Unexpected losses. Epic penalty shootouts. Surprise relegations. Classic goals.
This weekend truly had it all. As Premier League title-chasers Chelsea and mid-table strugglers Manchester United slumped to defeats, their plight was put into perspective by that of Brazilian champions Fluminense, whose time in the top flight came to an end.
Elsewhere, Sporting Kansas used their penalty wizardry to secure the MLS Cup, Ronaldinho came back from injury in style and Ajax recreated one of the greatest goals of all time...
After losing to Everton at Old Trafford midweek, Manchester Utd fans hoped David Moyes' side would bounce back with the arrival of Newcastle on Saturday, a club that hadn't claimed a league victory at the venue since 1972. It was not to be.
Yohan Cabaye's 61st-minute strike made the difference in a valiant Magpies performance against a Utd that appears more cautious and less geared toward attacking prowess than a Sir Alex Ferguson team. Last season, Manchester Utd would have been fighting like dogs and applying tremendous pressure as "Fergie Time" approached, but there was no such urgency on display this weekend.
The Red Devils now find themselves 13 points behind Arsenal in the title race—a race which they are surely no longer a part of—and seven points away from a top-four spot.
According to The Guardian's Jamie Jackson, Moyes opted not to blame his players, explaining that it is up to him to encourage better performances going forward.
When Sergio Aguero opened the scoring at St. Mary's after 10 minutes on Saturday—his 11th strike in 10 Premier League games—Manchester City looked set to romp to a rare away victory. However, the Citizens left the South Coast with just a point thanks to a stunning equaliser from Dani Osvaldo.
In the 42nd minute, the Italian showed superb control on the edge of the area, before firing of a right-footed shot that no keeper in the world could have reached, let alone the tallest player in the Premier League (Costel Pantilimon).
A true goal of the season contender and a point well-earned for an injury-ravaged Saints team.
The last time Roberto Martinez visited the Emirates, his Wigan side was relegated. On Sunday, he oversaw an Everton side that denied Arsenal a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 1-1 draw.
One of the best moments of a highly entertaining match was the rousing 84th-minute strike from 19-year-old Gerard Deulofeu, which cancelled out Mesut Ozil's close-range finish four minutes earlier.
Martinez described the Barcelona loan star as a "jewel of Spanish football" (via the BBC) when he first arrived on Merseyside, and he is certainly living up to his reputation.
Olivier Giroud had several chances to put the Gunners ahead with one-on-one situations with goalkeeper Tim Howard, and he nearly won the match with a superb strike that hit the bar in the dying seconds.
Chelsea threw away a 1-0 lead at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday after failing to convert a host of chances in a match that ended 3-2 to Stoke after a brilliant 90th-minute winner from Oussama Assaidi.
The Blues have now conceded seven goals in their last three games (against Stoke, Sunderland and Southampton), having fallen behind in each of them. After the match, Jose Mourinho told the BBC that his side is "in trouble."
Bayern Munich's quest for world domination showed absolutely no signs of slowing down on Saturday when they put seven unanswered goals past former title rival Werder Bremen. The star of the show was the resplendent Franck Ribery, who scored twice and set up another.
Sadly, the extended Ballon d'Or voting period concluded too soon for consideration.
The Bavarians are now undefeated in 40 matches and enjoying a four-point cushion over closest rivals Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, are now 10 points off the pace after slumping to a 1-0 defeat to the aforementioned second-placed team.
Over in America, the MLS season concluded with the 18th edition of the MLS Cup final.
Sporting Kansas City hosted Real Salt Lake on a bitter cold afternoon (the mercury plummeted to minus-13 degrees with wind chill in the second half) in a match that finished 1-1 after 120 minutes.
An epic penalty shootout ensued, which reached ten rounds until RSL's Jamaican defender Lovel Palmer hit the bar with the 20th spot kick to eliminate the Utah side.
The best moment of the match was undoubtedly the sublime no-look pass that Kyle Beckerman produced to set up the Salt Lake opener.
What a difference a year makes.
Fluminense won the 2012 Brasileirao by a margin of five points. On Sunday, they became the first Brazilian champion to be relegated, despite recording a 2-1 win at Bahia. Captain and national team striker Fred, watching from the stands, was moved to tears.
Coritiba's 1-0 win against Sao Paulo ensured that Flu dropped to Serie B on goal difference. Vasco da Gama were also unable to avoid relegation, but their final-day defeat against Atletico Paranaense was marred by horrific crowd violence that saw one seriously injured man airlifted out of the ground by helicopter (as per a report from ESPN).
It wasn't all doom and gloom on Brazil's final day. Atleitco Mineiro denied Vitoria a top-four finish (and a Copa Libertadores place) with a thrilling 2-2 encounter in Belo Horizonte.
The Galo came back from a two-goal deficit, with the fight back started by a wonderful free kick from Ronaldinho just before half-time. The former Barcelona legend went on to equalise in the 89th minute from 12 yards, which is an impressive contribution in what was his first match since September.
Remember Dennis Bergkamp's unbelievably good touch and finish for the Netherlands against Argentina at France 98? This writer almost wore out his VHS copy of the goal watching it on repeat.
Ajax midfielder Davy Klaassen indirectly paid tribute to the Amsterdammers legend with a very similar strike in their 4-0 demolition of NAC on Saturday.
The 20-year-old was fed a long ball from defender Niklas Moisander, which he controlled with one touch and calmly slotted past the keeper.
Klaassen scored a hat-trick in the victory that keeps Ajax in second place in the Eredivise, two points behind Vitesse Arnhem.