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Ranked! FourFourTwo's 50 best games of the decade

Liverpool Borussia Dortmund

As the 2010s come to a close, we've picked out the greatest matches of the last 10 years – featuring Champions League comebacks, Premier League deciders, World Cup shocks and much more

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50. Uruguay 1-1 Ghana (World Cup 2010)

Ghana Uruguay

One of the most dramatic incidents in World Cup history denied Ghana a place in the semi-finals and the history books, with African football still awaiting its first last-four representative a decade on. 

Few remember Sulley Muntari and Diego Forlan’s goals either side of half-time, as both sides battled for the right to face the Netherlands in Cape Town. Instead, the image that dominates this match is that of Luis Suarez punching clear Dominic Adiyiah’s header on the goalline, an offence that led to his dismissal and the award of a Ghanian penalty in the final minute of extra time.

Asamoah Gyan was the man entrusted to take the spot-kick, but his effort crashed against the crossbar - to the visible delight of the air-punching Suarez on the touchline. Gyan showed great nerve to convert his effort in the ensuing penalty shoot-out, but misses from John Mensah and Adiyiah handed Uruguay victory.

49. England 5-2 Spain (U17 World Cup Final 2017)

England Spain

England won their first ever Under-17 World Cup in style, vanquishing Spain 5-2 in Kolkata. The Young Lions required a penalty shoot-out to squeeze past Japan in the last 16, but subsequent victories over the United States (4-1) and Brazil (3-1) were emphatic. Still, they saved their best until last, despite falling 2-0 behind within half an hour.

Rhian Brewster halved the deficit in the 44th minute, before England ran riot after the break. Morgan Gibbs-White, Phil Foden (twice) and Marc Guehi were all on target, while Callum Hudson-Odoi continually terrorised the opposition defence. Spain, for so long held up as the blueprint for England to follow, couldn’t cope. 

48. Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Bayern Munich (Bundesliga 2015/16)

Bayern Munich Borussia Dortmund

Don’t let the scoreline fool you. There might not have been any goals when Dortmund and Bayern locked horns in March 2016, but this was an intense, engaging encounter featuring plenty of chances and some wonderful football from both teams.

A draw suited Pep Guardiola’s Bayern, who remained five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table as a result, but Thomas Muller, Douglas Costa, Arjen Robben and Arturo Vidal all spurned opportunities to land a knockout blow. 

Dortmund had multiple openings of their own, however, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang twice denied by the excellent Manuel Neuer. Those involved have only just got their breath back.

47. Leeds 2-4 Derby County (Championship Play-Off Semi-Final 2018/19)

Leeds Derby

A historic rivalry was renewed in 2018/19, as Leeds and Derby battled it out for a place in the Premier League. A spying storm earlier in the season had seen Derby report Marcelo Bielsa’s side to the Football League after a member of the club’s staff was spotted lurking around the Rams’ training ground. Leeds fans audibly advised Derby boss Frank Lampard to “stop crying”, but it was the former England international who had the last laugh.

Leeds won the first leg of the pair’s Championship play-off semi-final 1-0, and then doubled their aggregate lead midway through the first half of the second meeting. But Derby didn’t give up and overturned the deficit through goals from Jack Marriott, Mason Mount and Harry Wilson, only for Stuart Dallas to level things up once more.

Then, with extra time beckoning, Marriott popped up with his second of the night to put Derby 4-3 ahead on aggregate. That’s how it remained, leaving Lampard conspicuously tear-free on the touchline.

46. Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur (2010/11)

Arsenal Tottenham

Without a win at the home of their fiercest rivals since 1993, it looked like business as usual when Tottenham shipped two goals in the first 27 minutes of this north London derby. Arsenal, it seemed, were well on their way to top spot in the table.

This, however, was arguably Spurs’ strongest side of Premier League era up to that point, and they showed tremendous resolve to stage a remarkable second-half comeback. Gareth Bale pulled one back five minutes after the restart, before a Rafael van der Vaart penalty restored parity and a Younes Kaboul header completed the turnaround.

