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How many times has the World Cup final been decided by a penalty shoot-out?

It hasn’t happened often during the final itself but sometimes there is no alternative than to settle a game from the spot.

17 July 1994 World Cup Final 1994, Brazil v Italy - Los Angeles, Roberto Baggio has his hands on his knees in despair as the Brazilian team celebrate his missed penalty which won them the world cup. (Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images)
Mark LeechDiarioAS

Settling cup finals from the penalty spot may not be an ideal way of reaching an outcome if a game is locked in stalemate - obviously most fans would prefer to see a game resolved within 90 minutes. But sometimes, whether it’s down to bad luck, timing or just a case of the ball not entering, knockout ties and finals end up going into extra-time and if they are still level after that, penalties.

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At Qatar 2022, out of the 14 knockout ties leading up to Sunday’s final, four games have gone to extra-time then been settled by a penalty shoot-out.

Ties that went to extra-time at the Qatar 2022 World Cup

  • Round of 16
  • Japan 1-1 Croatia (1-3)
  • Morocco 0-0 Spain (3-0)
  • Quarter finals
  • Croatia 1-1 Brazil (4-2)
  • Netherlands 2-2 Argentina (3-4)

Being eliminated in a penalty shoot-out in the quarter finals or semi-finals must be heartbreaking but to lose a final in that way... In the 21 editions of the World Cup since 1930, seven finals have been taken into extra-time - one third. Out of those, all but two were resolved within 120 minutes and before a shoot-out was required.

World Cup finals that have gone to extra-time

  • 1934 Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia
  • 1966 England 4-2 West Germany
  • 1978 Argentina 3-1 Netherlands
  • 1994 Brazil 0-0 Italy (3-2)*
  • 2006 Italy 1-1 France (5-3)*
  • 2010 Spain 1-0 Netherlands
  • 2014 Germany 1-0 Argentina

Before Qatar 2022, two World Cup finals have ended level after full-time and extra-time, leaving no option but for the game to be settled by penalties. The first was the 1994 final between Brazil and Italy at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl when the United States hosted the tournament.

Few chances were created during the 90 minutes - just three attempts on target, all more or less straight at the keeper. And while both attempted to kill the game off in extra-time, there were no goals after two hours’ play which meant for the first time in history, the trophy would be decided from the penalty spot. Italy went first with captain Franco Baresi hoofing his effort way over. His disappointment was allayed, briefly, after Márcio Santos stepped up to see his shot parried away by keeper Gianluca Pagliuca. The next two players for both sides scored leaving it at 2-2 for the fourth penalty. Massaro’s weak strike was comfortably blocked by Taffarel, Dunga tucked his away inside the post which meant Roberto Baggio could not afford to miss. The Italian forward blazed over and Brazil were crowned champions for the fifth time - the first via a shoot-out.

Baggio, one of the star players at the tournament, could laugh about his penalty miss years later and believes that the late Brazilian F1 legend Ayrton Senna, who had died a couple of months earlier, was responsible for “sucking” the ball over the bar from the heavens.

The second time a World Cup final was decided by penalties was at Germany 2006. Italy were once again finalists, this time facing 1998 winners France. But unlike the final at USA 94, at least there were goals during the first 90 minutes. Zidane beat Buffon with a Penenka penalty in off the bar after just seven minutes but Italy were back level minutes later when Materazzi rose to nod home from a corner. Both players would later be involved in one of the most shocking incidents in World Cup history. The game ended level at 1-1 on 90 minutes and went into extra-time. Both oal scorers were seen exchanging words before the camera cut away to follow the ball. Moments later Materazzi was on the floor after being headbutted by the France captain. Zidane was sent off and that changed the tone for the remaining minutes.

In the shoot-out, David Trezeguet’s strike ricocheted off the crossbar - he was the only player of the nine takers to miss. Italy ended a 24-year wait to pick up their fourth trophy leaving Zidane to contemplate what might have been.

World Cup finals decided by a penalty shoot-out

  • 1994 Brazil 0-0 Italy (3-2)
  • 2006 Italy 1-1 France (5-3)

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