Looking back and reflecting on the 2017/18 season as it comes towards its conclusion, all of the top 5 leagues in Europe seem to be wrapped up with clear champions and whether these leagues have been a one horse race or not, that hasn’t stopped them from giving us some fantastic matches this season. I’m going to be looking back on my top 10 most exciting, thrilling and entertaining matches of the season which include comebacks, last minute winners and a whole lot more drama.
10) Lyon 3-2 AS Monaco (Ligue 1)
When these two sides met early this season, Fekir took the game by the scruff of the neck as any good captain should. Fekir set up Mariano Diaz for the opener early on but this was soon cancelled out by a Rony Lopes equaliser 6 minutes later. Another 6 went by and Fekir put his team back on front only for Monaco to snatch an equaliser 10 minutes later. The fast paced game soon balanced out with Lyon dominating possession but no shortage of shots from either side. The game looked to be heading for a draw before Fekir grabbed a late winner in the 5th minute of stoppage time to grab 3 valuable points for his side.
9) Real Sociedad 4-4 Real Betis (La Liga Santander)
Real Betis opened the scoring early on away from home with Sanabria in the 6th minute but the hosts responded only a few minutes later through Willian Jose to level it at 1-1. 10 minutes later, the hosts had turned the game on its head and Oyarzabal had Sociedad in front only for that advantage to be cancelled out two minutes later through Zouhair Feddal. Just after the restart, Betis went back into the lead through Joaquin but the same pattern ensued with an equaliser from Prieto not too long after. 3-3. Anyone’s game. In the 84th minute, super sub Leon must have thought he’d won the game for the away team putting Betis again for a third time but two minutes later the hosts put a stop to the madness with an 86th minute equaliser from a Diego Llorente bullet header to end the thrilling contest at 4-4.
8) Chelsea 3-3 Roma (UEFA Champions League Group Stage)
Chelsea against Roma in the group stage was a game to remember. Chelsea and Atletico had been tipped to go through but with Chelsea out and Atletico in the Europa League, to everyone’s surprise it’s Roma who have found themselves in the Champions League semi finals draw. David Luiz got Chelsea started with a brilliant effort from outside the box. A slightly fortunate deflection put the ball into the path of Chelsea talisman, Eden Hazard to put the hosts 2 in front. Kolarov then went on a solo effort, getting into the box before releasing a rocket of a shot past Courtois, thanks to a slight deflection. A Van Persie-esque volley from Dzeko was an equaliser and a possible contender for goal of the season. An excellently timed run and picture perfect finish but Roma back on level terms but they weren’t done yet. The big man scored again for Roma, this time a header from a set piece putting the away side up 2-3 however the contest wasn’t done yet. Eden Hazard popped up with a valuable equaliser so the two sides shared the points in a fantastic contest.
7) Arsenal 4-3 Leicester (Premier League)
The Premier League returned with a bang. Big money signing Alexandre Lacazette started his first game and made it one to remember with an opener within 90 seconds at the Etihad. It meant nothing though when Shinji Okazaki rose up highest to grab a 5th minute equaliser before his fellow striker Vardy put the visitors ahead. Danny Welbeck of all people then popped up with the equaliser but Vardy wasn’t phased and stamped his authority down once more with a flicked on header at the near post to make it 2-3. Aaron Ramsey grabbed another equaliser for the Gunners with just 7 minutes remaining before Olivier Giroud, who has since moved on to bigger and better things on the Chelsea bench, won it for his side with a powerful header.
6) Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United (Premier League)
Big game, big pressure. The usual words used to describe a Manchester Derby but how about going away to your bitter rivals and if you lose, they’re crowned as Premier League champions. With 45 minutes gone, Manchester City seemed to have their hands on another Premier League trophy but some Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba magic saved United from embarrassment in a classic Manchester derby. The man for a big occassion, Vincent Kompany, put City ahead with a powerful header from a corner before terrific skill and agility from Ilkay Gundogan doubled their advantage. Raheem Sterling went on to miss another 3 big chances before being denied of a tap in thanks to an Ashley Young handball which he managed to get away with. Pogba put them back into the game in the second half with a wonderful team goal before nodding home from close range a couple minutes later. Chris Smalling made no mistake with his volley putting the visitors in a 3-2 lead after being 2-0 down. A horror challenge from Ashley Young on Sergio Aguero was incorrectly waved off by the official which meant City fans would have to wait another week before getting their hands on a well deserved trophy.
5) Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City (Premier League)
Manchester City arrived at Anfield unbeaten in the Premier League but they would soon find out how difficult it is to play away to Liverpool when the crowd gets right behind the players. The atmosphere was electric and an early strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put the hosts ahead with just 8 minutes gone. A mistake from Gomez allowed Sane in for the equaliser just before half-time but Liverpool weren’t phased. They started the second half confidently and quickly began a typical rampage with goals from Firmino, Mane and Salah putting the hosts into a commanding 4-1 lead with 20 minutes remaining. A goal from Bernardo Silva appeared to be just a consolation but when Gundogan struck a few minutes later, the game sprang into action. Liverpool held on and earned a valuable victory against an impressive Premier League side.
4) Sevilla 3-3 Liverpool (UEFA Champions League Group Sta)
Manchester City featured twice in a row, and now Liverpool do too. Seeking revenge for their 2016 Europa League heartbreak, Liverpool stormed ahead in Sevilla, only to crumble in the second half to remind Liverpool fans of some historic results in European competitions, one down in Turkey I seem to recall. Firmino put the visitors up front with a well-worked corner routine that was so well done that they tried it again and it worked again through Mane. Liverpool went into a convincing 2-0 lead which quickly became 3 when Firmino put the ball into an empty net with a no-look finish. Sevilla clawed back into it though, two goals from Ben Yedder and then a last minute equaliser from Pizarro brought familiar pain back to Liverpool players but it hasn’t hurt them too much as they look for glory in the semi finals.
3) Koln 3-4 Freiburg (Bundesliga)
A snowy game meant red lines in the Bundesliga and Koln seemed to enjoy the conditions or the lines, it wasn’t clear which one but a 3-0 lead looked to have put them out of sight. However, Freiburg went one better than Sevilla and went on to win the game in the most dramatic fashion. Klunter put the hosts into an advantage which was doubled 8 minutes later through a Guirassy penalty in the 16th minute. A Stanko own goal put salt in the wounds with a 3-0 scoreline after just 29 minutes but Freiburg put up a fight. Nils Peterson scored one to restore hope before the break. A Janik Haberer finish brought the game back to life and in the 90th minute, controversy began. Peterson was handed a penalty to equalise the game and he converted comfortably making it 3-3 but the referee added to the drama with another penalty 5 minutes later. Peterson stepped up once more and not only did he win the game for his team but he completed his hattrick. An outrageous game.
2) Dortmund 4-4 Schalke (Bundesliga)
A derby like no other. For a league that seems to have a clear winner every year, it certainly isn’t short of entertainment. Dortmund went 1-0 through Aubameyang early on, it didn’t take long for that to double through a Stambouli own goal. Aubameyang then set up Gotze for a Dortmund third and in the 23rd minute it was 4. A fantastic volley from Guerriero made it 4-0 in just over 20 minutes and surely put this victory beyond any reasonable doubt. Wrong. After 60 minutes, Burgstaller finally restored some dignity for Schalke with a looping header to make it 4-1. In a matter of minutes it was 4-2 through Harit in the 65th minute but they weren’t done yet. Aubameyang soon saw red and Schalke had the green light to go all in without the danger of Aubameyang on the counter. This paid off, Caliguiri made it 4-3 in the 85th minute with Schalke now full of hope and Dortmund holding on for their lives. In the 4th minute of 7 added onto the 90, Schalke’s big Brazilian centre back pulled off the impossible. Naldo made it 4-4 to conclude what was possibly one of the greatest Bundesliga games of all time.
1) Roma* 3-0 (4-4) Barcelona (UEFA Champions League Quarter Finals)
How do you top a recovery from 4-0 down away from home in a local derby. In truth, it might be impossible in the eyes of many readers but in my opinion what Roma did across the two legs against the Catalan giants was outstanding and deserves all the recognition it’s getting. No team finds it easy at the Camp Nou and Roma found that out the hard way suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Messi & Co. Dzeko’s away goal in the 80th minute appeared to be a mere consolation but as the 2nd leg unfolded, it proved to be quite possibly the most valuable goal of his career. He went on to open the scoring in the 2nd leg with Roma needing a near impossible 3-0 win over Barcelona but a De Rossi penalty made it possible. 2-0 with minutes remaining and up stepped Manolas with a historic goal. Barca’s gain of their PSG comeback was now their own pain as Roma shocked them with a courageous effort to advance into the semi finals alongside fellow dark horses Liverpool. Statistically, it isn’t as good as Schalke’s comeback but it’s all about context, to do it on the big stage up against some of the world’s best is a feat of insanity. Fair play Roma, fair play.
Which others matches should have been included in this list? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image credit Youtube