Ranked! FourFourTwo's 50 best games of the decade
10. Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham (Premier League 2015/16)
Eden Hazard will always be a popular figure in Leicester. The Belgian’s late equaliser here handed the Premier League title to Claudio Ranieri’s side, many members of whom were watching the action unfold at Jamie Vardy’s house. For a long while, however, it looked as if the champagne bottles would have to remain unopened.
Tottenham knew that only a win would do to keep their title hopes alive, and an accomplished first-half performance saw them enter the away dressing room at the interval with a 2-0 lead.
Chelsea had nothing tangible to play for but were suitably motivated to stop their London rivals’ charge for the championship. That showed in a fiery second period which numerous fouls and yellow cards, as well as Erik Lamela standing on Cesc Fabregas’ hand and Mousa Dembele planting his fingers in Diego Costa’s eye. More significantly, Gary Cahill and Hazard scored to wipe out Tottenham’s lead and kick-start the celebrations at casa de Vardy.
9. Newcastle 4-4 Arsenal (Premier League 2010/11)
A seven-match unbeaten run had brought Arsenal back into the title race by the start of February 2011. Newcastle, conversely, were without a win in three games and potentially in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle despite having occupied a place in the top five a few months prior.
A dominant first-half display meant Arsene Wenger’s side looked set to ramp up the pressure further on Manchester United, who led the league by five points but weren’t in action until later that day. The Gunners were 3-0 up after just 10 minutes, with Robin van Persie adding a fourth shortly after the midway point of the first half.
Booed off at the break, pride restoration was the only item on the agenda for Newcastle in the second half. Despite Abou Diaby’s red card, it took the hosts until the 68th minute to get on the scoresheet, Joey Barton converting a penalty to give the Magpies a glimmer. Leon Best reduced the arrears further, before another Barton spot-kick left Arsenal clinging on. They couldn’t quite manage it, Cheick Tiote equalising with a superb volley to send St James’ Park delirious.
8. Barcelona 1-0 Inter Milan (Champions League 2009/10)
It’s somewhat discordant that the most famous game of serial trophy-winner Jose Mourinho’s career ended in defeat. In fact, a 1-0 loss at the Camp Nou secured an aggregate victory for Inter in this Champions League semi-final, and represented a personal and tactical triumph for a manager who had increasingly come to define himself in opposition to Barcelona.
Inter led 3-1 from the first leg but found themselves up against it early on in Catalonia, as Thiago Motta was sent off after 28 minutes. Mourinho hastily rearranged his side, who proceeded to deliver an outstanding bend-not-break defensive performance to keep Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring team at bay.
Employing the lesser-spotted 4-5-0 formation, Inter restricted Barcelona to very few clear-cut chances, mouse frustrating cat. Gerard Pique eventually broke their resistance in the 84th minute, but it was too little, too late and Inter deservedly reached the final after one of the greatest defensive displays in Champions League history.
7. Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea (Champions League 2011/12)
Chelsea held a slender 1-0 lead heading into the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. That represented an excellent result at Stamford Bridge, but most onlookers felt it wouldn’t be enough to prevent the European champions reaching another final in front of their own fans.
That feeling intensified following an inauspicious three-minute spell in the first half that saw Sergio Busquets open the scoring and John Terry sent off for mindlessly kneeing Alexis Sanchez off the ball. Andres Iniesta then doubled the hosts’ lead, but a glorious Ramires chip gave Chelsea a vital away goal on the stroke of half-time.
Barcelona now needed one more to secure passage to the final, and duly dominated possession in the second half. But Lionel Messi crashed a penalty off the crossbar and Sanchez, Isaac Cuenca and Busquets all missed chances of their own, as Pep Guardiola’s side became increasingly desperate as time ticked away. Resisting the kitchen sink, Chelsea stood firm before launching a decisive breakaway in injury time, Fernando Torres rounding Victor Valdes to send the Blues through.
6. Liverpool 4-3 Borussia Dortmund (Europa League 2015/16)
When Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck inside 10 minutes at Anfield, Liverpool suddenly needed three goals without reply to advance to the Europa League semi-finals. Against a Borussia Dortmund team who thrived on the counter-attack, that looked like an onerous task.
Divock Origi got the hosts started in the 48th minute, but Marco Reus put Dortmund three goals ahead for a second time shortly before the hour mark to extinguish the Anfield roar.
The lull was only temporary. The home fans had something to cheer when Philippe Coutinho found the bottom corner in the 66th minute, and they were positively ecstatic when Mamadou Sakho then stooped to head home from a Coutinho corner. The visitors still held the advantage on away goals, but Dejan Lovren completed an outstanding comeback in stoppage time, scoring Liverpool’s fourth to leave Dortmund distraught.
5. Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona (La Liga 2016/17)
El Clasico hasn’t always delivered this decade, the product sometimes failing to live up to the hype, but this April 2017 encounter was a bona fide classic. Three points clear at the top of La Liga having played one game fewer, Real Madrid knew that victory here would set them on the path towards a first title since 2012. Defeat, though, would see them drop down to second. The stakes could hardly have been higher.
