The 90th minute. It’s just a measure of time, but for soccer fans there is so much meaning to it. It means using your last bit of energy to win. No matter how tired you are, how much you are hurting, you put your body on the line to win.
Long time fans have surely seen their team score a stoppage time winner. But they have also felt the despair of conceding in stoppage time to lose the game. But that’s what makes this sport so special.
When people discuss great matches, a common denominator is a goal scored in stoppage time. So, today I will give my top five late, dramatic goals. Because who doesn’t love a bit of drama?
5: Didier Drogba vs. Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League Final
A match that had more than a trophy on the line. For Chelsea, if they failed to win that meant they didn’t get to play in the Champions League the next season as they finished 6th in the Premier League.
The game was at the Allianz Arena, home to Chelsea’s opponent Bayern Munich. Keep in mind, not only does this give Bayern the home-field advantage, but they were a very strong team and were predicted by many to roll over Chelsea. Chelsea didn’t have their captain John Terry, Ramires, and Ryan Bertrand made his Champions League debut in that game.
Chelsea’s road to Munich definitely had its share of drama. They had to come back from being 3-1 down on aggregate, and also had to defeat giants Barcelona to get to the finals.
The game was 0-0 and Bayern were dominating. If it weren’t for Petr Cech, Bayern could have been up 3-0 or even more. But finally, the Bavarians struck first as Thomas Muller headed in a goal in the 83rd minute to make it 1-0 to the home side. Things did not look good for Chelsea.
But in the 88th minute, Fernando Torres won a corner for the Blues. Juan Mata took the corner and met the rising head of Didier Drogba, which sent the ball past Manuel Neuer and had tied the game up.
The Blues went on to win in penalties, and many say if they didn’t win that game that Chelsea would have been able to sign the world class players they have today due to not making the Champions League.
You can watch the video of his goal here. Apologies for subpar video quality, but the commentator’s reaction was priceless.
4: Steven Gerrard vs. Olympiacos in the 2004/2005 Champions League
As the Reds struggled in the Premier League, everybody knew that remaining in the Champions League was paramount. However, when Liverpool headed into their final match of the group stage, it was all or nothing.
On a famous European night in Anfield, fans packed the stadium in hopes that their team would win and therefore advance to the knockout stages of the Champions League. Their opponents, Olympiacos, came to town with the idea that they were going to spoil the party and have them advance instead.
As the game winded down, Liverpool lead 2-1. But Olympiacos were pressing the Reds’ defense, and an equalizer wasn’t too far out of sight.
Until the Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard did what he does, and blasted a shot from outside the box into the back of the net and sent Liverpool to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Now, what makes this goal important? If Olympiacos were to equalize, it meant Liverpool finished third and therefore didn’t advance. But, since Gerrard scored that goal, the Reds advanced not only to the knockout stages, but ended up playing the 2005 Champions League final. In that game, they faced AC Milan, and Rafa Benitez’s side came back from a 3-0 deficit to win in penalties.
Gerrard’s Goal can be seen here.
3: David Beckham vs. Greece in the 2002 World Cup Qualifiers
Most people have heard the term “Bend it like Beckham”. Well, this goal inspired that phrase.
England were on the brink of having to play in a play-off to determine whether or not they’d be going to the 2002 World Cup tournament.
The Three Lions faced Greece, and needed to win or draw in order to finish above Germany and automatically qualify.
It was 2-1 to the Greeks, and Old Trafford grew nervous. Could England lose in the playoff? Could one of the worlds’ biggest teams not go to the World Cup? Who would they get drawn to play?
David Beckham ended all those questions.
England won a free kick not too far outside of the box. Beckham, who had missed a few free kicks that game, stood watching the ball and waited for the ref to blow his whistle.
The whistle blew, Beckham ran up, and curled it into the top left corner. The draw meant they finished above Germany on goal difference, and therefore automatically qualified for the 2002 World Cup.
2: Sergio Aguero vs. QPR in 2012
Manchester City were going through a 44 year title drought. It wasn’t until they were bought by Abu Dhabi United group that they shot up the table and found themselves at a standard of being a top team.
It was four years after they had been bought, but in 2012 the Citizens had it all to play for on the final day of the 2011/2012 Premier League season.
On the final day, two teams were on top of the table, level on points: Manchester City and Manchester United. United’s final game was Sunderland away, while City were home to relegation candidates QPR. Seems like an easy game for City to win the league, right?
All Manchester City needed to do was get an equal or better result than rivals Manchester United.
Manchester United won their match 1-0, which meant City were in deep trouble. They found themselves down 2-1 going into stoppage time, and what seemed to be a day full of glory turned out to be a day where fans saw an epic collapse.
Or so they thought.
In the 92nd minute, Bosnian Edin Dzeko scored a goal which leveled things at the Etihad Stadium. Two minutes later, the stadium erupted as Sergio Aguero blasted the ball into the net and won Manchester City the title.
Watch Aguero’s title-winning goal here.
Now before we get to the number one (which was really hard to determine), I’d like to put some honorable mentions. Gunnar Solskjaer vs. Bayern Munich, Troy Deeney vs. Leicester City, Sergio Ramos vs. Atletico Madrid, Abby Wambach vs. Brazil, Iniesta vs. Chelsea, and Nemanja Kojic vs. Red Star Belgrade.
1: Andres Iniesta vs. Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup Final
In the first ever World Cup held in the continent of Africa, two teams that have never won a World Cup met in the final. Spain, who had won the 2008 European Championships, and the Netherlands, faced off in Johannesburg.
The game was 0-0 after 90 minutes, which meant extra time was needed.
As the clock ticked, it seemed the final was going to a penalty shootout. For the Spaniards and the Dutch, it would only add to the nervousness.
Luckily for the Spaniards, that nervous feeling turned into euphoria.
In the 116th minute, after the Netherlands had squandered many chances, Andres Iniesta punished them and made it 1-0 to Spain. The Dutch would not answer, and Spain had won their first ever World Cup.
Many people dread stoppage time as it kicks it up a notch in terms of nervousness. Every long-time fan will experience the joy and heartbreak of stoppage time. But that’s what makes soccer so great. Its greatest moments are found after an exciting game, which many did not want to end.
I write about the beautiful game. From the smallest islands to the biggest teams, it all will be covered.