Aug 25, 2011
In celebration of Keeper Week here at World Soccer Shop, we’ve compiled what are arguably the top five penalty saves in the game… at least the modern era, anyway. And while there are countless impressive penalty saves to choose from, these five guys rose to the occasion with brilliant shot-stops when the pressure was highest. From the sprawling heroics in the dying minutes to the unorthodox antics in a cup final, these are some of the top saves from 12 yards out. Without further adieu, our picks for the best penalty saves.
5) Jens Lehmann comes up with this diving save against Villareal in the Champions League Semi-Finals. After a 1-0 Arsenal win in the first leg, Lehmann knew the tie was in his hands at the 90th minute. A goal and Arsenal are looking at extra time, but a save and they’re through…
4) Saves like this are why Iker Casillas has become a popular vote for the world’s best keeper in recent years. Here, he’s a full stretch to deny Daniele De Rossi and Italy in the Euro 2008 Semi-Finals.
3) Pepe Reina looked to be the villain for Liverpool after an early blunder in the 2006 FA Cup Final against West Ham, but after the Reds clawed back and pushed the game to penalties, Reina played the hero, producing three amazing saves to secure the cup and bring it home to Anfield.
2) If a player can make a case for themself as the best ever player in their position at Manchester United, they must be top class. Van der Sar falls into that category, and here he is making the title-winning save in the 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea. Classic Van der Sar – composed, clinical, productive.
1) Rounding out the lot, it’s hard to discount Jerzy Dudek’s wacky yet heroic saves for Liverpool in the 2005 Champion’s League Final, which is why he takes our top spot. Dudek came up with two point-blank saves in a row against AC Milan‘s Andriy Shevchenko in the dying minutes of overtime to push the Reds through to penalties, and eventually played hero in the shootout. Hey, we’re even giving him credit on Serginho’s penalty over the bar. Honestly, could you put a penalty on frame when the keeper is moving about like a worm in hot ashes? Didn’t think so.
So there’s our top five penalty saves. Who would fit into your top five penalty stoppers? If we go it wrong and left out your favorite keeper, let us know!