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Ranked! The 11 worst misses in football

Matt Ritchie dropped a clanger in Newcastle's win over Burnley on Monday night, but can he compare to these all-time howlers? Greg Lea watches on aghast

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11. Fernando Torres, Chelsea vs Man United

Torres has his fair share of happy memories from Old Trafford, not least a stonking performance in Liverpool’s 4-1 triumph in March 2009. Yet this agonising moment two-and-a-half years later epitomised his Chelsea struggles more than any other, as the forlorn Spaniard contrived to slice a shot into Row D with the goal gaping.

Torres had done the hard part, rounding David de Gea with a neat stepover and shimmy, but his composure deserted him when he needed it most. At least the Stretford End were sympathetic.

10. Diego Forlan, Man United vs Juventus

Pre-season friendlies may be primarily about building fitness and integrating new signings, but there’s still a certain level of expectation involved. You wouldn’t expect a professional footballer to miss an open goal from six yards just because there aren’t points on the line, for example.  

Yet that’s exactly what Forlan did in this non-competitive clash with Juventus in summer 2003, picking up from where he left off after a debut half-season at Manchester United which yielded a grand total of zero goals in 18 appearances for the Uruguayan.

9. Peter van Vossen, Rangers vs Celtic 

The worst thing about this passage of play should be Celtic’s appalling attempt to play offside, but Van Vossen spared the Bhoys’ blushes by fluffing his own line(s) in extraordinary fashion.

Jorg Albertz did brilliantly to draw out Celtic goalkeeper Stewart Kerr and square the ball for his Dutch team-mate, but Van Vossen never looked comfortable and proceeded to commit the cardinal sin of leaning back. We’re not buying that desperate search for a divot, either.

8. Freddie Ljungberg, Arsenal vs Bolton 

What a goal this would have been. Ljungberg was involved right from the start, shifting the ball wide right to Jose Antonio Reyes, who was fortunate to ricochet it back to the Swede. Patrick Vieira eventually received possession in the centre and dug out a lovely pass to Dennis Bergkamp, who fed Robert Pires on the overlap.

The Frenchman did everything right, beating his marker with ease and picking out the unmarked Ljungberg four yards out. All he had to do was roll it into the empty net, but the winger remarkably skied it over the bar instead.

7. Jakub Blaszczykowski, Borussia Dortmund vs Freiburg

Compared to many of the entries on this list, Blaszczykowski was a fair distance from goal when he pulled the trigger against Freiburg in 2010. In hindsight, his mistake was taking on the shot too early, but that still doesn’t explain how the Pole failed to find the net – or even hit the frame of the goal.

At least Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp saw the funny side. “Instead of running with the ball into goal he sends it over,” the German chuckled afterwards. “This can happen, no problem. But I think we will see this [missed] chance a few more times.”

6. Ronny Rosenthal, Liverpool vs Aston Villa 

Rosenthal got his Liverpool career off to the perfect start with seven goals in his first eight games – including a debut hat-trick against Charlton – but he was never able to maintain such a scoring rate once his loan move was made permanent.

This miss in 1992 is one of the most memorable in Premier League history. After racing on to a long kick from David James, Rosenthal rounded Aston Villa goalkeeper Nigel Spink, took a touch to steady himself and hit a left-footed shot… against the bar.