Sportsmail relives the most dramatic final days in Premier League history  

0
15
Sergio Aguero scored a last-gasp goal to win the Premier League title for Man City in 2012


The final day of the Premier League season was scheduled for this weekend – before coronavirus struck to put sport on hold.

There have been some thrilling finales to campaigns at both ends of the table over the years – the agony and ecstasy of the very end of a 38-game stretch can be hard to beat and the last batch of fixtures in May is rarely a dull affair.

Yes, Liverpool would probably have had this one wrapped up weeks ago but chances are there would have been plenty left to play for in the push for Europe and the fight to stay up.  

With this in mind, Sportsmail has had a look through the archives to select our top five Premier League finales. 

Sergio Aguero scored a last-gasp goal to win the Premier League title for Man City in 2012

2005-06: Tottenham lose fourth spot to Arsenal after ‘Lasagne Gate’

After years of mediocrity, Tottenham were starting to look like contenders for Europe under the leadership of Martin Jol, and by the end of the 2005-06 season, they very nearly displaced their bitter rivals Arsenal in final the Champions League spot.  

But what followed is part of the reason the club have gained the unwanted label of being ‘Spursy’. Tottenham went into the last day only needing to match Arsenal’s result against Wigan when they travelled to West Ham.

Adding to the drama was the added motivation for the Gunners players of their last ever game at Highbury before switching to the Emirates. 

Tottenham players were hit by a mystery bug before a crucial game at West Ham in 2005-06

Tottenham players were hit by a mystery bug before a crucial game at West Ham in 2005-06

But a bizarre tale was unfolding at the hotel Tottenham had stayed at before their trip to Upton Park, as players began to fall ill. Jol claimed up to 10 players had been affected by the illness – which was later blamed on a dodgy lasagne in the hotel. It was later proved this wasn’t the case. 

With a number of stars keeling over, Spurs attempted to have the crucial game pushed back 24 hours, but their pleas were rejected and the game went ahead.

Jermaine Jenas told BT Sport in 2018: ‘I was away with the team in the hotel, we all travelled together and woke up to text messages of us trying to get the game cancelled. Ringing around the lads, everyone’s throwing up all over the place, literally the whole team.’

So Tottenham were on the back foot before the first whistle was blown as players took to the field despite being in a bad way, and Jenas recalls midfielder Michael Carrick suffering particularly.

‘Michael Carrick, I don’t know how he went out and played a game of football. I’ve never seen anyone in a worse state than I saw him during the game.’

The illness was blamed on a lasagna eaten by players in the hotel the night before the game

The illness was blamed on a lasagna eaten by players in the hotel the night before the game

After just 10 minutes Carl Fletcher made it an uphill task, although incredibly Spurs managed to rally and levelled through Jermain Defoe’s stunning strike.

But a draw was never going to be enough to match Arsenal’s result in the last-ever game at Highbury.   

The Latics did threaten to spoil the party and do Spurs a favour after taking a 2-1 lead in the first half, but the genius of Thierry Henry did the rest. 

The Frenchman struck just before half time to boost the Gunners at the break before hitting two more in the second half to round off a superb hat-trick and help the club bid farewell to their famous ground in style. 

Meanwhile, Thierry Henry hit a hat-trick for Arsenal against Wigan in the last game at Highbury

Meanwhile, Thierry Henry hit a hat-trick for Arsenal against Wigan in the last game at Highbury

Spurs weren't their usual selves and were punished as Yossi Benayoun (L) hit a late winner

Spurs weren’t their usual selves and were punished as Yossi Benayoun (L) hit a late winner

Back at Upton Park, Spurs were still hanging on as Teddy Sheringham missed a penalty against his former club. They still needed a goal to edge their way above Arsenal, but simply didn’t have enough in the tank. 

Yossi Benayoun dashed any hopes as he swept home from Nigel Reo-Coker’s backheel with 10 minutes left. 

In the years that have followed the strange saga, fans have claimed it was a conspiracy or that the players were poisoned. It simply wasn’t meant to be.  