45. Bayern Munich 5-1 Wolfsburg (Bundesliga 2015/16)

Bayern Munich Wolfsburg

A match made famous by one man. Bayern Munich found themselves 1-0 down when Robert Lewandowski decided to not so much grab the bull by its horns as put it in a headlock, scoring five goals in nine stunning second-half minutes to leave Wolfsburg - and the watching public - shell-shocked.

It was a sensational salvo. Lewandowski had a hat-trick within five minutes but wasn’t done there, proceeding to add a fourth after some fine work from Douglas Costa on the left flank, before making it five with a stunning acrobatic volley on the hour mark. Even Pep Guardiola, head in hands in the home dugout, couldn’t believe what he had witnessed.

44. Swansea 5-4 Crystal Palace (Premier League 2016/17)

Swansea Palace

“A clean sheet and the first goal are probably two things top of our agenda,” declared Palace manager Alan Pardew ahead of his side’s trip to the Liberty Stadium in November 2016. Wilfried Zaha opened the scoring to fulfil half of Pardew’s wish, but a first shut-out in 18 Premier League games was beyond them - and then some.

A Gylfi Sigurdsson strike ensured Swansea went in level at the break, before these two relegation battlers played out a bonkers, topsy-turvy second half. The hosts went 3-1 up, before Palace roared back to take a 4-3 lead with six minutes remaining. 

Pardew’s side remained ahead until stoppage time, when a quick-fire Fernando Llorente brace turned the game on its head once more - leaving the beleaguered boss to lament his team’s defensive frailties once more.

43. Manchester City 0-1 Wigan (FA Cup 2012/13)

Manchester City Wigan

Having lost out to Manchester United in the title race, Manchester City had the chance to partially redeem themselves by winning the FA Cup. Lowly Wigan, whose relegation to the Premier League would be confirmed a few days later, were the only thing between Roberto Mancini’s men and the trophy.

But despite their superior star power, City came unstuck at Wembley. Wigan were fearless and took the game to their wealthier opponents throughout, with Shaun Maloney a constant threat and Callum McManaman delivering the performance of his career. 

This was no smash and grab: the Latics fully deserved the victory that was given to them in dramatic fashion, Ben Watson flashing a header home in second-half stoppage time.

42. England 1-2 Iceland (Euro 2016)

England Iceland

One of the darkest days in the history of the England national team, but the brightest for the underdogs of Iceland. Few expected anything other than a straightforward win for Roy Hodgson’s side in the last 16 of Euro 2016, particularly when Wayne Rooney drew first blood inside four minutes.

Iceland were soon level through Ragnar Sigurdsson, though, and what followed was England’s most ignominious episode since a 1-0 defeat by the United States at the 1950 World Cup. The underdogs edged ahead in the 18th minute and were the better team thereafter, outplaying, outhinking and outfighting their more celebrated counterparts to deservedly book a place in the quarter-finals.

41. Bayern Munich 1-1 Chelsea (Champions League Final 2011/12)

Bayern Chelsea

Chelsea’s extraordinary European campaign ended in typical fashion, as Roberto Di Matteo’s charges overcame Bayern Munich in their own backyard. The Bundesliga giants were overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy at the Allianz Arena, against a Chelsea side who had surely used up all their luck with a narrow victory over Barcelona in the semi-finals.

Bayern dominated possession from the outset but had to wait until the 83rd minute for the first goal, given to them by Thomas Muller. But Chelsea rallied, Didier Drogba powering a brilliant near-post header past Manuel Neuer to make it 1-1 in the closing stages.

A decisive third goal proved elusive in extra time, meaning the Champions League final would be decided on penalties for the first time since 2008, when Chelsea were beaten by Manchester United. The Blues made amends this time, Drogba converting the winning kick to give London its first ever European champions.

