It is almost 17 years since Liverpool’s memorable Champions League final comeback and eventual triumph over AC Milan in Istanbul. Who could forget the heroics of goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek that helped Rafael Benitez’s side establish themselves as the best team in Europe? Today, the former Poland international turns 49. The Sportsman have decided to commemorate his birthday by taking a look at some of the greatest penalty shoot-outs ever witnessed in the beautiful game. There are some classics in here that will take you down memory lane.
AC Milan vs Liverpool - Champions League final 2005, 3-3 (2-3)
We have to start off with this iconic match in which Dudek made himself the hero of Istanbul. While his outfield players made the most historic comeback from 3-0 down to 3-3, he made sure that their gargantuan efforts had not gone to waste. The shot-stopper rescued his side in the 117th minute deep in extra-time, pulling off an incredible double save to deny Andriy Shevchenko, who could only put his hands on his head and wonder how he failed to score. Dudek’s brilliant reactions were enough to see the game through to one of the most nerve-wrecking penalty shoot-outs in history.
Dudek was brimming with confidence when the shoot-out came around and he made himself the hero as he saved two penalties, first from Andrea Pirlo and then from Shevchenko in the last kick of this legendary final.
Colombia vs England - World Cup round of 16, 2018, 1-1 (3-4)
Who could forget this memorable moment, if you are an England fan, as Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions ended their penalty shoot-out hoodoo against Colombia to keep their memorable 2018 World Cup campaign alive. When Yerry Mina’s stoppage time equaliser cancelled out Harry Kane’s penalty in normal time, the supporters and likely the players on the pitch were expecting history to repeat itself when it was confirmed that penalties were going to decide the tie. And when Jordan Henderson’s spot-kick was saved by David Ospina to give Colombia a 3-2 advantage it seemed like the Three Lions were forever cursed in shoot-outs.
Then when Colombia had the opportunity to set themselves up for a place in the quarter-final, the pressure got to Mateus Uribe as he cannoned his effort off the crossbar. Defender Kieran Trippier had the nerve to step up and take the fourth and put England on level terms, bringing the shoot-out to sudden death. England were able to break their curse, going back to 1996 when they had last won a shoot-out after Jordan Pickford denied Carlos Bacca before Eric Dier slotted home to send everyone into a state of pandemonium.
Manchester United vs Chelsea - Champions League final 2008, 1-1 (6-5)
The setting was Moscow as a memorable shoot-out was played out in a classic all-English final after a 1-1 scoreline after 120 minutes. It was the Red Devils to go first and forward Carlos Tevez was calm and collected as he coolly slotted past Petr Cech to get things rolling. After the first four penalties across both teams were successful it was Cristiano Ronaldo who was the first to be denied as Cech knew precisely where the Portuguese star was going. Frank Lampard stepped up to punish him for his miss, but he was fortunate himself after Edwin van der Sar got a fingertip on his low shot. The Dutchman was close to thwarting Ashley Cole’s spot-kick too but it found its way through. It was nearly curtains for Manchester United and Cech came close to sealing their fate having gotten a glove on Nani’s penalty, but that one also found its way through into the net.
Then came the most memorable moment of the shoot-out and the game as John Terry slipped as he stepped up to take his penalty which would have crowned the Blues as European champions, but his effort hit the right post. Van der Sar then went on to win the game for the Red Devils when he denied Nicolas Anelka. It was one of the most gripping and bizarre shoot-outs you will ever see.
Olympiacos vs AEK Athens - Greek Cup final 2009, 4-4 (15-14)
This game was a thriller from start to finish and it featured former Blackburn Rovers striker Matt Derbyshire coming off the bench for Olympiacos, scoring twice to bring his side level and then having to be substituted himself because of concussion. After 120 minutes of gripping football, supporters were then subjected to a lengthy shoot-out in which both goalkeepers scored twice. It was truly an anomaly, but the crowd definitely got their money’s worth, even if it was a nervy rollercoaster of emotions. Olympiacos goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis made himself the hero after scoring the decisive kick, having just saved one - this just further highlighted the beauty of football.
Bayern Munich vs Chelsea - Champions League final 2012, 1-1 (3-4)
This was the year that Chelsea made amends for their own final heartbreak in Moscow four years before and it was their legendary striker Didier Drogba who stole the headlines in what was the last game of his Chelsea career (or so we thought). The Ivory Coast international’s late bullet header cancelled out Thomas Muller’s opener which only came minutes before to carry Roberto Di Matteo’s side into extra-time which eventually led the Blues to another dreaded shoot-out. It was a much happier affair this time around as they stunned the German giants in their own backyard.
At first it seemed like fate was against them again as Philipp Lahm slotted as Juan Mata was denied by Manuel Neuer. Mario Gomez was on target for the hosts and David Luiz fired home after a lengthy run up before Neuer stepped up to slot one past Petr Cech. Frank Lampard then held his nerve to blast his effort into the roof of the net before Cech denied Ivica Olic. Ashley Cole then levelled things up as Bastian Schweinsteiger gave the Blues the chance to win the match as his effort was tipped onto the post by Cech. Last orders came down on Drogba, who from 12 yards coolly found the bottom left corner to crown Chelsea as the European champions as a parting gift.