2007-08: Fulham’s great escape, United pip Chelsea to the title

Heading into a final day with plenty still to be decided, the 2007-08 season finale teased plenty of drama and it didn’t disappoint. 

For Roy Hodgson’s Fulham, staying up looked to be Mission Impossible, even after their heroics in previous weeks following back-to-back away wins against fellow strugglers Reading and an impressive victory at Manchester City. 

Roy Hodgson had lifted Fulham but they were still faced with a huge task to beat Portsmouth

Roy Hodgson had lifted Fulham but they were still faced with a huge task to beat Portsmouth

They had beaten Birmingham 2-0 at Craven Cottage but still had one more hurdle to overcome as they headed to Fratton Park attempting to win their third successive away game – something that had never been achieved in their Premier League history.

At the top of the table, Manchester United were at the DW Stadium knowing a victory would be enough to keep Chelsea’s hands off the Premier League and win it for the second time in a row.

The Blues, at home to Bolton, grew twitchy after news of Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-half strike from the penalty spot. But their dreams of reclaiming the league crown took a boost when Andriy Shevchenko poked home with half an hour left.

Manchester United saw off Chelsea to be crowed 2007-08 champions after beating Wigan

Manchester United saw off Chelsea to be crowed 2007-08 champions after beating Wigan

Chelsea, meanwhile, stumbled at home to Bolton as Avram Grant's men could only draw 1-1

Chelsea, meanwhile, stumbled at home to Bolton as Avram Grant’s men could only draw 1-1

But back at Wigan, United deflated those hopes as Ryan Giggs slotted home for goal No 2 and wrapped up the title. 

And to compound the blow for Avram Grant’s men, they weren’t even left with the consolation of finishing level on points with the Red Devils – Matty Taylor’s stoppage-time strike squirmed past a host of bodies and into the net to round off a bad day for Chelsea.

At Fratton Park it was the moment of truth for Fulham. They had battled hard against Pompey for much of the game in a bid to ensure all their hard work wasn’t for nothing, but we’re still stuck in a 0-0 stalemate and were in desperate need of a goal. 

Danny Murphy scored the winner as his header secured a 1-0 win to keep Fulham in the league

Danny Murphy scored the winner as his header secured a 1-0 win to keep Fulham in the league 

In the 76th minute they broke the deadlock. Jimmy Bullard – who had been so instrumental in the team’s late resurgence – delivered another inch-perfect set-piece that landed on the head of Danny Murphy, who nodded home.

Looking back on his goal in his Sportsmail column in April, Murphy said it matched the feeling of lifting silverware. 

‘It was as satisfying as winning trophies because of how much it meant to everyone. People might have lost their jobs if we’d been relegated. 

Fulham won three consecutive Premier League away games for the first time in their history

Fulham won three consecutive Premier League away games for the first time in their history

‘With 14 minutes left, we needed a goal so I got into the box and Jimmy Bullard’s cross was so good, I just let it hit me and go in. I only scored about six headers in my whole career.

‘It was a real sliding doors moment because instead of dropping into the Championship, we really blossomed over the next couple of years under Roy Hodgson and reached the Europa League final.’  

2010-11: Wigan and Wolves survive after four-way relegation scrap 

For years Wigan were the team that never knew when they were beaten, repeatedly escaping the jaws of relegation, but in 2011 their survival was particularly memorable under Roberto Martinez. 

The Latics, preparing for a trip to Stoke, had already sent West Ham down prior to the final day of the campaign and teed themselves up for a four-way tussle for safety along with Blackpool, Wolves and Birmingham.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez helped the club keep their heads above water against the odds

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez helped the club keep their heads above water against the odds

On a day tipped as ‘Survival Sunday’, Blackpool had arguably the toughest task of them all, heading to Old Trafford attempting to take points off Premier League champions Manchester United. 

Ian Holloway and his men threatened to pull off an incredible shock in their bid to stay up as Charlie Adam and Gary Taylor-Fletcher helped them come from behind to lead 2-1. 

