Choosing the greatest football games ever is as complex as choosing England’s most beautiful jewels. Consequently, an exercise that is basically subjective limits esthetics, by definition. Nevertheless, my ranks have still been determined by certain objective factors.
The regulations are simple:
1) Competitive balance: no one-sided businesses or blow-outs. Both opposing teams should match equally, and the contest itself should be extremely contentious.
2)The bigger the stake, the more remarkable the success. It’s the most useful characteristic for sports and football that can perform effectively when it’s essential.
3) Quality of play: clean, inventive, accurate gameplay and a constant rhythm, minimum flash, and botched play should highlight the game.
4) Drama: Just like an exciting film, the game should be rivaling enough to transmit a casual fan from profound sadness to perfect joy into the emotional trip of a roller coaster.
5) 5) Star power and cleverness: What a fantastic film with no big cast?
2008-09 UEFA CL 2nd Leg, Liverpool 4-4 Chelsea
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Blues and Reds have seen each other 24 times throughout the five years that led up to this match, with most encounters ending up in extremely defensive stalemates, particularly when Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and Rafael Benitez at Liverpool.
Chelsea enjoyed a comfortable 3-1 advantage in Anfield’s first leg. Liverpool had to progress with a margin of three goals. When Fabio Aurelio stunned Cech on a 35-yard free-kick, they took the first step in the correct manner. When he extended the advantage at the 28th minute, Xabi Alonso pushed them even closer to the ideal results.
After the interval, Chelsea scored by Drogba and Alex twice in six minutes (51st and 57th). Then, through Lampard, superbly supported by Drogba, the Blues would take the lead.
But Liverpool’s two goals (81st and 83rd minutes), Lucas and Kuyt, got back on top and started dreaming of a new goal again. Lampard broke the Reds’ optimism that they would complete a brace and add a 7–5 edge to the men’s Avram Grant for a semifinal lead.
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2001 UEFA Cup Final, Liverpool 5-4 Alaves
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This goal festival took place in Dortmund in 2001 before the Istanbul Miracle. For the first time since the Heysel tragic event, Liverpool returned to the European Cup Final.
The Reds immediately seized control of the Spanish minnows with Markus Babbel’s header. Then, some minutes after a wonderful pass by Micheal Owen, they increased their advantage when a youthful Steven Gerrard left the goalie unable.
Ivan Alonso pulled one back for Alaves just before the 30-minute mark. The men of Gerard Houllier had assumed that a three-to-one penalty had shattered the tenacity of their adversaries before the half-time lead by Scottish veteran Gary McAllister.
Unbeatable, Javi Moreno rallied straight after the interval to equalize the scoring behind the brace. In the 76th minute, Robbie Fowler put them back in the front in Red’s folklore, and the last minute of the regulation was equaled by Jordi Cruyff (Johan’s son). In extra time, Liverpool ultimately won on Defi Geli’s own goal of a three-time FA Cup, Football League Cup, and UEFA Cup.
Euro 2000 SF, France 2-1 Portugal
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Zinedine Zidane and Luiz Figo, the two finest European players of their age, played it for a position in the finals versus Italy.
In the first half, Portugal took the lead through a precise shot by Nuno Gomes. Thierry Henry, well-served by Nicolas Anelka, equalized France in the second act.
The unrivaled quality of Zidane is what emerges from this hotly contested quarterfinal. The French master had a spectacular performance in The Habs, putting to rest all of the residual doubts that he was truly his generation’s most significant European player.
Only appropriate is it when the game concluded with the shooting of Zidane, who was in the last seconds of extra time to send France to the final, by Portugal’s keeper Vitor Baia.