40. Watford 3-1 Leicester (Championship Play-Off Semi-Final 2012/13)

Watford Leicester

The most dramatic moment in Championship play-off history settled this semi-final in Watford’s favour. The two teams were level on aggregate when Leicester were awarded a penalty in the seventh minute of injury time at the end of the second leg at Vicarage Road. Anthony Knockaert stepped up but saw his effort saved by Manuel Almunia, who reacted quickly to deny the winger on the rebound too.

Watford’s fans breathed a sigh of relief in the knowledge that they now had extra time to land a decisive blow. The home side’s players had other ideas, though, immediately racing down the other end after clearing their lines. 

Fernando Forestieri collected possession on the right flank and lifted the ball towards the back post, where Jonathan Hogg had the presence of mind to head it back to the onrushing Tory Deeney. The Watford captain made no mistake, smashing the ball home from 10 yards to send Vicarage Road into raptures and the Hornets into the final.

39. Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona (Champions League 2010/11)

Arsenal Barcelona

In March 2010, Barcelona travelled to the Emirates Stadium and produced one of the most dominant first-half displays of the Pep Guardiola era. Nevertheless, Arsenal dug deep to secure a 2-2 draw that night, and they went one better when welcoming the Blaugrana to north London the following season.

David Villa broke the deadlock midway through the opening period, but a Jack Wilshere-inspired Arsenal grew stronger as the game wore on. They had to wait until the 78th minute to draw level through Robin van Persie, but the Gunners were well on top by that stage of proceedings and struck the winning goal through Andrey Arshavin five minutes later.

38. West Ham 2-4 Manchester United (Premier League 2010/2011)

West Ham Manchester United

Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were renowned for their comebacks, and this was probably their best in the Premier League in the final three years of the Scot’s reign. Two Mark Noble penalties in the first quarter of this April clash put West Ham in a commanding position and left United facing the prospect of seeing their lead at the top of the Premier League table cut to just two points.

The Hammers held a two-goal advantage until the 65th minute, when Wayne Rooney scored the first of his three goals that afternoon. Javier Hernandez put the icing on the cake late on, leaving United seven points clear at the summit after Arsenal were held to a draw by Blackburn.

37. Parma 4-5 Milan (Serie A 2014/15)

Parma Milan

Nine goals, two red cards, an impudent backheel finish and a remarkable own goal: this seemingly nondescript Serie A fixture had it all. Giacomo Bonaventura gave Milan the lead after a relatively quiet opening 25 minutes, but Antonio Cassano hit back against his former club soon after. 

The Rossoneri had established a two-goal lead by half-time thanks to Keisuke Honda and Jeremy Menez, but a poor start to the second period saw Felipe make it 2-3 and Daniele Bonera sent off. The two teams traded goals before Parma’s numerical disadvantage was wiped out in the 77th minute, as Felipe was given his marching orders. 

Menez then improvised to tuck the ball home with his heel after rounding Parma goalkeeper Antonio Miante, but Milan still weren’t home and dry and faced a nervous finale after a comical Mattia De Sciglio own goal from outside the box had made it 5-4 to the visitors.

36. Juventus 3-2 Roma (Serie A 2014/15)

Juventus Roma

Roma ultimately finished 17 points behind Juventus in the 2014/15 title race, but they were widely backed to push the Bianconeri all the way after beginning the campaign with five triumphs on the trot. Juventus also boasted a 100% winning record heading into this titanic tussle in October, which didn’t disappoint.

Carlos Tevez nudged the hosts ahead with a penalty, but their lead lasted just five minutes as Francesco Totti restored parity with another spot-kick. Juan Iturbe then gave Roma the lead in the 44th minute, but there was still time in the first half for Tevez to make it 2-2, again from the spot.

Both sides seemed to have settled for a share of the spoils until the closing stages, when Leonardo Bonucci’s magnificent volley put the champions in pole position. A fiery affair was rounded off in suitable fashion, with Alvaro Morata and Kostas Manolas both shown red cards after a melee involving multiple players from both sides.

