Analysis

Ranked! The 10 biggest howlers of the 2017/18 season

Sven Ulreich Real Madrid

Jon O’Brien reviews the campaign’s most comical cock-ups, from forgetful keepers and farcical red cards to premature celebrations and pitiful penalties

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10. Butland’s fumble

Jack Butland looked to have charred his chances of a place in England’s World Cup starting XI with a nightmare error during Stoke’s 1-1 draw with Leicester.

The 25-year-old, competing for the Three Lions’ No.1 shirt alongside Jordan Pickford, Joe Hart and Nick Pope, gifted the Foxes an equalizer in February when he parried Marc Albrighton’s weak cross into his own net.

He did, however, somewhat redeem himself with a handful of outstanding saves to earn his side a point and remind Gareth Southgate that one howler does not a bad keeper make.

9. Zentner’s air kick

A fine trilogy of German keeper blunders began back in October when Mainz shot-stopper Robin Zentner attempted to pass the ball to a nearby team-mate, only to find it had rolled a few yards behind him.

Borussia Monchengladbach’s Lars Stindl attempted to capitalize on the footballing equivalent of an air guitar, but Zentner managed to beat him to the ball – which he later admitted he’d confused with the penalty spot.

8. The premature celebration

A cup tie between Thailand’s Bangkok Sports Club and Satri Angthong wouldn’t typically be a source of worldwide interest.

But thanks to an exhausting penalty shootout, gravity and proof that you should never count your chickens before they hatch, its denouement made headlines across the globe.

Bangkok looked to have missed their 20th spot-kick when the ball bounced off the crossbar and rocketed towards the sky. But as the dejected taker stood motionless and the opposing keeper celebrated wildly, the ball dropped back down to earth and slowly bounced towards the line.

Cue a wild scramble back towards goal from said net-minder – but by then it was too late. And it got worse: Satri Angthong missed their next penalty.

7. You Watt?

From Graham Poll’s three yellow card fiasco to Reading’s 2008 phantom goal against Watford, referees have been responsible for their fair share of bizarre howlers over the years.

Dean Hulme joined that list in March after giving Hemel Hempstead Town’s Sanchez Watt his marching orders – simply for answering his name.

The former Arsenal prospect was doing little more than identifying himself after receiving a booking against East Thurrock United. But in a scene which resembled a Two Ronnies sketch, Hulme mistook his shouts of "Watt" for "what?" and upgraded his yellow to a red for dissent.

Thankfully, the ex-Leeds man’s dismissal was quickly rescinded when Hemel Hempstead captain Jordan Parkes helped Hulme realize that Watt isn’t a particularly uncommon surname.

6. Morata’s triple miss

Roman Abramovich may well have been scrambling around for his receipt after £60m signing Alvaro Morata wasted three glorious opportunities during January's 2-2 draw against Arsenal, in a severe case of the New Year blues.

Each one of the two-time Champions League winner's lame efforts could quite easily feature here, but we’ve opted for his first one-on-one against Petr Cech in which he hit an advertising hoarding slogan that, appropriately enough, read “a better way to spend money”.  

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