The Joy Of The Penalty Shoot-Out: Landmark Victories In The Use Of Spot-Kicks To Win Trophies

Martin Cloake

25th, February 2016


On 25th February 2001, Liverpool lifted the League Cup against Birmingham City after emerging victorious in the first ever penalty shoot-out used to decide a major English football competition.

The Reds won 5-4 on penalties after the Blues snatched a last-minute equaliser in normal time. Jamie Carragher despatched his kick, and when City striker Andy Johnson saw his tame shot saved by Sander Westerveld, the trophy was on its way up to Merseyside.

The first penalty shoot-out in a professional game in England took place in 1970 at Boothferry Park, Hull, when Manchester United beat The Tigers in the Watney Cup (more on that landmark encounter here).

FA Cup penalty shoot-outs began in 1972, specifically in the short-lived third-place play off game. They were then introduced to the main completion in 1991/92 to prevent ties going beyond one replay.

On the continent, the shoot-out first arrived in European club competition in 1970/71, when Hungarian side Honved beat Aberdeen 5-4 in the first round of the Cup Winners’ Cup.

International football’s first major tournament to be decided by spot-kicks was the 1976 European championships. Czechoslovakia and West Germany had drawn the final and UEFA had set up a replay – but the two sides opted to settle things through penalties. Czechoslovakia won 5-3, meaning the Germans lost on penalties.

You don’t often get to write that.

While we’re on the subject, the first World Cup Final to be settled on penalties was the stultifyingly dull 1994 final between Brazil and Italy in Pasadena, USA.

Any residual opposition to the use of penalties to decide major games was swept away as the watching millions gave collective thanks that the shoot-out would finally bring proceedings to a close.

Brazil won 3-2 after Roberto Baggio was good enough to give the final the mercy killing it deserved.

You can follow Martin Cloake on Twitter at @MartinCloake and find more about his books and writing at

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