Football Features

The ‘unholy’ trinity: Premier League players with a hat-trick of face palms

By Ben Green

Published: 15:28, 5 February 2021

They say good things come in threes.

Buses always come in threes after a 45-minute wait for one; strikers came in threes for West Ham in January 2010, but those were infamous flops Mido, Benni McCarthy and Ilan; and managers tend to come in threes during a standard Watford season.

Generally speaking, though, the connotations attached to the number usually carry a positive note in football: Real Madrid’s recent Champions League three-peat, Man Utd’s 1999 treble winners, Paolo Maldini’s immortalised AC Milan shirt, and any given hat-trick.

But, for some the No. 3 is a poisoned chalice. Jan Bednarek recently became the first Premier League player to be sent off, concede a penalty and score an own goal in a single match during that recent 9-0 capitulation at Old Trafford. A hat-trick of unmitigated face palms (although the red card was later rescinded).

However, he is not alone in producing a ‘disasterclass’ that will live long in Premier League memory. There are some who, before Bednarek, produced a hat-trick of clangers in one single game. But who are they?

Jan Bednarek

Match: Man Utd 9-0 Southampton (02/02/21)

Hapless hat-trick: Own goal 34′, penalty conceded 86′, red card 86′

It was a chastening experience for Bednarek at Old Trafford, who has been an otherwise stubborn centre-back for the Saints this season, but even he was powerless as Man Utd swarmed forward in cyclical waves after the visitors found themselves a man down in the opening exchanges.

Positives are hard to find in this one, I was hoping Bednarek was on the bench in the Leicester thumping last season, to give him at least a token consolation, but alas, he was also on the pitch that day. At least he lasted the full 90, or perhaps an early exit would have the preferred choice – even if his red card has since been rescinded.

Can’t be much fun defending a cricket score. I wonder who will dish out the 9-0 scoreline against the Saints next season.

Jonathan Walters

Match: Stoke 0-4 Chelsea (12/01/13)

Hapless hat-trick: Own goal 45+2′, own goal 62′, missed penalty 89′

Scoring goals should be any forward’s bread and butter, but Walters took the notion a bit too far during this encounter with Chelsea. He hit the onion bag past a wide-eyed Asmir Begovic twice, completing his own-goal brace either side of half-time, and couldn’t even save face in the closing minutes when the Potters were awarded a penalty.

Compiling the misery on a debilitating afternoon against Rafa Benitez’s Blues, Walters squandered the spot kick to complete one of the worst individual performances in Premier League history.

David Luiz

Match: Man City 3-0 Arsenal (17/06/20)

Hapless hat-trick: Error leading to goal 45+1′, penalty conceded 49′, red card 49′

The master-versus-student narrative took a back seat the minute David Luiz entered the fray here. Pablo Mari became the second casualty in the early stages of this showdown in the North West, coming off injured in the 24th minute to join Granit Xhaka in the Etihad infirmary, and Luiz took his place.

What unfolded next was a ‘disasterclass’ of the highest order, with the Brazilian first mistiming a collector’s item ‘poor pass’ from Kevin De Bruyne, in which Raheem Sterling duly capitalised on, before conceding a penalty and a red card shortly after the restart.

The blunders came either side of the interval, but in game time, this was a four-minute brain fart. And even by his mercurial standards, that is exceptional.

Carl Jenkinson

Match: West Ham 3-4 Bournemouth (22/08/15)

Hapless hat-trick: Error leading to goal 66′, penalty conceded 79′, red card 79′

Aaron Cresswell started this match with two major clangers and he looked destined for the dunce’s cap, but Jenkinson, like a true bro, spared his mate’s blushes (somewhat) by putting the spotlight on himself.

This was very much a ‘hold my beer’ moment for Jenkinson, who topped Cresswell by first allowing Marc Pugh to epically skin him for Bournemouth’s third, before pulling down Max Gradel to concede a penalty and see red moments later.

On a brighter note, that penalty allowed Callum Wilson to complete his ‘real’ hat-trick, while Cresswell managed to bag himself an assist.


Match: Burnley 3-0 West Ham (19/11/19)

Hapless hat-trick: Error leading to shot 9′, error leading to goal 44′, own goal 54′

This is a game that has gone down in West Ham lore for all the wrong reasons, and really did sum up Roberto’s calamitous stint between the sticks for the club. Responsible for all three Burnley goals, this was as comical a performances from a ‘keeper as you’re ever likely to see. We’re talking Massimo Taibi levels here.

