With 19 successful spot kicks, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the most penalties in Champions League history, one more than Lionel Messi. Below, we look at that and other penalty records for Europe’s elite club competition.
Who has taken the most penalties in Champions League history? Who has scored the most? Who has missed the most? And who has saved the most? These are all burning questions that, until now, no one has been able to answer.
Following Opta’s project to collect additional data missing from the early seasons of the competition, we can now reveal the answers to these questions.
Note: these records do not include those taken in penalty shootouts.
Who Has Taken the Most Penalties?
It won’t come as much of a surprise given their longevity and quality to see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo featuring highly in most of these tables. No one has stepped up to take more penalties than Messi, just one ahead of his rival.
In third for penalty takers is Robert Lewandowski, who perhaps has his eye on catching those two legends if the Barcelona striker manages another couple of seasons of Champions League football.
Special mention goes to former Chelsea man Timo Werner, who has taken the most penalties in Champions League history without ever missing one. He may not have shown his best form in England, but the German forward has a perfect conversion rate from the spot in the Champions League, netting six out of six to date.
Who Has Scored the Most Penalties?
Positions are reversed when it comes to the player who has scored most often from the spot. Cristiano Ronaldo has converted 19 to Messi’s 18 during his Champions League career. Again, Lewandowski features highly with 16 and it’s also notable that he has only missed once from the spot in the competition.
Who Has Missed the Most Penalties?
Despite being a supremely talented striker, Thierry Henry had his fair share of issues from the penalty spot. Famously, he and Robert Pires fluffed an elaborate attempt to pass from one to the other in a Premier League match, but he also had his difficulties in the Champions League. In an era when Arsenal often struggled to bring their scintillating domestic form onto the European stage, Henry failed to score five of his eight Champions League penalties.
Messi has also missed five but from a far greater number taken (23) compared to Henry. Sergio Agüero failed to convert four of his 15, more evidence that even the best finishers can come up short from the spot.
Another former Atlético Madrid star, Radamel Falcao, scored 15 out of 16 penalties in La Liga but gets a negative nod here for having taken the most Champions League spot kicks of any player never to have scored one. The Colombian was unsuccessful with all three of his attempts from the spot.
Who Has Saved the Most Penalties?
Many of the game’s great goalkeepers have plied their trade in the Champions League over the years, but it’s one of the unsung shot stoppers who tops the list for penalty saves. Andrii Pyatov of Shakhtar Donetsk has saved five spot kicks, but that is partly driven by the fact he has faced 17 down the years.
Only Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas has faced up to more penalties, and while four didn’t result in goals, the Spaniard only saved two, with the other pair missing the target.
Behind Pyatov, more renowned keepers such as Gianluigi Buffon and Grégory Coupet appear, along with Joe Hart, who has saved four of the eight penalties he’s faced. At 31 years old, Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen may fancy his chances of going level with and perhaps even beyond Pyatov by the end of his career, having saved four from 11 faced.
Special mention in this category goes to Diogo Costa of Porto, who has faced three penalties in the Champions League and saved them all.
Three goalkeepers have managed two penalty saves in the same match. Buffon was the first to achieve it for Parma against Borussia Dortmund in 1997, unusual for the fact that both spot kicks were conceded by Fabio Cannavaro for fouls on Andreas Möller. Stéphane Chapuisat was unsuccessful with the first and Möller himself missed the second. Hans-Jörg Butt, perhaps more famous for scoring three penalties in his Champions League career (more on that later), also saved two for Bayern Munich against Bordeaux in 2009.
And finally, in 2013 Silvio Proto had a very eventful game for Anderlecht against Olympiacos. The Belgian saved two penalties in a 3-1 defeat to the Greek side, but after having made those two saves, he got himself a red card (their third dismissal of the evening) for giving away a third spot kick in the game. Aleksandar Mitrović replaced Proto in goal for the stoppage-time penalty but couldn’t emulate his goalkeeper as Alejandro Domínguez netted Olympiacos’ third.
Who Has Won the Most Penalties?
There are some players who just seem to get fouled more often than others. Whether it’s their ability being too much for a defender to handle, or perhaps inviting a foul and making sure the referee knows there was contact — we’re not here to judge.
The list of those who have won the most penalties is obviously full of forwards, and Lionel Messi (13) sits far ahead of his nearest rivals after going past Ruud van Nistelrooij (9), who was at the top of this ranking from 2002 until 2020.
Messi has won three of his penalties against Manchester City, a record against one single opponent and only matched by Karim Adeyemi, who has won three against Sevilla across games with Borussia Dortmund and Salzburg.
Who Has Conceded the Most Penalties?
At the other end of the pitch come the players who are potentially a bit clumsy, a little over aggressive or just overzealous, resulting in them giving away penalties. Perhaps unsurprisingly, former Real Madrid enforcer Pepe — now at Porto — has conceded the most spot-kicks in the history of the Champions League. The Portuguese centre-back went clear of several other players with his fifth penalty concession when he fouled Raheem Sterling (the Premier League record holder for penalties won) at the Etihad Stadium against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the 2020-21 group stage while playing for Porto. The other four spot kicks he gave away came when turning out for Real Madrid.
Another player who conceded multiple penalties while playing for Madrid has recently lifted himself into the group just behind Pepe; Casemiro. The Brazilian — who already had three to his name for Madrid — gifted a penalty to Galatasaray in their 3-2 win at Manchester United on Matchday 2 of the 2023-24 campaign, bringing down Dries Mertens to earn a red card after André Onana’s hospital pass. Mauro Icardi sent the resulting penalty wide, however.
Our Favourite Fact
Although this is fairly well known among football fans, our favourite fact about penalties in the Champions League is that goalkeeper Hans-Jörg Butt has stepped up to score three of them, all against Juventus, but for three different teams. His first came for Hamburg in September 2000, before he also netted for Bayer Leverkusen in March 2002 and for Bayern Munich in December 2009. He actually took four penalties in total in the competition, but missed one in September 2001 against Barcelona when he put the ball wide.