Inspired by Robert Lewandowski’s five-goal, nine-minute barrage against Wolfsburg, Lee Davy recounts five magical moments from the world of football.
When I told my son that Robert Lewandowski had scored five goals in nine minutes to destroy early title challengers Wolfsburg, he responded by suggesting that it must be a world record.
I am not sure about that. It seems entirely probable, especially at the top level; but I am sure it’s one of those crazy moments in football that turns your hairs harder than a polished slab of black. It defies categorization of any kind. It’s a freak occurrence offering a reminder as to why you fell in love with the game in the first place.
It wasn’t until I read the match report this morning that I realized that he wasn’t even in the starting line up! He came off the bench when Bayern were trailing by a goal to nil, scoring five goals in eight minutes and 59 seconds.
“I have never witnessed something like this whether as a player or a coach.” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said after the game.
Here are five more freaks of football nature.
1. Germany Beat Brazil 7 – 1 in the 2014 World Cup Semi Finals
I wouldn’t say the result was a shock. Brazil was the home nation. Neymar was playing the best football that I had ever seen. But they were still pants. If I was a gambling man I would have taken out a large mortgage, and then laid that mortgage on Brazil not winning the World Cup. I couldn’t understand for the life of me why they were favorites.
So I expected Germany to dish out a whooping.
But 7 – 1?
It was one of the funniest sights in football.
2. Manchester United Beat Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League Final
If you are a United fan, like I am, then this game will always rank as the most famous comeback in the history of the sport. Liverpool fans will no doubt disagree, but I stand by my thoughts on this.
It was a torrid match. Bayern were leading one-nil, and in truth, they could have been up by three goals as they capitalized on United’s push for that equalizer, striking the woodwork twice.
I was drunk as a skunk when David Beckham wandered over to take what everyone assumed to be the last corner of the final, three minutes into injury time. The finest metrosexual in the world swung it over, it was headed to Giggsy on the edge of the box; he swung a foot at it, and Teddy did the same from the six yard box to place the ball into the back of the net.
I remember the landlord pinning me against the wall because I kicked my chair in all the confusion. I was still there when Beckham did it again, Teddy nodded it on and Ole stuck out a toe to send it on a detour into the back of the Bayern net.
We had won the treble.
That’s why it was the greatest comeback in history.
3. Liverpool beat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final
I imagine that line is used a lot around Anfield when Liverpool are suffering a beating. As a United fan I am programmed to hate Liverpool. But in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan I was a Liverpool fan, because my Britishness overrides any internal Premier League politics I may have.
So when Liverpool trudged off the park three goals down at half time I was gutted. Then came six minutes of miraculous majesty as Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso scored second half goals to send the tie into extra time, and a penalty shootout, that Liverpool eventually won 3-2.
It was such a stunning upset that Milan players threw their losers medals into the crowd at the end of the match. It shouldn’t have happened. It did happen. It was the second greatest comeback in footballing history.
4. Denmark win the 1992 European Championships
I have always had a soft spot for the Danish national side.
I will always remember my Mum allowing me to sneak downstairs to watch them hammer Uruguay 6-1 during the 1986 World Cup. Michael Laudrup and Jesper Olsen were immense.
Then my Uncle took me to watch Wales v Denmark at Ninian Park. It was my first international. The Danes were so colorful. I have followed them with interest ever since.
But when the 1992 European Championships kicked off in Sweden I was England through and through. Until recently, I always believed England would win every major tournament they entered. 1992 was no different in many ways: I thought they would win, and they let me down.
Denmark was in the same group as England. They qualified as runner-up behind the hosts Sweden after beating the French two-one in the final group game.
At that point they were nothing special, and everyone expected them to have their asses handed to them on a plate against the Dutch in the semi-finals. Denmark were excellent that day, and almost won the match in 90-minutes after two gals from Henrik Larsen, only for Frank Rijkaard to score in the 86th minute to push the game into extra time, and later penalties. Denmark banged in all five of their spot kicks and Marco Van Basten missed for the Dutch to hand the Danes a final berth against Germany.
If there was ever a David v Goliath metaphor then this was it. Germany is Germany. They always win major tournaments. Denmark, on the other hand, never wins anything. Then they went and won 2-0, a victory even more remarkable than the fact that John Jensen scored the opening goal. In over 400 appearances for club and country he had only ever scored 12 goals.
“If Denmark can do it, England can do it.”
That’s what I said at the end of that match.
They still haven’t done it.
5. Greece win the 2004 European Championships
If Denmark winning the European Championships gave me hope that England could one day do it, then Greece’s unlikely victory in the 2004 European Championships made me believe that Wales could win it despite never qualifying for the tournament in my lifetime. That’s how unbelievable the Greeks victory was.
Not only was Greece an average team. They didn’t even have any standout players. It was their first appearance in the finals in 24-years. It’s safe to say that they were the bookies favorite for an early exit.
It didn’t take long for Greece to gain momentum. They beat the hosts Portugal by two goals to one in the opening match of Group A. A score draw against Spain would make sure they went through as group runners-up. A 2-1 loss to Russia not making a jot of difference to their progress.
Greece then stunned the 1998 World Cup winners France, in the quarter finals, by a goal to nil, before booking their place in the final after another unexpected one-nil victory, this time against the Czech Republic after an extra time winner by Traianos Dellas.
For the first time in European Championships history, the final game would be the same two teams that faced off in the first game. Despite Greece winning that opening game, the final was a foregone conclusion. Portugal had looked in fine form sweeping aside England and the Dutch, they were on home soil, and had a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in their line up.
Greece didn’t care.
They went on to record their third one-nil victory of the knockout phase to become the unlikeliest European Championship champions in the history of the tournament.
Those are my five magical moments in football.
What are yours?