Casemiro gave Madrid the lead after Sergio Ramos’ shot came off the post, but Lionel Messi drew Barcelona level after some fabulous footwork set him free in the box. It remained 1-1 deep into the second half, but the visitors’ gradual screw-turning brought its reward in the 73rd minute, Ivan Rakitic firing a fine left-footed strike past Keylor Navas.
Madrid immediately pushed forward in search of an equaliser and were rewarded with five minutes left to play, James Rodriguez turning home Marcelo’s cross at the near post. That left Barcelona’s title chances hanging by a thread but Messi still had one more piece of magic in his locker, the Argentine genius popping up in the second minute of stoppage time to score the game’s decisive fifth from the edge of the box.
4. Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (Champions League 2016/17)
It was a coming-of-age performance. PSG had long been desperate to turn their domestic dominance into European supremacy, and a 4-0 thrashing of Barcelona in the first leg of this last-16 clash was an ideal way to announce their arrival on the continental stage.
It was hard to see a way back for Ernesto Valverde’s side, particularly after they initially failed to add to Luis Suarez’s third-minute goal. Yet a Layvin Kurzawa own goal shortly before half-time altered the dynamic, and Barcelona were now just one behind on aggregate when Suarez scored a penalty early in the second period.
PSG were on the ropes, but Edinson Cavani’s strike just after the hour changed everything: suddenly Barcelona needed six. They still hadn’t added to their score 25 minutes later, but Neymar’s 88th-minute effort gave the hosts a glimmer of hope. The Brazilian then converted a penalty against his future employers, before delivering the free-kick that was latched on to by Sergi Roberto for a sensational aggregate winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
3. Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid (La Liga 2010/11)
The apex of Pep Guardiola’s four-year tenure as Barcelona manager came against their bitter rivals. The Blaugrana were out of this world on this November night in 2010, thrashing Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid en route to another La Liga title.
Somewhat surprisingly given his defence-minded reputation, Mourinho stuck with his usual starting XI and fielded Xabi Alonso as Madrid’s deepest midfielder and Mesut Ozil at No.10. It didn’t work. Barcelona took the lead through Xavi Hernandez in the 10th minute and soon found themselves further ahead, Pedro Rodriguez tapping home after David Villa had been denied.
The exhibition continued in the second half, as Madrid proved unable to disrupt Barcelona’s mesmerising passing triangles. A quick-fire Villa brace made it 4-0 before the hour mark, and the now-forgotten Jeffren Suarez even got in on the act in injury time. “I stood up and applauded what I was seeing,” Wayne Rooney later revealed. “It was the best performance I’ve ever seen.”
2. Manchester City 3-2 Queens Park Rangers (Premier League 2011/12)
Manchester City fans of a certain vintage could happily reel off countless examples of their side snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but those days appeared long behind the title-chasing team of 2011/12. Relegation-threatened opponents were the only thing between Roberto Mancini’s men and the Premier League, and there was no way such a star-studded side would mess it up.
But mess it up they very nearly did. City went 1-0 up through Pablo Zabaleta and seemed to be cruising to victory, only for Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie to turn the game on its head despite the sending-off of QPR midfielder Joey Barton. Suddenly Manchester United were on course to win the title, unless City could score twice in the final 34 minutes.
They couldn’t. QPR still led 2-1 as the clock ticked into stoppage time, when City belatedly sprang into life. Edin Dzeko gave the hosts a lifeline, before Sergio Aguero sparked the wildest celebrations the Etihad Stadium has ever seen by scoring a last-gasp winner. For the first time in 44 years, the title belonged to City.
1. Brazil 1-7 Germany (World Cup 2014)
It was impossible not to be swept up in the emotion of the occasion whenever Brazilian players and fans sang the final verse of their national anthem acapella before the hosts’ 2014 World Cup matches. In the end, though, passion and sentimentality were part of the reason for the Selecao’s undoing, as a ruthless, surgical Germany side swept them aside in this earth-shattering semi-final.
Robbed of the injured Neymar - whose shirt was held aloft by Julio Cesar and David Luiz as part of a bizarre pre-game public mourning - Brazil imploded in spectacular fashion. Thomas Muller edged Germany ahead after being left unmarked from a corner before a jaw-dropping six-minute spell brought four more goals for Joachim Low’s side, including the strike that saw Miroslav Klose overtake Ronaldo as the World Cup’s highest all-time scorer, pouring salt into gaping Brazilian wounds.
Andre Schurrle got in on the act after the break, before Oscar scored what cannot even be termed a consolation in the 90th minute. Brazil had been brutally humiliated on their own soil, comprehensively dismantled by a Germany side which didn’t even have to be at its best to register a record victory for a World Cup semi-final.
This was, quite simply, the most shocking result in the tournament’s history; a savage, seismic shellacking that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed history unfolding before their eyes.
While you're here, why not take advantage of our brilliant subscribers' offer? Get the game's greatest stories and best journalism direct to your door for only £9.50 every quarter – that's roughly £2.90 per issue. Cheers!