Football matches with more goals than the penalty kicks that followed

Guardian sport
·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

“In the Europa League qualifiers I saw the remarkable scoreline of Backa Topola 6-6 Steaua Bucharest, with Steaua winning 5-4 on penalties,” writes Jeremy Orbell. “Are there any other high-scoring examples of the shoot-out containing fewer goals than the match?”

“While not exactly meeting the criteria of ‘high-scoring’, you probably all know what happened in the 1985 Finnish Cup final,” jests Jim Hearson. “Just in case anyone isn’t aware, Haka and HJK played out a 2-2 draw after extra-time, before the former edged it 2-1 on penalties, despite not scoring any of their first four. This and others feature on the sublime waste of time that is” There’s also the Champions League final of 2005, which Liverpool won 3-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw with Milan. But much like the Finnish Cup final, you probably haven’t heard much about it and, again, is it “high-scoring” enough to satisfy Jeremy? It’s probably borderline.

Related: Football: Knowledge - the highest-scoring international draws

“The final of the South African League Cup in 1998 between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns went to extra-time with the score 1-1,” offers George Jones. “A goal for either side in the added 30 minutes took the game to penalties with the score 2-2. A shambolic shootout meant it took 12 (mostly dire) spot-kicks before Kaizer eventually limped out 2-1 winners.”

Chris Charlton winds the clock back to 1990 and the Copa Libertadores semi-final between Colombia’s Atlético Nacional and Paraguay’s Olimpia. “Over two legs it finished 4-4 on aggregate before Olimpia won the shootout 2-1,” he writes. “Nacional’s goalkeeper was the now legendary Rene ‘Scorpion Kick’ Higuita.” Thanks as well to Steve Hyde for this thread too:

Elsewhere, third division Chemnitzer drew 5-5 with Mainz in the first round of the 2014-15 German Cup before going on to win 5-4 on penalties. Peter Anram points out that Liverpool and Arsenal played out an Anglo version of this match on 30 October 2019, with the final score 5-5 and shootout ending 5-4 in Liverpool’s favour, Curtis Jones slotting home the winning penalty. We doubt we will do better than this, as our research tells us that 6-6 is the highest recorded score draw in the professional game’s history, so we’d be looking at a 6-6 draw and a 6-5 win on pens to beat Steaua and Backa Topola’s incredible efforts. If you’re aware of that happening, do let us know.

Top-flight stalwarts leading teams into Football League

“Are there any players with more Premier League experience than Jon Stead (86 games) who have later gone on to lead a team into the Football League?” asks Paul Moran.

“One that springs to mind for me is Mike Marsh,” suggests Steve Davies. “He played in the top flight 133 times for Liverpool, West Ham and Coventry. Sadly his career was cut short by injury and as he had taken an insurance pay out was no longer allowed to play the professional game. He had a very successful time as a semi-pro though, and under Jan Molby, he was promoted to the Football League in 2000 with Kidderminster.

“Obviously Marsh then had to leave as he couldn’t step back into the professional game but went on to Southport and then Boston, where he again helped them get into the Football League before having to leave once more. So Marsh played more than Stead in the top flight and he then got promotion into the Football League twice.”

Mike Marsh went into coaching after his playing career ended and has worked at Liverpool and Swansea City.
Mike Marsh went into coaching after his playing career ended and has worked at Liverpool and Swansea City. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Bergkamp’s Euro road trips

“Dennis Bergkamp’s fear of flying was well known. What was the furthest trip he made by land and/or sea to travel to a European opponent? Either by distance or travel time?” asks William Prunier.

David Bullock has played the kind of blinding assist that the Dutchman would have been proud of to help us answer this one. “Bergkamp played several away European ties during his Arsenal career. Here’s the list by miles (in car), according to Google Maps, from Highbury.”

  • Lens (168 miles) Sept 1998, Champions League (Draw 1-1)

  • Fiorentina (961 miles) - Sept 1999 in the Champions League (Draw 0-0)

  • Barcelona (929 miles) - Sept 1999 in the Champions League (Draw 1-1)

  • Lens (168 miles) - April 2000 in the Uefa Cup Semi Final (Won 2-1)

  • Copenhagen (784 miles) - May 2000, Uefa Cup Final v Galatasaray (Lost 1-4)

  • PSV (Eindhoven) (288 miles) - Sept 2002, Champions League (Won 4-0)

  • Ajax (Amsterdam) (329 miles) - Feb 2003, Champions League (Draw 0-0)

Dennis Bergkamp travelled 929 miles on road to trip Rivaldo at the Camp Nou.
Dennis Bergkamp travelled 929 miles on road to trip Rivaldo in a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou. Photograph: Stu Forster/Allsport

Knowledge archive

“On Saturday Bolton substituted Giannakopoulos for Ba. Is this the longest name substitution for the shortest ever?” asked Brendan Lyons in February 2004.

“If Dutch striker extraordinaire Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink has ever been substituted for anyone I think it would break the record,” answered Ian Green. “And just because I can’t be bothered finding out I surely deserve credit for spelling his name correctly.” Yes Ian, well done for that classic cut-and-paste action. PSV weren’t really big on short names, with stars down the years such as Remco van der Schaaf and Dennis Rommedahl, so Jan’s 20 letters could only be replaced by a still-too-large five, in the form of, say, Colin or Faber. That said, the difference between the two would be 15, a bigger gulf than the 12 letters between Giannakopoulos and Ba. What we can’t decide is which deserves the record. What we do know is they both make bloody expensive shirts.

Knowledge archive

Can you help?

“It used to be the standard retirement plan for a player to run a pub after leaving the game. Who was the last top-flight player in England known to have done this?” wonders Ian Robson.

“Which footballer has played the fewest number of minutes or seconds in the Premier League?” asks Bogdan Kotarlic.

“Which manager has managed the most teams without ever getting the sack?” muses Tim Postins.

“Whilst idly browsing Wikipedia recently I found that Liverpool last finished with a negative goal difference in the 1964-65 season,” begins Simon Bradly. “I wondered if any club in any national top flight could beat this and I hit upon Barcelona, whose last negative goal difference was in 1941-42, an incredible run of 78 seasons in the black. Can anyone top that?”

“In the 74th minute of Saturday’s match between Celtic and Livingston both teams made substitutions during the same stoppage in play. Celtic brought on James Forrest, while Livingston brought on his brother Alan. This was notable for the Forrests as it was the first time they have played against each other, but I was wondering if there have been any other instances of brothers playing for opposing teams coming on as substitutes at the same time?” asks Alan Reid.

Send your questions and answers to or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.