Ranking the 25 Most Memorable Matches of 2013

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistDecember 22, 2013

Ranking the 25 Most Memorable Matches of 2013

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    The last week alone has seen the Premier League produce two classic matches that will live on in highlights packages for years to come.

    Manchester City's clash with Arsenal last Saturday saw nine goals scored as City toppled the Gunners, whilst a day later Liverpool inflicted a stunning 5-0 defeat on Tottenham in a result which proved to be the end for Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas.

    Both are games that fans will have fresh in their minds as the year comes to a close, but which were the greatest matches and moments in 2013?

    As another classic footballing year draws to a close, here are 25 games that will live on into 2014 and beyond.

25. Bradford 3 Aston Villa 1, January 8

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    December 2012 saw then League Two side Bradford City stun Arsenal in knocking them out of the Capital One Cup quarter-finals on penalties, and they were at it again in early 2013.

    In the first leg of their semi-final against a heavily-fancied Aston Villa side who were 60 places above them in the league ladder, Bradford took the lead through forward Nakhi Wells at a delirious Valley Parade.

    Rory McArdle doubled the lead with a header, and after Villa's Andreas Weimann pulled back a goal that seemed to be crucial for the visitors, Carl McHugh's header ensured that Bradford won the first leg 3-1.

    It proved to be a crucial strike, with Villa's 2-1 second leg win not enough to prevent Bradford from going to Wembley.

24. Tahiti 1 Nigeria 6, June 17

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    Yes, so they ended up losing 6-1, 10-0 and 8-0, but tiny Tahiti stole the hearts of everyone watching this summer's Confederations Cup in Brazil, with their greatest moment coming in the defeat to Nigeria.

    The South Pacific Islanders, ranked 138th in the world and a team of part-timers, were already 3-0 down to Nigeria in Belo Horizonte when defender Jonathan Tehau rose to head home a corner and spark the kind of delirious celebrations usually reserved for World Cup victories.

    Nigeria's Nnamdi Oduamadi scored a hat-trick and Tehau later put through his own net, but there was little doubt about the moment of the game for many.

23. Watford 3 Leicester 1, May 12

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    This Championship play-off semi-final had a remarkable ending that left Leicester fans shellshocked.

    With the aggregate score poised at 2-2 and extra-time looming, the Foxes were given an injury-time penalty and a chance to get to Wembley.

    Anthony Knockaert took it, only to see Manuel Almunia save, then start an attack from which Troy Deeney buried the goal which won Watford the tie, sending Vicarage Road delirious in the process.

22. Oldham 3 Liverpool 2, January 27

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    Struggling in League One and with manager Paul Dickov on the brink of the sack, there weren't many who gave Oldham a chance to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round.

    The cup has a habit of upsetting the applecart though, and there was magic in the air once Matt Smith put the hosts into an early lead.

    Luis Suarez equalised, but Smith and then Reece Wabara gave the Latics a scarcely believable 3-1 lead either side of half-time.

    Joe Allen pulled one back for the Reds but it was Oldham's day, and they'll meet Liverpool again in the cup in January.

21. Porto 2 Benfica 1, May 11

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    Both Porto and Benfica had reached the penultimate game of Portugal's Primeira Liga season undefeated, but that penultimate game was against each other.

    Benfica led the table by two points heading to Porto, and looked as though they were going to seal the title when Rodrigo Lima gave them the lead.

    However, Silvestre Varela grabbed Porto's equaliser, before a stunning conclusion when the Brazilian Kelvin angled a low shot into the bottom corner to put the home side ahead with a goal which saw them leap above a distressed Benfica with just one game of the season remaining.

    Porto won the league the following week, whilst Benfica's last minute heartache wasn't even over. Just a few days later, Branislav Ivanovic's late header earned Chelsea the Europa League at their expense.

20. Panama 2 USA 3, October 16

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    Panama were roughly 90 seconds away from booking a place in a winnable World Cup playoff against New Zealand in October, only for two stoppage time goals from the USA to break their hearts and help out a rival.

    The US had already secured their spot in Brazil, but their young side stunned Panama City with goals from Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson (pictured) to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win.

    The victory ensured a second chance for the US's long-term rivals Mexico, who duly beat New Zealand to join the party in South America next summer.

19. Real Madrid 0 Atletico Madrid 1, September 28

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    This was supposed to be all about one man, but it ended up being about a fine team.

    World record signing Gareth Bale made his home debut for Real Madrid when he entered the Bernabeu pitch at half-time in their Madrid derby clash with Atletico in September, but by then Real were already 1-0 down to a strike from Atletico's man of the moment Diego Costa.

    Despite Bale and his team's attempts at a comeback, Costa's goal ended a 23-game winless run that Atletico had experienced against their city rivals; a result which acted as an inspiration for their fine season so far.

18. Everton 3 Liverpool 3, November 23

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    Merseyside derbies have had a habit of not living up to the hype in recent years, but this one did not disappoint.

