When football is written in the stars
If you believe that something is written in the stars, you believe that something will be made to happen by a force that controls the future. This is a case which occurs in football quite a lot as well as this article looks at the many moments in football where a moment was just written in the stars:
120 minutes of the 2008 Champions League final were over and it was now a decisive penalty shootout which would separate two English giants in Manchester United and Chelsea. Chelsea were down to 10 men as Didier Drogba was sent off but they still looked in good shape with morale being high. Things started to look real good for the Blues when Cristiano Ronaldo – United’s star man that season as well as on the night – missed his penalty as Petr Cech guessed correct.
The remaining penalty takers all successfully netted as it now came down to John Terry – score, and Chelsea would have won the Champions League for the first time ever. As Terry stepped up to take the penalty, he slipped, hitting the post in the process as tears rolled down his face – Manchester United were still in it and from that point on, you could tell, this wasn’t going to be Chelsea’s night.
Chelsea’s Nicholas Anelka eventually missed the decisive sudden death penalty as Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated his second Champions League triumph. But it was Terry’s miss which changed it all as once he missed it, there was just this feeling that United would win it as Patrice Evra would agree to:
When he missed the penalty, I was convinced we were going to win the Champions League.
Arsenal were in a horrible run of form in the 2011/2012 season with their hopes of a top four finish hanging in the balance as they faced a revived Sunderland side under Martin O’Neill.
The game was notable – as it was Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry’s last league game for the club in his second stint with the Gunners but things went wrong just four minutes after Henry’s arrival as substitute, James McClean scored to give Sunderland the lead with 20 minutes left. Aaron Ramsey soon equalized for Arsenal and with the game tied, injury time approached. Fellow substitute, Andrei Arshavin was on for four minutes and cutting in from the left hand side, delivered a brilliant cross and it was tapped in to the back of the net – who scored?
Thierry Henry. In his last league game for the club, sending the Arsenal away fans into a craze. It was just written in the stars that it was him who’d end Arsenal’s poor run as that goal ultimately put Arsenal into the top four and they didn’t drop out of it since, finishing 3rd by the end of the season.
It was the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals – the game between Ghana and Uruguay was poised at 2-2 in extra-time. Any goal now and the winner would go on to face Holland in the semifinals. Suddenly a last minute freekick was whipped in and the ball seemed to be heading into the Uruguayan goal until it rebounded off the goal. Chaos and confusion everywhere – suddenly the referee goes towards Luis Suarez and shows him a red card.
Suarez blocked the goal with his hand intentionally, resulting in a straight red for the striker while Ghana were awarded a penalty in the last minute to end the game. Suarez was heading down the tunnel – in tears – while Asamoah Gyan stepped up to take the crucial penalty. He missed. The whole nation skipped a heart beat while Suarez – from sadness erupted into a state of happiness, celebrating as Uruguay now took the game to penalties.
Gyan looked demoralized – he blew his country’s chances of reaching the semifinals in normal time and from then on, it just seemed like it was going to be Uruguay’s night and it turned out so, as La Celeste won the eventual penalty shootout, with Suarez – who was sent off and didn’t take part in the shootout – the hero for Uruguay.
Chelsea were doing horribly under Andre Villas Boas and after a 3-1 round of 16 first leg drubbing from Napoli, followed by a league loss, the Portuguese was replaced by Chelsea legend, Roberto Di Matteo. The Italian was able to turn Chelsea’s fortunes as they beat Napoli 4-1 the following leg as the Blues progressed to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Portuguese side, Benfica awaited, who earlier beat Manchester United in the group stages – the Encarnados dominated the first leg but ended up losing 1-0 courtesy of a Salomon Kalou goal while in the return leg, they were harshly down to 10 men, still dominated Chelsea and ended up losing 2-1. Next up were Barcelona – the reigning champions. After all the luck Chelsea had, could they beat the best team in the world?
After 90 minutes of the first leg, Chelsea – would you know it – lead 1-0 on aggregate courtesy of a Didier Drogba goal on the break. Come the game at the Nou Camp, Chelsea were down to 10 men as John Terry was sent off and Barcelona were leading 2-0 thanks to goals from Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta. But right on the stroke of halftime, Ramires scored with a chip and if the scoreline remained this way, Chelsea would be through to the final for only the second time in their history. Chelsea held on and ultimately scored again on the break with Fernando Torres rounding Victor Valdes and confirming the Blues’ place in the final.
Was it written in the stars that Chelsea would win the Champions League? German heavyweights, Bayern Munich awaited in the final and after a game of dominance for the Bavarians, Thomas Muller scored with only seven minutes left of normal time – did Chelsea’s luck end? Not quite – with two minutes left, Drogba scored a header from a corner, equalizing for the Blues as the game was now heading to extra time.
Former Chelsea man, Arjen Robben missed a penalty in extra time, adding to Bayern’s woes as it kept looking like it would be Chelsea’s night as the game headed to penalties. Luck was on Chelsea’s side as they won the shootout with Drogba scoring the last kick in his last game for the Blues as they recorded a first ever Champions League win – which was really, written in the stars, given the circumstances of their run to the final.
It was France legend, Zinedine Zidane’s last ever game – the 2006 World Cup final in which France, against all the odds, including their “old squad” made it through to the final with memorable victories over Spain, Brazil and Portugal, now having to face Italy. France started off brightly and soon earned a penalty with Zidane – cool as you like – scoring via a paneka. Italy equalized with a header from Marco Materazzi soon after as the game headed to extra time.
With 10 minutes left until penalties and France looking the more likely to win the World Cup, Zidane headbutted Materazzi after being provoked by the Italian defender, resulting in his sending off – it was the last game of his career and it ended in a nightmare for the Real Madrid legend. From that point on, you just knew that the momentum would shift to Italy as the Azzuri won the eventual penalty shootout with Fabio Grosso scoring the winning penalty.