To celebrate Pinnacle’s 20th anniversary this series will look back over the biggest moments from our most popular sports. These are the top 10 moments from the last 20 years of the soccer
Manchester United complete the treble
The 1998/99 soccer season for Manchester United was the greatest in the club’s history as they became the first English side to complete the treble by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League all in the same season.
The Red Devils’ incredible campaign culminated in a thrilling Champions League final against Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou in Barcelona. After going behind thanks to a Mario Basler goal six minutes into the game, Manchester United not only equalised in the third minute of injury time but also managed to snatch the game in the final seconds via Ole Gunnar Solskajer.
Zidane’s iconic Champions League volley
Real Madrid defeated Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at Hampden Park to claim the 2002 Champions League and the game-winning goal from that match has become one of the most iconic in soccer history.
Many believe Zidane’s effort is the greatest goal ever scored in a Champions League final (although Gareth Bale’s bicycle kick in the 2018 final provides stiff competition). It’s a goal that’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing on the eye with Zidane using all of his technical ability to strike the ball so cleanly, after hanging in the air for so long, into the top corner.
Arsenal’s Invincible season
Not since Preston North End in the 1888/89 season had a team gone an entire league campaign without a defeat, an achievement that the Arsenal team in 2003/04 managed to accomplish.
They played 38 games, won 26, drew 12 and lost zero and were subsequently nicknamed ‘the invincibles’. That Arsenal side has gone down as one of the greatest teams assembled in Premier League history having gone 49 league games in total without defeat before finally suffering a loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The miracle in Istanbul
Perhaps the most dramatic Champions League final in recent history, Liverpool mounted an incredible comeback from 3-0 down at halftime to level the game 3-3 in the second half and eventually win the game.
After a first half onslaught from the Rossoneri with a goal from Paolo Maldini and a brace by Hernan Crespo, the Reds scored three goals in six minutes of the second half to complete one of the greatest comebacks in soccer history.
Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek was the hero for the red half of Merseyside as he made crucial saves throughout the game and saved the decisive penalty from Andriy Shevchenko to seal a fifth Champions League for Liverpool.
Barcelona’s dominance in 2008/09
The 2008/09 season was one of the greatest in the history of FC Barcelona and one of the most successful seasons for any soccer club ever as they managed to win all six competitions that they were involved in – a feat that has yet to be repeated.
Over the course of the 2008/09, Barcelona won the Supercopa de España, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Copa del Rey, La Liga, and the UEFA Champions League. In one of Barcelona’s most impressive displays, they comfortably beat their greatest rivals Real Madrid 6-2 playing away in El Classico.
Arguably the greatest moment in Premier League history and the most dramatic finish to a league season, Manchester City clinched the title thanks to two injury time goals, with the winner being the ionic strike from Argentine Sergio Aguero. The English commentary (from Martin Tyler) is now synonymous with this iconic moment.
The Citizens needed to win the game to guarantee the title and depending on their rivals Manchester United’s result, it would likely go down to goal difference. With second-placed Manchester United winning their game against Sunderland 1-0, the onus was all on City to win their game. They actually fell behind 2-1 against QPR (who themselves were fighting against relegation) but an Edin Dzeko header levelled the game on 91 minutes before Aguero struck late on to spark the wild celebrations.
Watford’s dramatic play-off semi-final win
Another one of our top moments features a dramatic ending to a soccer match. Watford played Leicester over two legs in the 2012/13 English Championship play-off semi-final with both teams dreaming of making it to the Premier League.
With Watford leading 2-1 on the day and the scores tied at 2-2 on aggregate, Leicester’s Anthony Knockhaert had the chance to win the tie from the penalty spot in the last seconds of the match. However, Watford keeper Manuel Almunia made a terrific double save to deny the Frenchman and from the resulting clearance, the Hornets counter attacked and scored with the final kick off the game via a Troy Deeney.
This moment all happened within the space of 30 seconds from the penalty miss to the Deeney winner and justifiably sparked incredible jubilation amongst the home support as they invaded the pitch. Watford would actually go onto lose the Championship play-off final against Crystal Palace, but this moment will go down as one of the best endings to a soccer match ever.
Real Madrid’s La Decima
Since Zidane’s iconic volley to win the Champions League in 2002, Real Madrid had to wait 12 years to claim their tenth European Cup or “La Decima” (The Tenth). They were up against city rivals Atletico Madrid in the 2013/14 Champions League final with their local rivals having already won La Liga a few weeks earlier.
It was Atletico who took the lead in the 36th minute via captain Diego Godin header and led for the majority of the game before Real dramatically equalised in the third minute of injury time through their captain Sergio Ramos. Goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty sealed the victory for Real Madrid in extra-time and they have gone on to win the Champions League three times since.
Leicester’s incredible 2015/16 season
Leicester City, who narrowly avoided relegation in the 2014/15 season, overcame incredible odds to shock the soccer world and win the Premier League in 2015/16 in what will go down as one of the biggest shocks in soccer history.
Famously priced by some bookmakers at a remarkable 5000.00 at the start of the season, Leicester’s odds dramatically tumbled to 1.65 by April in what was being labelled as one of the biggest underdog victories in sporting history. Masterminded by ‘The Tinkerman’ Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes relied heavily on ball winning midfielder N’Golo Kante, Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy and player of the season Riyad Mahrez to fire them to the summit of English soccer.
PSG’s collapse at the Nou Camp
Having been put to the sword by PSG in the first leg of their 2016/17 Champions League Round of 16 tie, Barcelona trailed 4-0 on aggregate and faced the impossible task of overturning a four goal deficit to make it to the quarter-finals.
Against all the odds (and an extra Edinson Cavani away goal to make the deficit even more difficult), Barcelona pulled off the largest comeback in Champions League history by winning the game 6-1 and the tie 6-5 on aggregate in front over over 96,000 fans in attendance. After two goals from Neymar in the 88th and 91st minute, it was Sergi Roberto’s 95th minute strike that sealed the dramatic win.
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