Wales striker Robert Earnshaw sent England on their way to the Euro 2012 finals last night, handing them a 1-0 victory with a colossal miss 13 minutes from time at Wembley.
The memory of stabbing the ball over the bar from five yards out will live with Earnshaw for ever. Yet there is some comfort for the tiny, hapless Welshman: he’s not even close to inclusion in our top ten football misses of all time!
10. Chris Iwelumo, Scotland v Norway 2008
It’s 0-0 in a tense international, but not for long: Scotland’s Chris Iwelumo only has to side-foot it into an open goal with his left peg from three yards. Or he could choose to use his other foot and boot it out for a goal kick instead. Often known simply as “The Scotch Miss”, it’s even better with the radio commentary.
9. Jean-Claude Darcheville, Rangers v Lyon 2007
Another miss that becomes a classic when you add the commentary: listen as the Scottish analysts, who are already on the verge of a coronary during Barry Ferguson’s run through the Lyon defence, scream with sheer terror as Darcheville skies it.
8. David Villa, Spain v Lithuania 2010
It can happen to anyone. David Villa, spearhead of world and European champions Spain’s attack, is the lethal £34m marksman who never misses… apart from here. The best striker in the world fails to convert a chance your gran could put away without spilling her Ovaltine.
7. Peter Devine, Lancaster City v Whitley Bay 1991
The pressure of taking a penalty can make those few steps up to the ball seem like a long, long way. They’re almost too far for Peter Devine, who barely makes it and almost ends up closer to the goal than the ball.
6. Ronnie Rosenthal, Liverpool v Aston Villa 1992
The purist’s choice. Israeli striker Ronnie Rosenthal virtually invented the modern football miss with this visionary fiasco. Watch how he brilliantly controls the ball, rounds the keeper, takes a touch to steady himself and then honks it against the woodwork with no opponent in sight. Textbook.
5. Rui Miguel, CSKA Sofia v Cliftonville 2010
Getting beyond “easier to score” territory and into “impossible not to score, but he still hasn’t” here, as the Portuguese hotshot thighs it magnificently onto the top of the goal from 46 millimetres.
4. Ilja Sivonjic, Dinamo Zagreb v Cibalia Vinkovci 2009
Miguel must be attempting to kick himself, however, in the light of this earlier, even greater miss from midfield maestro Ilja Sivonjic. Gasp as the Croatian heroically stretches forward to prevent his own team scoring.
3. Fahad Khalfan, Qatar v Uzbekistan 2010
Great to see some top young missers coming through from the less established football nations: the boy Khalfan shows incredible skill for an 18-year-old here, bending the ball beautifully away from the target from fully four yards. Frightening.
2. Rocky Baptiste, Harrow Borough v Waltham Abbey 2009
Real Roy of the Rovers stuff as, in the dying seconds of the game, Harrow ace Rocky Baptiste canters past the keeper and then, toying with the poor Waltham defenders, takes the ball right up to the goal line before blasting it with terrifying power. Bosh! Throw-in to Waltham.
1. Nikolaos Georgiadis, Nikolaos Kaltzas and Georgios Saitiotis, Veria v Levadiakos 2010
Moments of individual flummery are all very well, but football is a team sport. It must have taken months of painstaking work by the Veria coaching staff to get their boys to this level: Levadiakos can only stand and admire as Georgiadis, Kaltzas and Saitiotis take turns to shank it against the frame of the goal. Very much the Brazil 1970 of misses.