    Philippe Coutinho and Kevin Mirallas swapped early goals at Goodison Park, before a Luis Suarez free-kick put Liverpool back in front.

    Mirallas then should have been sent off for a lunge on Suarez, but he stayed on and played a part in Romelu Lukaku's two goals which suddenly looked like winning Everton the game.

    However, just a minute remained when Daniel Sturridge headed in Steven Gerrard's free-kick to secure a share of the spoils in a classic contest.

17. Ghana 6 Eygpt 1, October 15

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    Perennial African Nations Cup contenders, October's World Cup playoff represented a final chance for plenty of Egypt's players to reach a first ever World Cup finals.

    Unfortunately for coach Bob Bradley though, things didn't exactly go to plan in Accra.

    Asamoah Gyan scored twice as Ghana hammered the Egyptians 6-1 in the first leg to all but secure their place in Brazil, with the result flooring Bradley and eventually leading to his dismissal.

16. Italy 2 Brazil 4, June 22

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    This Confederations Cup group clash in Salvador was a slow-burner, but when it got going it ended up being a terrific watch.

    Defender Dante gave hosts Brazil the lead from close range on the stroke of half-time, only for Emanuele Giaccherini to fire Italy level shortly after the break.

    Neymar quickly restored Brazil's lead with a fine free-kick, with forward Fred soon making it 3-1.

    Giorgio Chiellini reduced the deficit, only for Fred to strike again late on and secure a 4-2 success for Brazil that wrapped up top spot in Group A.

15. Tottenham 0 Liverpool 5, December 15

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    The match that did for Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham was also a stunning display of just how far Liverpool have come since the days of that Oldham loss.

    Inspired by their stand-in captain Luis Suarez, the Reds turned in arguably the performance of the season so far to win 5-0 and ensure that AVB was sacked the following day.

    Suarez scored early, and after a second from the excellent Jordan Henderson, Paulinho's red card helped the Reds establish a dominance that led to further strikes from Jon Flanagan, Suarez again and Raheem Sterling.

14. Fiorentina 4 Juventus 2, October 20

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    It all looked rosy for defending Serie A champions Juventus when two goals in the space of three minutes at the end of the first half from Carlos Tevez and Paul Pogba put them 2-0 at the break.

    That lead was kept right up until the 66th minute in Florence, only for Fiorentina to stun the Old Lady with four unanswered strikes to win the game.

    Giuseppe Rossi scored three of them, the first a penalty, whilst Joaquin added the other to complete one of the more remarkable matches that Italy has seen for some time.

13. West Bromwich Albion 5 Manchester United 5, May 19

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    Well he was never going to bow out quietly was he?

    Sir Alex Ferguson's final match as a manager turned into a modern day classic as 10 goals were shared equally on the final day of the 2012/13 season.

    Shinji Kagawa, a Jonas Olsson own goal and Alexander Buttner put Manchester United 3-0 up within half an hour at The Hawthorns, where James Morrison pulled one back before the break.

    Romelu Lukaku reduced the deficit further early in the second half, but United looked to have it won when Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez put them 5-2 up.

    However Lukaku, Youssouf Mulumbu and then Lukaku again struck in the final 10 minutes, with Ferguson taking a well-deserved bow at the end.

12. Colombia 3 Chile 3, October 11

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    At 3-0 down inside the first half an hour, the World Cup must have felt miles away for Colombia.

    The hosts needed at least a point from their clash with Chile in Barranquilla to qualify for Brazil, but an Arturo Vidal penalty and a brace from Alexis Sanchez established a dominating lead for the visitors.

    Colombia were determined to bounce back though, and a strike from Teofilo Gutierrez was followed by two Radamel Falcao penalties in the final 15 minutes to ensure that next summer will see their first World Cup finals appearance since France 98.

11. Borussia Dortmund 3 Malaga 2, April 9

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    Borussia Dortmund made the Champions League final in 2013, but they very nearly didn't.

    After a goalless draw in the first leg of their quarter-final tie against Malaga, Dortmund were stunned when Joaquin gave the Spanish side the lead with an away goal in Germany.

    Robert Lewandowski equalised, but then Eliseu's goal eight minutes from time ensured that the hosts needed to score twice to progress.

    Sure enough, they waited until stoppage time to do so.

    Marco Reus and then a suspiciously offside-looking Felipe Santana scored to put Dortmund into a semi-final with Real Madrid, and put Malaga into wondering just what might have been had they enjoyed a little more luck.

10. Manchester City 4 Manchester United 1, September 22

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    David Moyes' first Manchester derby will be one he'll want to forget in a hurry.

    Manchester City simply dominated his Manchester United side to deliver the kind of result that could act as a statement for both club's seasons.

    Sergio Aguero's almost balletic finish put the hosts ahead, with Yaya Toure crucially bundling home from a corner to make it 2-0 just before half-time.

    City were never going to let that advantage slip, but instead of protecting it they doubled it through Aguero again and Samir Nasri.

