Leicester City pulls off the biggest sporting upset in history by winning the Premier League after Spurs fail to beat Chelsea after surrendering a 2-0 first half lead.
As the ball curled over the outstretched hand of Hugo Lloris, and Eden Hazard wheeled away to celebrate with his teammates as if they had won the Premier League title, I had mixed feelings.
A few tears trickled down my cheeks as my body and mind tried to make sense of the greatest sporting achievement in history. It is a story that will be told for the next 100-years. It shoves a gag in the mouths of those who do not believe that anything is possible. It is a working class victory. It is a triumph for the little man. It is a victory for life.
And then, my thoughts went to Claudio Ranieri, Jamie Vardy, and the rest of the Leicester City Titans. Where are they at this hour? Who is celebrating with them? How are they celebrating? And then it didn’t feel right. They are warriors. I am sure, secretly, they would have preferred that Hazard curler had hit the bar so that they could win it in style at home to Everton on Saturday.
But it didn’t hit the bar.
The man who won the 2014/15 Premier League title for Chelsea with a strike against Crystal Palace, has won the 2015/16 title for minnows Leicester. It’s the club’s first top-tier title in the club’s 132-year history; it will drag in around £150 million additional revenue as Ranieri gets set to pit his wits against Europe’s elite.
Leicester’s triumph is stunning. I tried explaining it to my wife last night, and words don’t do it justice. Leicester didn’t survive all the odds to win one game. They didn’t manage to navigate their way through a cup run. They only lost three of their previous 36 games, after being dead certs for relegation the last season.
They were 5,000-1 to win the title with only Bournemouth, Norwich, and Watford holding longer odds. And while most of the credit will go to Claudio Ranieri and his backroom staff, you have to take your hat off to former boss Nigel Pearson.
Everyone believed Leicester were going to be relegated last season, especially after they held up the rest of the table for so long. Then, out of nowhere, Leicester managed to win seven in nine games to escape relegation. It was the start of that run that has ended in this title triumph. I don’t know how they went from doing things so wrong to doing things so right, but I do believe that the underdog spirit and the ability to choose nearly the same side week-in and week-out helped significantly.
Spurs Couldn’t Get it Done
After Leicester had drawn 1-1 at Old Trafford on the weekend, Spurs knew they needed to win their last three games, and hope that Leicester slipped up, if they were going to win their first Premier League title.
Mauricio Pochettino was pacing along his technical area like a wounded bear. You could see what it meant to the man who recently signed a new five-year contract to remain at White Hart Lane.
Spurs started the brighter. They always looked a threat moving forward. Danny Rose and Kyle Walker’s pace along the flanks was frightening. Then in the 35th minute, Christian Eriksen slipped the ball into Erik Lamela; who found Harry Kane, and the England striker rounded Asimir Begovic before scoring his 25th Premier League goal of the season.
The wounded bear jumped for joy.
It could have been two, four minutes later when Son Heung-min saw his shot blocked by a goal-saving tackle from Gary Cahill. And then in the 43rd minute, it seemed inevitable that Leicester would have to beat Everton on Saturday to win the title, after Eriksen broke through the midfield, put Son in through goal, and the South Korean finished with ease.
Spurs went into the half time break in complete control. Chelsea had nothing to play for except pride. Pochettino would have told his side not to give Chelsea anything to get interested in. Then in the 58th minute, they had something. Toby Alderweireld lost Gary Cahill from a corner, and the centre back brought the ball under control before volleying it past Lloris.
The bear started prowling once more.
You could tell on Pochettino’s face that Cahill’s strike was bad for business. Chelsea dominated after that moment. Spurs fell apart. At times, the pitch resembled a war zone as an openly frustrated Spurs side lost the pot as they saw their 9-month title challenge start to frizzle away.
Spurs had eight players booked. Both Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier should have been sent off (Dembele will almost certainly miss the rest of the season after his face scratch on the face of the irritable Diego Costa). Even the bear got involved in a touchline brawl with Willian.
Things got even worse after the introduction of last year’s PFA Player of the Year, Eden Hazard. He has been a ghost this season, but he played like he had a point to prove. Then with seven minutes left on the clock, he wiggled past several Spurs midfielders, passed the ball to Costa, continued his run into the box, the Spaniard found him, and he curled a perfect shot beyond Lloris into the top corner of the goal.
It was his first Premier League goal at Stamford Bridge since his title-winning goal against Crystal Palace last season.
It was a goal that won Leicester City the title.
It was a goal that set up father’s bedtime stories for the next 100 years.
Premier League Standings
1st. Leicester – 77 pts (CHAMPIONS)
2nd. Spurs – 70 pts.
3rd. Arsenal – 67 pts.
4th. Man City – 64 pts.
5th. Man Utd – 60 pts.
6th. West Ham – 59 pts.
7th. Southampton – 57 pts
8th. Liverpool – 55 pts.
9th. Chelsea – 48 pts.
10th. Stoke – 48 pts.
11th. Everton – 44 pts.
12th. Watford – 44 pts.
13th. Swansea – 43 pts.
14th. West Brom – 41 pts.
15th. Bournemouth – 41 pts.
16th. Crystal Palace – 39 pts.
17th. Newcastle – 33 pts.
18th. Sunderland- 32 pts.
19th. Norwich – 31 pts.
20th. Aston Villa – 16 pts (RELEGATED)