final, but there were seven missed penalties in a row. And that was from the off. As Ricardo Bortolon points out, Haka missed their first four penalties and still beat HJK Helsinki. That’s because Helsinki missed their first three, and their fifth (to win it) and then the sixth as well. Haka won 2-1.

“Honourable mention to Kaizer Chiefs beating Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 in the 1998 final of the then Rothmans Cup (roughly equivalent to the English League Cup) after missing their first three kicks (Mamelodi missed their first two) and six kicks apiece,” adds Ricardo. “The whole shootout is on YouTube!”

And as a footnote, Peñarol won the Uruguayan Cup in 1996 despite missing their last three penalties. That’s because Nacional missed all five of theirs, so Penarol won 1-0 after nine kicks.

Boyz II Men

“What’s the quickest time two FA Youth Cup winners have taken to win the FA Cup together?” tweets Scotty Walden.

Scotty’s pithy question referred to Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, the scorers in Manchester United’s famous FA Cup final win over Manchester City. Two years earlier they were in the team that beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 in the FA Youth Cup final, with Garnacho scoring twice. The short answer is that we think it is a record for two players in the same team to jump from FA Youth Cup winner to fully fledged FA Cup winner. The long answer comes from Jack Hayward.

Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho celebrate together after winning the FA Cup. Photograph: Robin Jones/Getty Images

“The last player before Mainoo and Garnacho to play in and win both finals in such a short space of time – shorter, in fact – was a man who very nearly managed Lionel Messi: Phil Neville,” writes Jack. “He captained Manchester United to the 1994-95 Youth Cup, and played all 90 minutes of the 1996 FA Cup final win over Liverpool, when he was selected ahead of his brother. Neville shares the distinction with John Sissons – winner of the 1962-63 Youth Cup and 1963-64 FA Cup with West Ham – of being one of only two players to make this double in consecutive seasons while playing in both finals.

“Mainoo and Garnacho achieving it two seasons apart mirrors a different United player. Ryan Giggs, captain of a team studded with future stars who won the 1991-92 Youth Cup, was its only member to play in the 1994 FA Cup final. Des Horne, who won the 1957-58 FA Youth Cup and 1959-60 FA Cup with Wolves, rounds out the list of people who have achieved or bettered what Mainoo and Garnacho accomplished.

“An honourable mention must be given to Trevoh Chalobah. He was an unused substitute for victorious Chelsea in the 2018 FA Cup final a year after winning the Youth Cup with the Blues, so would have repeated Sissons’s and Neville’s feat had Antonio Conte brought him on. Before this year, the shortest time it took for more than one player to win both competitions together before 2024 was four years: various members of the Class of 92 played in the 1996 FA Cup final win over Liverpool. Here is a list of, as far as I could find, every player who played for the winning team in an FA Cup final within four years after winning the FA Youth Cup:

One year John Sissons (West Ham United, 1963 and 1964), Phil Neville (Manchester United, 1995 and 1996)
Two years Des Horne (Wolverhampton Wanderers, 1958 and 1960), Ryan Giggs (Manchester United, 1992 and 1994), Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United, 2022 and 2024)
Three years John Wark (Ipswich Town, 1975 and 1978)
Four years Richie Pitt (Sunderland, 1969 and 1973), David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Gary Neville (Manchester United, 1992 and 1996)

Back-to-back awards in two leagues

“Jude Bellingham has just been named La Liga player of the season. Given he also won Bundesliga player of the season last year, it means he’s done it twice in a row in two different leagues. Has anyone else won it in multiple leagues in consecutive seasons?” asks Brad Peterson.

Erling Haaland did it in consecutive seasons: 2019-20 in Austria and 2020-21 in Germany. And although the Brazilian Ronaldo didn’t manage it, he surely would have done had there been an official La Liga player of the season award in 1996-97. Ronaldo scored 34 league goals in only one season at Barcelona and made hundreds of thousands of jaws drop. The following year he won the award in Italy with Inter. La Liga’s official player of the season award began in 2008-09.

Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring for RB Salzburg in the 2019-20 season. Photograph: Kerstin Joensson/AP

Knowledge archive

“Why is a section of Upton Park called the Chicken Run?” wondered Andrew Snoad back in 2006.

“The term referred exclusively to the lower East Stand at the Boleyn Ground, although it was just an affectionate nickname,” explained ever-so-helpful Hammers fan Keir. “The later stand replaced the old Chicken Run in 1969. It was built of wood and surrounded by a wire mesh and, as such, acquired its nickname from the fans of the day.

“In the days of terracing, that part of the ground had a fearsome reputation, with the pitch being extremely close to the stand. As some opposition players from the era will attest, it was literally within spitting distance of the playing surface. Running the gauntlet of the Chicken Run for opposition players led in no small part to the reputation of the Boleyn as being a difficult place to come and play. Sadly, after the new West Stand was built, the pitch was moved away from the ‘Run’, with a sizeable gap between stand and pitch.”

Knowledge archive

Can you help?

“Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal for Portugal on 12 June 2004, which means that if he scores a goal at Euro 2024 (or later) his scoring career for the national team will be over 20 years long. Has any player ever achieved this?” asks Rui Pereira.

“In the Bosnia squad to play England there was a 99-point gap between the most experienced player in the squad (Edin Dzeko) and the second most experienced (Ermin Bicakcic),” notes Richard Wilson. “Is this a record?”

England played at St James’ Park last night, robbing Bosnia and Herzegovina of a chance to play at Wembley.

It made me wonder if there are any other countries or teams that have missed out on playing at Wembley when they usually should have?

— Šįmøñ (@Yabba1989) June 4, 2024

“The winning managers in all three European club competitions this season are in their sixties, with a combined age of 193,” writes our own Will Unwin. “Has this happened before?”

“Vincent Kompany is the new Bayern Munich manager, following his relegation at Burnley,” notes Jack Hayward. “Discounting promotion bouncebacks with the same club, what is the greatest season a manager has had the year after they were relegated?”

Vincent Kompany is given a digital welcome by Bayern Munich. Photograph: S Mellar/FC Bayern/Getty Images

“Plymouth Argyle have twice reached 100 points in a season, in 2001-02 and 2022-23. Has any other English team done this?” asks Rich.

“What’s the highest combined xG in a 0-0 draw?” asks Jack Crosby.

Galatasaray celebrate after winning the league. Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images

“Tanguay Ndombele has just won back-to-back league titles in Italy (Napoli) and Turkey (Galatasaray) whilst on loan from Spurs,” says David Rafferty. “Anyone ever won three or more different league titles consecutively whilst on loan?”

@TheKnowledge_GU 12 of the 16 clubs in the Belgian Pro League ended the season with different managers to those who ended last season (75%). This matches the Championship in 22/23. Is this the highest percentage or has a league ever seen even more?

— Brad Peterson (@BradPeterson22) June 3, 2024

Thanks to all of you for your help throughout the 2023-24 season, particularly the regulars: Chai from Atalanta, Jack Hayward, Dirk Maas, Chris Roe, Mike Slattery, Pete Tomlin. Apologies to the people we’ve inevitably forgotten.



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