    Wayne Rooney's fine free-kick acted as a consolation for United, but it was hardly that.

9. Manchester City 6 Arsenal 3, December 14

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    Many have been waiting for Arsenal's real tests before claiming they can win the Premier League this season, and they failed this one spectacularly.

    Sergio Aguero fired City in front early, and after Theo Walcott had equalised, Alvaro Negredo scored a crucial goal to re-establish the home side's lead just before the break.

    Fernandinho curled home his first City goal for 3-1, but Walcott soon scored again. The hosts then found an extra gear and raced into a 5-2 lead through finishes from David Silva and Fernandinho again.

    There was still time for a Per Mertesacker header and Yaya Toure penalty to take the total goals tally for the day to nine, and City's points to three.

8. Manchester United 1 Real Madrid 2, March 5

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    A recent report showed this to be the event of 2013 which received the most tweets per second in Britain (Sky News), and there was certainly a lot to fit into 140 characters.

    Following a 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Bernabeu, Manchester United took control of what would prove to be Sir Alex Ferguson's last Champions League quarter-final when Sergio Ramos put through his own net.

    However, Nani was then controversially sent off for catching Alvaro Arbeloa with a high foot, and Real wasted no time in making the most of their one-man advantage.

    Luka Modric and then Cristiano Ronaldo scored to put Real through, with the latter opting not to celebrate against his former club.

7. Brazil 3 Spain 0, July 1

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    If the Confederations Cup was seen as a blueprint for the World Cup, then Brazil will certainly have high hopes for it.

    In the final, the hosts dismantled a Spain side seen by many as untouchable, with forward Fred opening the scoring just two minutes into the contest at a fervent Maracana.

    As so often throughout a tournament in which he sparkled, Neymar was the inspiration behind Brazil's success, with his fierce near post finish making it 2-0 just before the break.

    Fred made it 3-0 early in the second half, with Spain's misery compounded when Sergio Ramos missed a penalty and Gerard Pique was sent off.

6. Manchester City 0 Wigan 1, May 11

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    It was City's FA Cup, the experts had told us. Relegation-threatened Wigan were only in the final to make up the numbers. Yeah, right.

    The Latics were superb against Roberto Mancini's men, giving as good as they got and threatening to take the lead on several occasions before Pablo Zabaleta was given a late red card.

    Then came Wigan's glorious moment, as a stoppage time corner from Shaun Maloney was headed in by substitute Ben Watson to spark delirious celebrations and one of the greatest FA Cup final shocks of all-time.

5. Borussia Dortmund 4 Real Madrid 1, April 24

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    This was the evening when the whole world got to see the power of Borussia Dortmund, and their special forward, at their Westfalenstadion home.

    Robert Lewandowski scored four times as Dortmund blew away their illustrious opposition with a performance full of energy, effort and no little quality.

    Cristiano Ronaldo pulled one back for Real, but their 2-0 second leg win wasn't enough to overcome Lewandowski's heroics in the first.

4. France 3 Ukraine 0, November 19

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    A 2-0 defeat in the Ukraine in the first leg of their World Cup playoff had led to many French fans losing hope in their team, but the players clearly didn't feel the same way.

    On a night to remember in Paris, the hosts launched a stunning comeback to win 3-0 and book a place in Brazil in the summer.

    Defender Mamadou Sakho was the unlikely hero, with the Liverpool man scoring twice either side of half-time, with Karim Benzema's controversial effort sandwiched in between.

3. Bayern Munich 4 Barcelona 0, April 23

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    Was this the game that marked the beginning of the end of the Barcelona dynasty?

    It was certainly one which showcased Bayern Munich's claim to be the growing superpower in European football, as Barca were dismantled at the Allianz Arena on the way to Bayern's 7-0 aggregate win.

    Thomas Mueller started and ended the scoring on this special night in Bavaria, with Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben adding the other goals.

2. Borussia Dortmund 1 Bayern Munich 2, May 25

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    Germany took over Wembley for the Champions League final, and as well as being a fine celebration of the country's football it was also a very good game too.

    Pressing replaced passing as a high-tempo affair engrossed watchers from all over the continent, who saw Mario Mandzukic fire Bayern in front in the second half.

    Ilkay Gundogan's penalty levelled matters, and just when it looked as though the game was heading for extra-time Arjen Robben, the villain of the previous year's final defeat to Chelsea, popped up with a winner to send half of the Germans in the crowd wild.

1. Sweden 2 Portugal 3, November 19

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    This contest for one of the biggest prizes in football turned into a compelling shootout between two of the best players on the planet.

    Leading 1-0 courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo's first leg header, Portugal looked to be cruising through this World Cup play-off when Ronaldo struck again in Stockholm.

    However Zlatan Ibrahimovic was determined for Sweden not to go down without a fight, and he struck twice to put his side within a goal of the aggregate lead, only for Ronaldo to strike twice more to seal Portugal's place in Brazil, knock Sweden out and win this particular battle of world football heavyweights.