Late drama in sport can cause tingling sensations
LEAVING things until the last minute is never a good idea; whether it be tax returns, writing this column or going to the toilet.
Generally, the earlier the better. But not with sport. There is something beautiful and unrivalled about late drama in sport. Wicklow’s outstanding eleventh hour rescue operation against Tipperary on Sunday is the perfect example. You go from emptiness to euphoria with the kick of a ball.
Football has produced umpteen tales of triumph so I’ve done what I do best and racked my brain and hit the Google machine to conjure up a list of the top ten footballing comebacks.
10: Carlisle United v Plymouth Argyle: Carlisle go into the final day of the 1998/99 season needing to beat Plymouth to avoid dropping out of the Football League after 71 years there. With the score tied at 1-1, they’re awarded a 95 th minute corner kick and goalkeeper Jimmy Glass popped up to score what was unsurprisingly, the biggest goal of his career. He retired at 27 though after continuing to drop down the ranks.
9: Bray Wanderers 1, Monaghan United 1: Having drawn 0-0 in the first leg of this promotion/relegation play-off, it went all the way to the 118th minute of the second leg before we finally saw a goal. A strike from Monaghan midfielder Dom Tierney was deflected into his own net by Chris Shields. Celebrating Monaghan fans collapsed a wall and when order was finally restored, Wanderers found the most unlikely equaliser to force penalties where the earlier villain, Shields, dispatched the winning spot kick.
8: Juventus 2, Manchester United 3: On their way to Champions League glory in 1999, the Red Devils came up against the Old Lady. A 1-1 draw at Old Trafford left this tie on a knife edge but two goals inside the opening 11 minutes in Turin by Pippo Inzhagi left United reeling.
Worse was to come as skipper Roy Keane was booked, meaning if United did make the final, he would have to sit it out. This inspired the Corkman to a superhuman performance though and his header kick-started an historic recovery which was completed by Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.
7: Middlesbrough 4, Basel 1: Trailing 20 from the first leg, Middlesbrough’s massive task sprouted wings as Eduardo tapped home midway through the first half.
Mark Viduka (what a man) offered hope before half time and he grabbed a second to really put the shits up their Swiss opponents.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink sank a screamer to set up a tense finale, and Massimo Maccarone made himself a folklore hero as he struck a 90th minute winner.
(6.5): That stunning performance from ‘Boro set up a semi-final against Steaua Bucharest. Bucharest had a 0-3 aggregate lead at the Riverside, meaning the hosts needed another four-goal salvation job.
Maccarone got the comeback underway, Viduka’s header made home fans dream, Chris Riggot made them wideeyed with the third and Maccarone repeated his heroics as he stole an 89th minute winner to send ‘Boro to the final. Unfortunately, that ended in a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Sevilla.
6: Tottenham Hotspur 3, Manchester United 5: In the early noughties, Spurs were an inconsistent side that rarely troubled the big teams. Much has changed so. On this particular day, Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege had all managed to find the net in a frantic first half at White Hart Lane to give the hosts a 3-0 lead at the break.
As they have annoyingly perfected over the last decade though, United conjured up a minor miracle to storm back in the second half and win.
Andy Cole, Laurent Blanc, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron (he was a dodgy looking chap) and Golden Balls himself all struck to break Spurs hearts.
5: Angola 4, Mali 4: Oh yes, the one you’ve all been waiting for. The African Cup of Nations can provide some belting ties and this one will take some beating. Angola lead 4-0 with 11 minutes to play and were dancing some very smooth jigs of delight. But the rug was pulled from under their feet quite quickly.
Seydou Keita seemed to have restored pride as he made it 4-1. Former Spurs man Freddy Kanoute headed in a second but the Malians were two goals short going into injury time. But the drama didn’t end there (hence why it made the list). Keita caused delirium when he reduced the deficit to a single goal and then Mustapha Yatabare (of En Avant de Guingamp ‘fame’) completed the most hectic comeback ever seen on BBC3 (African Cup of Nations isn’t mainstream enough for the big boys, apparently).
4: Manchester City 3, QPR 2: One word; Aguerooooooo! Martin Tyler will be immortalised by his giddy commentary on this mind-blowing Premier League finale.
City just needed to dispose of little old QPR to scoop their first top flight crown in 44 years. Pablo Zabaleta set them on their way before half time.
Djibril Cisse stunned City and handed the advantage to City’s rivals with an equaliser, before a Jamie Mackie effort hands the lead to ten-man QPR.
United fans were already celebrating their 20th Premier League crown when Edin Dzeko netted in the 92nd minute but those celebrations were hilariously cut short (Phil Jones’ face gets me every time) as Sergio Aguero drilled home in the 95th minute. I will admit, hearing “Aguerooooo” that first time made my penis tingle a bit, and I’m a Liverpool fan.
3: Newcastle United 4, Arsenal 4: There’s something quietly pleasing about seeing Arsenal fail. This match proved even more giving than usual; the Gunners raced into a 0-4 lead thanks to goals from Theo Walcott, Djourou and Robin Van Persie (2).
On 68 minutes, Johnny Do-Gooder Joey Barton netted from the penalty spot to make it 1-4. Irish international Leon Best added another 15 minutes from time before Barton struck again from 12 yards with seven minutes left.
It almost seemed inevitable that when the ball broke to Cheik Tiote on the edge of the area, his blast from distance would find the net and it did. Sensational stuff. Does anyone else think Tiote looks a bit like a turnip?
2: Manchester United 2, Bayern Munich 1. Yeah, whatever.
1: Liverpool 3, AC Milan 3: Is it any surprise? 3-0 down to an AC Milan team riddled with quality, a Liverpool side featuring Djimi Traore cancelled the Italian side’s lead in a manic six minute. It was such an outstanding night, mammy Gorman let me stay up for an extra hour before bed.