Ranked! The 11 worst misses in football

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5. Nwankwo Kanu, West Brom vs Middlesbrough

Had Kanu tried to put the ball where it ended up, he probably wouldn’t have been able to. This was a miss that defied the laws of physics as well as logic.

The Nigeria international, formerly of Ajax, Inter and Arsenal, had the ball put on a plate for him by ex-bricklayer Geoff Horsfield. But all Kanu could do was scoop it onto the roof of the net from a yard out. Horsfield couldn’t believe his eyes.

4. Fahad Khalfan, Qatar vs Uzbekistan 

A well-executed dummy can be both artistic and effective, but attempting one when you’re the goalkeeper and there’s an opponent bearing down on you isn’t usually the wisest idea. Uzbekistan custodian Timur Juraev collapsed – presumably in embarrassment – after letting the ball through his legs in this Asian Games quarter-final in 2010, leaving Fahad Khalfan with a golden chance to break the deadlock after just 45 seconds of extra time.

The Qatari took a touch to bring the ball into the centre of the goal, before somehow toe-poking it against the post. Although he should have gone with his right foot, it was still much harder to miss than score with his left.

3. Chris Iwelumo, Scotland vs Norway

When Iwelumo was called up to the Scotland squad to face Norway in 2008, he probably dreamed of scoring the winner on his international debut. Instead, the striker was forced to live out his worst nightmare, inexplicably directing Gary Naysmith’s low cross wide of the post from three yards out.

"My missus made me delete it from the Sky Plus after four or five days so, yes, I watched it,” Iwelumo admitted afterwards. “It was hard to do but I had to do it." The World Cup qualifier finished 0-0.

2. Arnaldo Vera, Libertad vs Emelec

The humble shin guard is a valuable piece of equipment in the often-violent surroundings of South American club football, but the protective pad did Vera no favours in this 2003 Copa Libertadores tie.

This was by no means a disappointing evening for the centre-back’s Paraguayan employers Libertad, who ran out 5-1 winners against Ecuadorian outfit Emelec, but Vera was responsible for perhaps the worst miss in the history of the competition when he shinned a shot against the bar from a yard. The Emelec defenders were so stunned at Vera’s failure to convert that they took an age to eventually hook the loose ball clear.

1. Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Nigeria vs South Korea 

Yakubu scored 21 goals for his country, a record that’s not to be sniffed at – least of all by the hitherto uncapped FFT. Yet it really should have been 22.

When the ball landed at his feet in this group stage clash at the 2010 World Cup, the then-Portsmouth striker was in the centre of the six-yard box with just three yards between him and the goal-line.

The South Korean defenders, meanwhile, were busy appealing for offside rather than attempting to apply pressure to their opponent. It didn’t matter, though, with Yakubu’s astonishing miscue ultimately proving costly as Nigeria finished bottom of Group B.

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