by Stephen Crawford
What a competition the 2011 Copa America has been so far. After enduring a severe goal drought at the beginning, we then witnessed a flurry of matches where the ball had to be plucked from the net on numerous occasions, and the watching world has now been stunned by a set of quarter-finals where every favourite was dumped out of the competition.
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- Copa America Team of the Quarter-Finals - Forlan & Juan Vargas impress
- Neymar, Pato & Ganso fail to inspire during humiliating exit
However, the worst culprits of all were Brazil, who made history in La Plata by becoming the only side ever in the Copa America to fail to convert a single penalty in a shoot-out, squandering four attempts as they crashed out against Paraguay.
So, to pay homage to the quartet of Samba stars who couldn't net from 12 yards, Goal.com has put together a list of spot-kick shockers from the past.
|1986 EUROPEAN CUP FINAL: Steaua Bucharest 0-0 Barcelona (2-0 pens.)
Penalties Taken: 8
Penalties Missed: 6
The Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, home of La Liga giants Sevilla, was the location for one of the most memorable and astounding penalty shootouts of all time: the 1986 European Cup final between Steaua Bucharest and Spanish natives Barcelona.
After 120 minutes of play could not separate the sides, underdogs Steaua became the first – and remain the only – Romanian side to ever emerge victorious in a European Cup final, when goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam managed to keep out all four Catalan spot-kicks.
The shot-stopper is still affectionately known as 'The hero of Seville' in his home country as a result of his valiant efforts between the sticks.
|EURO 2000 SEMI-FINAL: Italy 0-0 Netherlands (3-1 pens.)
Penalties Taken: 8
Penalties Missed: 4
In 2000, despite sharing the hosting rights with Belgium, the Netherlands had the pleasure of playing all of their European Championship matches on home soil. Spending their time between Ajax and Feyenoord's home grounds during the group stages, the co-hosts easily finished top of their table, overcoming eventual tournament winners France in the process.
They faced a resilient Italy side, but when Gianluca Zambrotta saw red after just 34 minutes, the home crowd would have been forgiven for sensing victory in the air. Their roof-bursting morale, however, would soon plummet back to earth.
The Netherlands went on to win not one, but two penalties in normal time, and Kluivert joined Frank de Boer in failing to convert from the spot, allowing the Italians to hold on for 120 gruelling minutes.
Still reeling from his earlier aberration, De Boer missed again, and set the tone for the shoot-out. Japp Stam blazed over, before Paolo Maldini then missed for the Azzurri, restoring some Dutch hope. Francesco Toldo soon extinguished their dream when he kept out Paul Bosvelt's effort to take Italy to the final.
|2006 WORLD CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Portugal 0-0 England (3-1 pens.)
Penalties Taken: 9
Penalties Missed: 5
Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo became a legend when he heroically saved a Darius Vassell penalty without wearing gloves, before scoring from the spot himself to dump England out of Euro 2004.
Two years later at the 2006 World Cup, the Three Lions were given the chance to exact revenge.
However, the Chelsea stalwart failed to convert, and paved the road to failure. Hugo Viana, Petit, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher all followed suit; only Owen Hargreaves found the net admidst the chaos.
A conversion by Helder Postiga gave Portugal a 2-1 edge, and Cristiano Ronaldo's controlled strike eventually secured victory for Luis Felipe Scolari's side, crushing English hopes yet again.
|1985 FINNISH CUP FINAL: Haka 2-2 HJK Helsinki (2-1 pens.)
Penalties Taken: 12
Penalties Missed: 9
In 1985, hapless history was made in Scandinavia when Haka's Finnish Cup final against HJK Helsinki ended with the lottery of spot-kicks.
Despite a failure to overcome their opponents in normal and extra-time, Haka fans fancied their chances, as they were armed with Finnish international goalkeeper Olavi 'Olli' Huttunen – a custodian widely regarded as one of the greatest shot-stoppers in the nation's history.
A total of eight penalties were taken before the scoring commenced, and it was HJK's Juha Dahllund who gave his side the advantage. It was then equalise or lose for Haka, and who else but Huttunen took to the spot, carrying out his task with ease to keep his club in the contest.
Having just rescued his side, Huttunen then saved the next effort, meaning current Finland coach Mixu Paatelainen's triumphant strike proved to be the winner in a historical final that took 12 penalties to decide – but had a success rate of just 25 per cent from 12 yards.
| 1994 WORLD CUP FINAL: Brazil 0-0 Italy (3-2 pens.)
Penalties Taken: 9
Penalties Missed: 4
The 1994 World Cup showdown between Brazil and Italy earns its place due the sheer historical magnitude of the event. This was the first-ever World Cup to be decided by penalties – and the relevance of the occasion doesn't end there.
Italian morale was soon restored as Demetrio Albertini opened the scoring, but it became inevitable than a miss was in the offing as the sides exchanged successful efforts.
Daniele Massaro was unsuccessful with Italy's fourth attempt, meaning Selecao captain Dunga's conversion put enormous pressure on Roberto Baggio. If the Azzurri had to pick one person to keep them in the game, they would have bet on the man with the ponytail, who had almost single-handedly guided them to the final.
But it was not to be for the legendary striker, whose shot cleared the crossbar and gifted Brazil their fourth World Cup title - a memory far sweeter than this year's Copa America embarrassment.