35. RB Leipzig 4-5 Bayern Munich (Bundesliga 2016/17)

RB Leipzig Bayern Munich

There was little to play for when Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich travelled to second-placed RB Leipzig in May 2017, but that didn’t prevent the two sides serving up a pulsating encounter. 

Leipzig went 4-2 ahead in the 65th minute, Timo Werner grabbing his second of the game to give the home side some breathing space. Bayern, who had already been crowned champions, were on the verge of a third league defeat of the season, but Robert Lewandowski gave them hope by making it 4-3 with six minutes left on the clock.

Cue injury-time frenzy. A pinpoint David Alaba free-kick wiped out Leipzig’s lead, before Arjen Robben dribbled down the right wing, cut inside on his left foot and… well, you know the rest.

34. Belgium 3-2 Japan (World Cup 2018)

Belgium Japan

Optimism was in short supply in Japan ahead of the 2018 World Cup, even after the Samurai Blue were drawn in a favourable group alongside Colombia, Senegal and Poland. Yet Akira Nishino’s performed better than expected in Russia, and even took a two-goal lead against Belgium in the round of 16.

On the brink of what would have been another premature and underwhelming exit, Roberto Martinez’s side fought back. Jan Vertonghen pulled one back with a looping header in the 69th minute, and Marouane Fellaini nodded home an equaliser soon after.

Japan stemmed the flow thereafter, and even had chances of their own to find a winner. Keisuke Honda stung the palms of Thibaut Cortois with a 40-yard free-kick, before Belgium launched a brilliant counter-attack which culminated in Nacer Chadli rolling the ball home at the back post after a wonderful dummy from Romelu Lukaku.

33. Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United (Champions League 2010/11)

Barcelona Manchester United

“They're the best in Europe, no question about that. In my time as a manager, I would say they're the best team we've faced. Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It's not easy when you've been well beaten like that to think another way. No one has given us a hiding like that.”

So said Alex Ferguson after watching his Manchester United team lose a Champions League final to Barcelona for the second time in three seasons. Pep Guardiola’s men were magnificent at Wembley, delivering a performance for the ages to take the trophy back to the Catalonia.

United went into half-time level after Wayne Rooney cancelled out Pedro Rodriguez’s opener. But Barcelona were mesmerising in the second half, scoring twice more through Lionel Messi and David Villa, and making the champions of England look ineffectual and impotent.

32. Arsenal 3-2 Hull (FA Cup Final 2013/14)

Arsenal Hull

Without a trophy in nine years, Arsenal headed into this Wembley showpiece as wary favourites, with memories of their shock defeat by Birmingham in the 2011 League Cup Final at the forefront of supporters’ minds.

Their fears were hardly assuaged when Hull established a two-goal lead inside eight minutes. First, James Chester flicked a Tom Huddlestone volley past Lukasz Fabianski, then Curtis Davies smashed home a second to put the Tigers in a commanding position.

Arsenal fans must have feared the worst at that point, but Santi Cazorla halved the deficit in the 17th minute to make their task a little more manageable. The Gunners still weren’t level until deep into the second half, but their superior quality ultimately told as Aaron Ramsey notched the winner in extra time.

31. Borussia Dortmund 4-4 Schalke (Bundesliga 2017/18)

Schalke Borussia Dortmund

Having gone five games without a win, Borussia Dortmund were under pressure to reinvigorate their Bundesliga title tilt when arch-rivals Schalke came to town in November 2017. Peter Bosz couldn’t have asked for a better start from his team, who stormed into a 4-0 lead inside 25 minutes.

Schalke were on the ropes and the visiting fans must have feared a repeat of the 7-0 shellacking they received at the hands of their adversaries in 1966. Instead, the Royal Blues gave those supporters a glimmer of hope with two second-half goals within the space of five minutes to cut Dortmund’s lead in half.

It remained 4-2 until the 86th minute, when Daniel Caligiuri set nerves jangling around Signal Iduna Park. Dortmund were rattled and tried in vain to hold on, but Naldo’s bullet header in the fourth minute of stoppage time completed an astonishing comeback for Schalke.