Brice Samba was the hero of the night on Tuesday as Nottingham Forest booked a place in the Championship play-off final with a dramatic shootout win over Sheffield United. Not only did the Congolese goalkeeper make some key saves in regular play to keep the aggregate score at 3-3, but he then saved three penalties as Forest went through with a 3-2 spot-kick success.
First up he kept out Ollie Norwood’s effort, then produced a frankly ridiculous reaction save to deny Conor Hourihane. And he deservedly had the final say by stopping Morgan Gibbs-White’s effort.
But Samba is far from the first shot-stopper to prove the difference with multiple huge saves in the middle of high-profile drama.
Petr Cech - Champions League final 2012
In what was one of the most memorable Champions League finals, Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich in the German club’s own backyard and Cech played a massive part in the Blues’ win. First up, Cech saved from Arjen Robben in normal time before stopping efforts from Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger late on in the shootout after Chelsea had been staring down the barrel.
Manuel Neuer - Champions League semi-final 2012
The German goalkeeper has been one of the best of this generation, and, like Samba, his early saves in the last-four shootout with Real Madrid to keep out legendary attackers Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka set his team up to advance to the final for their eventual defeat to Chelsea.
Emiliano Martinez - Copa America semi-final 2021
Off the back of an impressive debut campaign with Aston Villa, Martinez became an Argentine hero as his three penalty saves against Colombia set up a final with Brazil. Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona were all denied by the former Arsenal man as the Albiceleste headed for their first tournament win since 1993.
Ricardo - World Cup quarter-final 2006
Look away, England fans. Ricardo was the Portuguese hero who haunted England again following his Euro 2004 heroics as his three penalty saves in the shootout sent the Three Lions crashing out of the tournament in Germany. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher all saw their efforts blocked as Portugal won 3-1 from the spot.
Tim Krul - World Cup quarter-final 2014
Everyone remembers when Louis van Gaal brought off Jasper Cillessen for Krul ahead of a crunch penalty shootout against Costa Rica in Salvador. It seemed an extremely risky decision at the time but was made to look pure genius by the end as Krul made stops from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to help his team progress to the semi-finals.
Jerzy Dudek - Champions League final 2005
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. After Liverpool’s collective heroics to rescue a 3-0 deficit to AC Milan to force extra-time then penalties, it was Dudek who made himself the hero of the night. He saved spot-kicks from Serginho, Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko to send Merseyside into raptures.
Ciaran Kelly - FAI Cup final 2010
The Sligo Rovers shot-stopper saved all four of the penalties he faced against Shamrock Rovers to win his side the trophy in 2010. Incredibly, he was the hero again 12 months later, coming off the bench to save two spot-kicks as Sligo retained the trophy.
Jason Steele - FA Cup third round 2021
He may not have been Brighton & Hove Albion’s first-choice goalkeeper but Steele lived up to his name in the Seagulls’ shootout against Newport County. Having made an error to allow the home side to equalise deep into stoppage time, Steele made up for his gaffe with stops from Josh Sheehan, Mickey Demetriou, Liam Shephard and Scot Bennett as Brighton triumphed 4-3.
Willy Caballero - Carabao Cup final 2016
The Argentine was Manchester City’s man of the hour against Liverpool following a 1-1 draw in the 2016 League Cup showpiece. He was renowned for being an excellent cup goalkeeper and this game was proof of that as three consecutive saves to deny Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana ensured City won the day.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change