A brief history of football’s most spectacular penalty kick comebacks

<span>Kevin Pressman and Paul Jones shake hands after the shootout in the FA Cup replay between <a class=Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday in 1995.Photo: Dave Bagnall Archive/Alamy” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/MsCyHTZRDmu07mxJFFhovA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/37420526116c3fa73224 4c1744770ba4″ data-src= “https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/MsCyHTZRDmu07mxJFFhovA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/37420526116c3fa732244c17 44770ba4″/>

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

Before we answer the question, let’s take a moment to think about the kind of competition that only playoffs can produce. Paris FC, who were a man and a goal down from the 48th minute against Rodez, scored an equalizer in the 96th minute to take the tie to penalties. When they led 2-0 after three penalties each, they had nine toes in the play-off semi-final. And then it all went wrong: incredibly, Rodez scored the next three and Paris FC failed to score theirs.

A victory that 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 vs Sheffield Wednesday in the 1994-95 FA Cup. That penalty shootout is memorable for three reasons: Wednesday goalkeeper Kevin Pressman showing how to take the perfect penalty, Wolves recovering spectacularly from there and poor Chris Waddle losing decisively in sudden death. We thought Wolves had missed their first three penalties, but it turned out they had only missed the first two. Pressman’s penalty put Sheffield Wednesday 3–0 ahead, putting them on match point halfway through the shootout.

And then it all unfolded like this:

  • Gordon Cowans scores Wolves 1-3 Sheff Bet

  • Andy Pearce misses Wolves 1-3 Sheff Bet

  • David Kelly scores Wolves 2-3 Sheff Bet

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

  • Jan de Wolf scores Wolves 3-3 Sheff Bet

  • Chris Waddle misses Wolves 3-3 Sheff Bet

  • Don Goodman scores Wolves 4-3 Sheff Bet

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

Richard Askham points this out Huddersfield town defeated Sheffield United in the 2011/12 League One play-off final, despite missing their first three penalties. It was a unique penalty shootout: six of the first eight were missed, then thirteen were scored in a row before Sheffield United goalkeeper Steve Simonsen hit his penalty over the crossbar.

“Other teams may have won after missing their first three,” Richard writes, “but not many teams will have had to score the next eight to triumph. Incidentally, only three play-off finals in English football history have ended goalless after extra time, with Town winning all three on penalties. And for the first thirty years I always thought Town was unlucky.”

During the 1985 Finnish Cup final there was no swing of seven penalties, but there were seven missed consecutive penalties. And that was from the beginning. As Ricardo Bortolon notes: Haka missed their first four penalties and still defeated HJK Helsinki. That’s because Helsinki missed their first three, and their fifth (to win this one) and then the sixth too. Haka won 2-1.

“Honorable mention for that Kaizer Chiefs beat 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,” Ricardo added. “The entire shootout is on YouTube!”

And as a footnote: Peñarol won the Uruguayan Cup in 1996 despite missing their last three fines. That was because Nacional missed all five, meaning Penarol won 1-0 after nine kicks.

Boyz II Men

“What is the fastest time for two FA Youth Cup winners to win the FA Cup together?” Scotty Walden tweets.

Scotty’s pithy question referred to Alejandro Garnacho And Kobbie Mainoo, the goalscorers in Manchester United’s famous FA Cup final victory over Manchester City. Two years earlier they were part of the team that defeated Nottingham Forest 3–1 in the FA Youth Cup final, with Garnacho scoring twice. The short answer is that we think it’s a record for two players in the same team to jump from FA Youth Cup winners to full-fledged FA Cup winners. The long answer comes from Jack Hayward.

“The last player before Mainoo and Garnacho to play and win both finals in such a short time – shorter even – was a man who almost managed to beat Lionel Messi: Phil Neville”, writes Jac. “He captained Manchester United in the 1994/95 Youth Cup and played all 90 minutes of the 1996 FA Cup final against 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 – being one of only two players to achieve the double in consecutive seasons while playing in both finals.

“For Mainoo and Garnacho to achieve this two seasons in a row is a reflection of another United player. Ryan Giggscaptaining a team full of future stars that won the 1991-92 Youth Cup, he was the only member to play in the 1994 FA Cup final. Des Hoornwho won the 1957-58 FA Youth Cup and the 1959-60 FA Cup with Wolves completes the list of people who have achieved or improved on what Mainoo and Garnacho achieved.

“An honorable mention must be given Trevoh Chaloba. He was an unused substitute for victorious Chelsea in the 2018 FA Cup final, a year after winning the Youth Cup with the Blues, and would have repeated Sissons 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: several members of the Class of 92 played in the 1996 FA Cup final against Liverpool. Here is a list of, as far as I could find, all the players who played for the winning team in an FA Cup final within four years of winning the FA Youth Cup:

A 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 prizes in two competitions

“Jude Bellingham has just been named La Liga player of the season. Since he also won Bundesliga player of the season last year, this means he has done this twice in a row in two different competitions. Has anyone else won the award in multiple competitions in consecutive seasons? asks Brad Peterson.

Erling Haaland did it in consecutive seasons: 2019-20 in Austria and 2020-21 in Germany. And even if Brazilian Ronaldo didn’t succeed, he certainly would have if there had been an official La Liga Player of the Season award in 1996-97. Ronaldo scored 34 league goals in just one season at Barcelona and left hundreds of thousands of jaws dropping. The following year he won the prize in Italy with Inter. The La Liga Official Player of the Season award started in 2008–09.

Knowledge archive

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

“The term referred solely to the lower East Stand at the Boleyn Ground, although it was merely an affectionate nickname,” explained the ever-so-helpful Hammers fan Keir. “The later stand replaced the old Chicken Run in 1969. Built of wood and surrounded by mesh, it earned its nickname from the fans of the time.

“In the days of the terraces, that part of the ground had a fearsome reputation because the field was extremely close to the stands. As some opponents of the era will attest, it was literally within striking distance of the playing surface. Running the gauntlet of the Chicken Run for opponents led in no small part to the Boleyn’s reputation as a tough place to come and play. Unfortunately, following the construction of the new West Stand, the pitch was moved from the ‘Run’, leaving a significant gap between the stand and the pitch.”


Can you help?

“Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal for Portugal on June 12, 2004, meaning that if he scores a goal at Euro 2024 (or later), his career as a goalscorer for the national team will last more than twenty years. Has any player ever achieved this?” asks Rui Pereira.

“In the Bosnian team that played against England, there was a 99-point gap between the most experienced player in the team (Edin Dzeko) and the second most experienced player (Ermin Bicakcic),” notes Richard Wilson. “Is this a record?”

“The winning managers in all three European club competitions this season are in their 60s, with a combined age of 193,” writes our own Will Unwin. “Has this happened before?”

“Vincent Kompany is the new manager of Bayern Munich after his relegation at Burnley,” notes Jack Hayward. “If we exclude promotion bouncebacks at the same club, what is the best season a manager has had in the year after being relegated?”

“Plymouth Argyle has achieved 100 points in a season twice, in 2001-2002 and 2022-2023. Has any other English team done this?” asks Rich.

“What is the highest combined xG for a 0-0 draw?” asks Jack Crosby.

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

I would like to thank you all for your help during the 2023-2024 season, especially the regulars: Chai from Atalanta, Jack Hayward, Dirk Maas, Chris Roe, Mike Slattery, Pete Tomlin. Apologies to the people we have inevitably forgotten.

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