Champions League Penalty Shootouts: 11 dramatic finals decided from the spot

The UEFA Champions League Final is the prestige footballing match in European football. Each and every season, two powerhouses of the game will earn the privilege of battling out this showpiece event, with one eventually prevailing to claim the much-adored trophy.  The 2022/23 edition will take place on Saturday 10th June 2023, when Manchester City and Inter Milan descend onto Istanbul in search of their latest trophy.

However, sometimes the margins are so fine in a game such as this that there is only one way to separate them. That of course comes to the humble penalty shootout, which is great for the neutral but rather traumatic experiences for those with a vested interest.  Even the very best of the game have stepped up from 12 yards out and been overawed by the occasion. Heroes are created both by the man taking the spot-kick, as well as the goalkeeper between the sticks guarding his net.

Champions League Finals Penalties
Photo by Eric Renard / Onze / Icon Sport

There has been as many as 11 UEFA Champions League Finals which has gone the distance and required penalties to decide the winner. We will take a brief look at each of those below, with the first such event occurring way back in the early 1980s.

1983/84 – Liverpool 1-1 Roma – Liverpool win 4-2 on pens

Roma’s first ever appearance in this game also took place at their own stadium, but it was a Liverpool side that was a winning machine at this time in their history that prevailed on penalties in the end. That was despite The Reds being the first team to miss from the spot. Despite Steve Nichol missing that penalty, Liverpool went on to score all their remaining four, with Alan Kennedy slotting home the winning kick. Roma would twice sky over the crossbar.

1985/86 – Steaua Bucharest 0-0 Barcelona – Steaua Bucharest win 2-0 on pens

Seville was the destination for the 1985/86 edition of the competition and it was a game that contained very few goals, including the penalty shootout! 90 minutes and extra time played through without either side finding the back of the net, and it was Barcelona that was second best in the shootout thanks to an inspired goalkeeping performance. Steaua keeper Helmuth Duckadam saved all four penalties, and they could afford to still miss two pens of their own before sealing a 2-0 shootout triumph. This, along with winning the UEFA Super League the following season still remains their only European trophies.

1987/88 – PSV Eindhoven 0-0 Benfica – PSV Eindhoven win 6-5 on pens

Another 0-0 played out a few years after the most recent, but this time there was a few more goals in the shootout for the watching public to end. As for the team that enjoyed it the most, that would be the victorious PSV Eindhoven, who edged out Benfica 6-5 from 12 yards. The game in normal time wasn’t the most exciting of affairs despite the quality of player on show, so nerves clearly played their part. Only one of the 11 pens was missed, with António Veloso being the unlucky man.

1990/91 – Red Star Belgrade 0-0 Marseille – Red Star Belgrade win 5-3 on pens

Sense a theme here? Yes, another 0-0 materialised across 90 minutes and also extra time in Bari, before both teams were called up to take their penalties. Both were appearing in their maiden UEFA Champions League Final, and it was Red Star Belgrade the eventual victors. Each and every one of their five penalties would find the back of the net. Marseille failed to convert their first through full back Manuel Amoros, and that proved to be the difference in the end. Red Star have never won this competition since.

1995/96 – Juventus 1-1 Ajax – Juventus win 4-2 on pens

Rome was again the destination to host yet another UEFA Champions League Final that went the distance. Juventus would be the team celebrating after all was said and done, earning them their second title in this competition. The match finished 1-1 in normal time, and extra time could not separate them, either. Juventus were a cool 100% with their four pens, but twice Ajax failed to deliver the goods. Future Juventus player Edgar Davids was one of those, the second being Sonny Silooy.

2000/01 – Bayern Munich 1-1 Valencia – Bayern Munich win 5-4 on pens

Penalties was the name of the game in this one and both goals in regular time came from the penalty spot. Furthermore, Bayern Munich ironically also missed another penalty in this game, but it did not prove costly in the end. This shootout also went into sudden death, with each side taking a total of seven pens each. Bayern missed two compared to Valencia’s three, and they had goalkeeper Oliver Kahn to thank for that. His save from Mauricio Pellegrino’s strike sealed Bayern’s first title in this competition since 1975/76.

2002/03 – AC Milan 0-0 Juventus – AC Milan win 3-2 on pens

Old Trafford, Manchester, played host to this huge occasion and again both teams just could not find that elusive breakthrough in both normal time and extra time. In the end, it was a 50-50 split in terms of penalties scored compared to penalties not converted. The difference being AC Milan scored one more than their Italian rivals, with Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko having the honour of scoring the winning goal.

2004/05 – Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan – Liverpool win 3-2 on pens

Arguably the most famous UEFA Champions League Final of them all took place in Istanbul, like this season’s edition. When we say Istanbul, we instantly thinking of this historic final. AC Milan led 3-0 at half time, but the game ended 3-3 after 90 minutes following a remarkable comeback. Rafa Benitez’s side would hold their nerve in the shootout, winning 3-2. Ironically, Andriy Shevchenko on this occasion saw his penalty saved, two years after scoring the winning pen.

2007/08 – Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea – Manchester United win 6-5 on penalties

This all-English affair proved to be an exciting contest from first minute to last. Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Lampard both found the back of the net, and nobody else would add to this tally until spot-kicks arrived. Ronaldo would be the only United player to miss during the shootout, but thankfully for him the opposing John Terry and Nicolas Anelka did so too. It proved a rather poignant success for Manchester United with this game coming during the year of the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

2011/12 – Chelsea 1-1 Bayern Munich – Chelsea win 4-3 on pens

Chelsea would eventually gain some kind of payback in this final when this time successfully negotiating a shootout. Bayern Munich was the opposition, and Bayern’s Allianz Arena was hosting, so the London club had plenty against them heading into this game. Thomas Müller’s 83rd-minute strike looked to have claimed the crown, but Didier Drogba’s powerfully header five minutes later took this to extra time. Neither could be separated in that part of the clash, and it was Drogba who slotted home the winner to confirm Chelsea’s first UEFA Champions League success.

2015/16 – Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid – Real Madrid win 5-3 on pens

The most recent shootout in this famous fixture came during the battle of the Madrid teams in 2015/16. When trailing 1-0 in normal time, Atletico would miss a penalty in the second-half when Antoine Griezmann struck the bar, but Yannick Carrasco’s equaliser eventually took this to extra time. After the opening seven penalties were scored, Juanfran’s missed allowed Real legend Cristiano Ronaldo to score the winner. Following this victory, Real Madrid would win the UEFA Champions League the following two seasons, too. They remain the only side in the Champions League era to win this competition three times in a row.

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