But it all started to unravel for the Tangerines thanks to second-half strikes from Anderson, an own goal from Ian Evatt and a fourth from Michael Owen to consign them to the Championship the following season.  

Blackpool were relegated after a 4-2 defeat at Manchester United after a brave battle

Blackpool were relegated after a 4-2 defeat at Manchester United after a brave battle

Over at the Britannia Stadium, Wigan were keeping their heads above water at 0-0, before their big moment came on 78 minutes. 

Charles N’Zogbia, the two-goal hero against West Ham, turned provider as he floated a delivery to the back post where Hugo Rodallega was waiting to glance his header into the net, as the Colombian was mobbed by his team-mates.

One minute later, Birmingham had just equalised against Tottenham at White Hart Lane through Gary Gardner to give themselves hope – but needed a winner to ensure survival. 

Their supporters willed them on for one last push but the players looked like they were running out of steam. 

Wolves looked doomed after going 3-0 down to Blackburn only for Stephen Hunt to hit a stunner to help them climb out on goal difference

Wolves looked doomed after going 3-0 down to Blackburn only for Stephen Hunt to hit a stunner to help them climb out on goal difference 

Meanwhile at Wolves, things were looking incredibly bleak as the visitors raced into a 3-0 first half lead. Whatever Mick McCarthy said at half time, it worked. 

A goal from Jamie O’Hara and a stunning strike in the 87th minute by Stephen Hunt pushed them out of the bottom three on goal difference above Birmingham.

Blues fans grimaced as the news filtered in at the Lane, before Spurs put them out of their misery in the 93rd minute. 

Birmingham needed to beat Spurs to stay up, but they fell to a late 2-1 defeat in north London

Birmingham needed to beat Spurs to stay up, but they fell to a late 2-1 defeat in north London

Roman Pavlyuchenko latched onto a loose ball in the Birmingham half before driving forward unchallenged and smashing a piledriver in off the post. 

Alex McLeish’s men were down, and so were plenty of the players as they slumped to the turf.

As the full-time whistles rang at Molineux and the Britannia, Wolves and Wigan celebrated a remarkable escape. Wigan chairman Dave Whelan came down to the pitch to soak in the euphoria with the players – and he was duly soaked in champagne.  

Delirious Wigan players embrace manager Martinez after confirming their top-flight status

Delirious Wigan players embrace manager Martinez after confirming their top-flight status 

Chairman Dave Whelan came down to the pitch to celebrate with the players and Martinez

Chairman Dave Whelan came down to the pitch to celebrate with the players and Martinez

1994-95: Blackburn clinch Premier League title despite late Liverpool goal  

All Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn side needed to claim their first top-flight crown since 1914 was a win. The only problem was that they had to do it at Anfield against Liverpool.

Despite their tough trip to play the Reds, Blackburn still looked good for the title as they sat just a point ahead of United, who had travelled to West Ham.  

Alan Shearer put one hand on the trophy with his 34th goal of the season after he was picked out just inside the area totally unmarked and slotted home beyond David James with 20 minutes gone.

Blackburn feared they had blown a first title in 80 years when Liverpool scored a late winner

Blackburn feared they had blown a first title in 80 years when Liverpool scored a late winner

And things got even better when Michael Hughes put the Hammers in front against United. But just after half-time in east London, Brian McClair equalised for the Red Devils before John Barnes also hit a leveller against Blackburn to make things interesting. 

Going into stoppage time both games were still all square – that was until Jamie Redknapp hit an outrageous, curling free kick into the top left corner of Tim Flowers’ goal with seconds left.

Blackburn fans had heads in hands – and Liverpool fans weren’t celebrating either. They didn’t want to see their fierce rivals Manchester United lift a third successive Premier League title and thought they had gifted them a chance to do just that. 

One goal at the Boleyn and it would have been all over for Dalglish and his brave team, but United couldn’t find a way through against West Ham – managed by Redknapp’s dad Harry.

