SAFC BEST (AND WORST) PENALTY SHOOTOUTS



Unless you’ve been living under a rock or you hate pizza you’ll have seen that Sunderland progressed to the Papa John’s Trophy Final after a penalty shoot out win over Lincoln. After a routine Charlie Wyke header cancelled out Anthony Scully's tap-in the game finished 1-1 and went straight to a penalty shootout. The Black Cats scored all five of their spot kicks, however Luke O’Nien and Chris Maguire were extremely fortunate with their efforts. That being said the opposition also had lucky escapes with a few of theirs. Lincoln's Remy Howarth was not as fortunate as the rest as his spot kick crashed off the bar, which allowed Grant Leadbitter to slot home from 12 yards and send the lads to Wembley.


A penalty shoot-out makes for exciting viewing when you’re not watching the team you support, when watching your own team it’s a tense, nervy and heart racing affair. For some reason I think watching Sunderland in a penalty shoot out is quite rare but over the years we’ve had our fair share of battles from 12 yards. This article will look at some of the best and worst Sunderland penalty shoot outs from over the years.

CAPITAL ONE CUP SEMI-FINAL vs MANCHESTER UNITED, JANUARY 2014

After two closely contested legs and some extra time dramatics from Phil Bardsley and Javier Hernandez the game went to penalties at Old Trafford. Apart from last night this is one of the best shootouts we’ve been involved in, which is ironic because the actual spot kicks were shocking, only three out of the ten taken were scored. Craig Gardner missed our first attempt before ex-Sunderland loanee Danny Welbeck blazed United’s first spot kick over the bar. Steven Fletcher then missed our second penalty but his namesake Darren scored his penalty, which was United’s only successful attempt. Marcos Alonso registered our first successful spot kick before the heroic Vito Mannone denied Adnan Januzaj. After Ki scored our second penalty Phil Jones fired another Man U attempt over the bar. This gave Adam Johnson the chance to send us to Wembley however the agony of the shootout went on as David De Gea saved his effort. Vito Mannone then wrote himself into recent Sunderland folklore by saving Rafael’s penalty and sending Sunderland to Wembley. The celebrations than ensued amongst the players and the 9,000 travelling fans will remain in the memories of Sunderland fans for a long long time.

CHECKATRADE TROPHY FINAL vs PORTSMOUTH, MARCH 2019

Just more than 85,000 fans descended on Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy Final in March 2019. After a deflected Aiden McGeady free kick handed us the lead we sat back and further back and even further back before Nathan Thompson's header levelled the scores and the game went to extra time. Jamal Lowe's lob over Jon McLaughlin looked to have won it late in extra-time for Pompey. However in the 119th minute Aiden McGeady pounced on a ball from Charlie Wyke and the ball trickled into the net to take the game to a shootout. I was right on the top of the second goal that day, up in the top tier at Wembley and it honestly felt like time was standing still, the ball seemed to take forever to cross the line. After an exhausting 120 minutes it was left to penalties. Lee Cattermole was the only player not to convert from 12 yards in the shootout as Craig MacGillivray saved to his left. I think I speak for every Sunderland fan when I say that when Cattermole started walking towards the penalty spot I thought there’s no chance he’ll score this. Regardless of that it takes some courage to set up forward to take a penalty in front of 85,000 people. In the end Oli Hawkins struck the decisive spot kick as Portsmouth won 5-4 on penalties.

FIRST DIVISION PLAY OFF SEMI FINAL vs CRYSTAL PALACE, MAY 2004

After missing out on automatic promotion Sunderland went into the play offs as favourites and faced a Crystal Palace side, who had gate-crashed the play-offs on the final day of the season. Sunderland lost the first leg 3-2 at Selhurst Park but still went into the game at the Stadium of Light with a belief that they could reach the final in Cardiff. We needed to win by 2 goals to advance and we got both of these late in the first half through Kevin Kyle and Marcus Stewart. We were on course for the final under disaster struck in stoppage time. Mart Poom misjudged a corner and Darren Powell crashed a header in off the bar to level the tie on aggerate and send the game to extra time. After an extra 30 minutes couldn’t split the teams it was left down to penalties. John Oster missed our first penalty before Tommy Smith, Phil Babb, Carl Robinson and Gary Breen converted our remaining kicks. However Palace converted their first four spot kicks, giving Shaun Derry the chance to win the tie. He blew his lines which sent the shoot out into ‘sudden death’. However Jason McAteer missed his penalty giving Palace another chance to win, a young Wayne Routledge stepped forward and like Derry before him Mart Poom saved his spot kick. Sunderland failed to capitalise on Poom’s heroics as Jeff Whitley's attempt to outsmart the Palace keeper backfired as his effort was saved. Michael Hughes then stepped up and stroked home the winner from twelve yards sending Palace to Cardiff for the final.

CARLING CUP THIRD ROUND vs NORTHAMPTON, SEPTEMBER 2008

The only reason I have included this is because it’s one of the few penalty shoot outs we’ve actually won. I had totally forgot about this game which is probably because eight year old me wasn’t allowed to go as it was too late for a school night. Roy Keane described the game as being, “probably one of the worst nights I have ever had in my football career”, so I wouldn’t have liked to have been in the Sunderland dressing room that night! League One Northampton were looking likely to cause a huge cup upset as they were 2-0 up at the Stadium of Light with nine minutes to go. However sub Anthony Stokes forced extra time with two dramatic late goals, he scored in the 86th minute then headed in Andy Reid's corner via the crossbar three minutes into injury time. After nothing could separate the teams in extra time the game went to penalties. Michael Chopra scored Sunderland's first penalty, but Northampton's Mark Hughes missed their opening attempt. Daryl Murphy and Adebayo Akinfenwa both scored before Stokes clipped the bar to give Northampton renewed hope. Holt and Osman scored for Northampton and Andy Reid hit the target for Sunderland. Kieran Richardson's successful spot kick then put pressure on Leon Constantine, and the late Martin Fulop produced a superb save to break Northampton's hearts.

FIRST DIVISION PLAY OFF FINAL vs CHARLTON, MAY 1998

Possibly the most famous penalty shootout we’ve been involved in. After trailing 1-0, then leading 2-1 and 3-2 in normal time Sunderland couldn’t hold on to the lead and the game finished 3-3. We took the lead once more in extra time but surrendered our advantage again, with the game finishing 4-4 in extra time. After a Wembley classic, a place in the Premier League was to be decided from 12 yards. Sunderland went into the shootout without two of their regular penalty-takers as both Kevin Phillips and Lee Clark had been replaced through injury. Following the script of normal time there was nothing to separate the teams. Both sides scored their first five spot kicks with Nicky Summerbee, Allan Johnston, Kevin Ball, Chris Makin and Alex Rae slotting away their spot kicks for the lads. After the shout out moved to ‘sudden death’ the penalty shoot-out was tied at 6-6 when Michael Gray stepped up and I think we all know what happened next.