First he opted to punch an unthreatened Dwight McNeil cross, which went straight to Phil Bardsley who struck and won his side a corner from which, of course, they scored. Then he carelessly threw the ball to an unexpected Fabian Balbuena, who was dispossessed by McNeil and Chris Wood made it two from the subsequent cross.

And then the crowning moment. As a corner came in after the restart, Roberto once again tried to punch clear, only this time, he punched it straight into his net. Luckily for West Ham fans he played just twice more before leaving east London.


Match: Man Utd 2-0 Man City (08/03/20)

Hapless hat-trick: Error leading to goal 30′, error leading to shot 49′, error leading to goal 90+5′

This was just a bad day at the office for City’s otherwise imperious shot-stopper. The Brazilian first allowed a tame Anthony Martial effort to trickle under his arms, and he nearly gifted the Frenchman a second just after the restart, fumbling a routine pass back from Joao Cancelo which allowed the Man Utd forward to rush in and shoot. And just to top it off, his wayward throw in the closing seconds allowed Scott McTominay to strike from range into an open net.

Leandro Trossard

Match: Brighton 2-3 Man Utd (26/09/20)

Hapless hat-trick: Hit the woodwork 9′, hit the woodwork 21′, hit the woodwork 76′

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this is the unluckiest defeat in Premier League history. Not only did Brighton hit the woodwork four times, but they also conceded a penalty after the final whistle had already been blown. Responsible for three of those hitting either the post or the bar was Trossard, who just couldn’t buy a goal.

Marcos Rojo

Match: Man Utd 2-2 Arsenal (05/12/18)

Hapless hat-trick: Error leading to goal 68′, own goal 68′, yellow card-subbed off hybrid 38′ 72′

If you ever wanted a perfect example of Jose Mourinho’s utter ruthless streak then this is it, benching Rojo the following game after this collection of clangers against Arsenal. The Gunners’ second goal was so comical that Rojo was actually awarded an error leading to a goal and an own goal.

First, he gave away possession with a loose pass, before trying to make amends and chasing down Alexandre Lacazette who was bearing down on goal. In an effort to make a last-ditch tackle, he directed the ball past David de Gea himself. And just to complete this performances, he was also booked and hooked.

Tiemoue Bakayoko

Match: Newcastle 3-0 Chelsea (13/05/18)

Hapless hat-trick: Error leading to shot 20′, error leading to goal 59′, the only booking of the game 62′

The warning signs that this would be a comprehensive rout for Benitez’s Magpies came as early as the 20th minute. With Thibaut Courtois having already been tested, Bakayoko was far too casual in possession and allowed Mohamed Diame to muscle him off the ball before glancing inches wide.

Anyone would have thought that this would have roused Bakayoko and woken him up, but he maintained that catatonic state throughout the match. Newcastle’s second would have particularly irked the travelling Chelsea fans as his half-hearted clearance fell straight into the path of Jonjo Shelvey, who uncorked a low-drive past Courtois.

And to really make the journey back down to London all the more frustrating for Chelsea, he capped the occasion with the only booking of the game.

Fabian Delph

Match: Watford 2-3 Everton (01/02/20)

Hapless hat-trick: Error leading to goal 42′, first yellow card 58′, second yellow card 71′

Having aided Watford in taking a 2-0 lead at Vicarage Road after his mistimed pass sent Tory Deeney away, who set up Roberto Pereyra, Delph decided the relegation-threatened side needed another boost, giving them a numerical advantage with two reckless challenges in the second half.

And even then Watford couldn’t win!

Gareth McAuley

Match: Tottenham 4-0 West Brom (14/01/17)

Hapless hat-trick: Own goal 26′, one of only two yellow cards 70′, error leading to goal 77′

A Harry Kane hat-trick was the headline, but there is a footnote detailing McAuley’s woeful display in the capital. An own goal in the 26th minute, in which his attempted block looped over Ben Foster, was just the start of forgetful afternoon. He was soon bundled off the ball by Kyle Walker, who set up Kane for his second, and he rounded off the game with a booking, one of only two players to see yellow, alongside centre-back partner Jonas Olsson.