But Manchester United couldn't do their bit against West Ham and could only draw 1-1

But Manchester United couldn’t do their bit against West Ham and could only draw 1-1

Blackburn held off the stern challenge from United despite their 2-1 defeat at Anfield

Blackburn held off the stern challenge from United despite their 2-1 defeat at Anfield  

Dalglish was told the news and the emotions from the players flipped on its head as they got the party started and marched their way around the pitch.

Speaking last month to Sportsmail about the famous triumph, Shearer said: ‘[Man United] were gunning for us. There was pressure being put on us and Fergie was a master at that, wasn’t he? We got off to a decent start at Anfield. We should have scored in the second half. But we didn’t and we were punished.

‘There was only three or four seconds when I thought: ‘We’ve lost it’. Then all of a sudden, the whole of Anfield started going mad. That’s when we knew we’d won it.’   

2011-12: Last-gasp Aguero wins the title for Man City 

Commentator Martin Tyler said it best after Sergio Aguero rippled the back of the net in stoppage time to win the league and send the Etihad faithful into raptures: ‘I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again.’

And you probably won’t. In that moment, nearly every football fanatic in the country was a Man City fan. The Sky Blues looked to be facing the impossible – 2-1 down to QPR in the 91st minute and needing two goals to scoop their first league crown since 1968 – with rivals Manchester United at Sunderland waiting for a slip.

Man City won their first title since the 60s in one of the most dramatic final days ever seen

Man City won their first title since the 60s in one of the most dramatic final days ever seen

QPR had put up one hell of a fight despite the daunting task of travelling to Manchester looking for a result to secure their top-flight status. 

They had come from behind after Pablo Zabaleta’s early strike to take a shock lead through Djbril Cisse and Jamie Mackie, either side of Joey Barton’s red card.

Elsewhere at the Stadium of Light, United were doing their bit with Wayne Rooney scoring the only goal to put themselves two points clear at the top. City still only needed to beat a relegation struggler at home to secure title glory – but fans looked on in despair thinking their dreams were sinking without a trace.

But it looked like the dream might fall apart for City after QPR went 2-1 up at the Etihad

But it looked like the dream might fall apart for City after QPR went 2-1 up at the Etihad

Wayne Rooney had already given United a 1-0 win over Sunderland as they awaited the result

Wayne Rooney had already given United a 1-0 win over Sunderland as they awaited the result

The 90 minutes were up and the fourth official added five on. Enter Edin Dzeko. City won a corner and David Silva went over to take it as City fans continued to gnaw at their fingernails. 

Silva drilled it in and the Bosnian pounced, burying a header at close range – 2-2. ‘Could it happen?’ asked Tyler.

Into the 93rd and supporters were seen anxiously tuning in to radio stations with the news that the full-time whistle had gone at Sunderland. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had secured the win and were the champions as it stood – as City launched one final attack. 

Edin Dzeko pulled one back before Aguero found space in the area and hit a stunning winner

Edin Dzeko pulled one back before Aguero found space in the area and hit a stunning winner

The stadium erupted as Aguero twirled his shirt in the air and fans watched on in disbelief

The stadium erupted as Aguero twirled his shirt in the air and fans watched on in disbelief 

Manager Roberto Mancini was seen running up and down the touchline and embracing staff

Manager Roberto Mancini was seen running up and down the touchline and embracing staff

United players are devastated after hearing the news that City have scored at the death

United players are devastated after hearing the news that City have scored at the death 

Aguero picked up the ball outside the box, played a one-two with Mario Balotelli, took one touch to set himself up and slammed home to write his name into the history books. 

Images of the Argentine twirling his shirt in the air as the stadium erupted and Roberto Mancini running around the touchline will live long in the memory, as will those of dejected United players upon hearing the news – with Ferguson attempting to console them.

Reflecting on that momentous day, Aguero told Sky Sports in 2017: ‘You only have to talk to any City fans and that game is always the one they want to talk about. The fact that it is in their memories forever means I’m never going to forget it either.’ 

Club captain Vincent Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy after an emotional day

Club captain Vincent Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy after an emotional day



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here