Jurgen Klopp has recently pointed out fans have been leaving Anfield before full-time. It was a cry for support to the final whistle and perhaps a subtle dig. Liverpool fans aren’t the only ones that head for the exits prematurely.
Manchester United fans can’t sit through the full 90 minutes if the result is going against them, especially if it’s a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of neighbours Manchester City. The Citizens themselves have been practising fire drills not long after the 80 minute mark recently. Those pictures of empty seats at the Etihad are often conveniently taken late on.
Here we take a look at games that seemed over or where fans had given up hope of a last minute goal. A few famous games have been omitted, like Nayim chipping David Seaman in the final minute of extra time in the 1995 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final.
It was an unforgettable moment, clear proof how a game’s never over, but none of the fans that day were leaving the stadium. The world was poised for penalties until Nayim got his lob on and left Seaman trailing back to the gaping hole.
What follows is ten of the best football comebacks and late shocks…
When Robert Taylor put Gillingham 2-0 up in the 87th minute of the 1999 Division Two Play-Off final at Wembley stadium, even the most hardened City fans felt the world open up. The pain of disappointment when they suffered relegation to the third tier had been seen at the lowest point City could fall to. Facing another year there after a trip to Wembley picked away at the still open sore and invited in even more despair.
Citizens started to trickle out of the famous old stadium, deflated and seemingly defeated. Then “Super” Kevin Horlock pulled a goal back in the 90th minute and for those that remained a flicker of hope reappeared.
After five minutes of tense play, Paul Dickov grabbed an unlikely City equaliser. His sliding celebration epitomised the cries of all the fans of the Manchester club. Those that had left attempted to get back to seats, the ones that remained saw City clinch promotion thanks to Nicky Weaver’s heroics in the subsequent penalty shoot-out.
The last minute turnaround was the first, vital, step in Manchester City’s journey back to the Premier League. Had they lost to Gillingham that day they would have probably become Division Two’s version of Leeds, and there’d have been no Sheikh Mansour and all that followed.
The next match on the list shows how one incident can totally change a game. Arsenal, away from home playing Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United, found themselves three goals clear after just ten minutes. By the end of the first half they added another and no one would have been blamed for thinking the contest was over.
That was until Abou Diaby got sent off for losing his head and pushing Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan. Barton was criticised for inciting trouble but Diaby should have known better. Barton scored twice from the spot, with Leon Best getting one in between those strikes, and suddenly the game was on.
The confidence visibly drained away from Arsenal and Cheik Tiote put an end to their misery by removing any uncertainty and grabbed an 87th minute equaliser.
When Tottenham Hotspur walked in 3-0 up against Manchester United in their 2001 Premier League encounter at White Hart Lane, they were deserving of the lead. For 45 minutes they’d outplayed United and the wide margin was justified.
During half-time Alex Ferguson must have given one of his best team-talks while the Spurs dressing room switched off. The following half saw a complete role-reversal. United gave a master-class, starting with an Andy Cole goal within a minute of the restart.
When Ruud Van Nistelrooy equalised in the 72nd minute there was only going to be one winner. Veron and Beckham added the gloss to a remarkable turnaround.
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. At half-time during their FA Fourth Round replay against Manchester City, Tottenham once again found themselves 3-0 to the good against a side from Greater Manchester.
To ease any highly unlikely fears, City midfielder Joey Barton got himself sent off for dissent on 45 minutes. Spurs would have to be really unlucky to be pegged back at this point.
Well, twenty minutes after Sylvain Distin had scored what looked like a consolation goal, City received some good luck when a Paul Bosvelt shot took a nasty deflection. Then Shaun Wright-Philips scored a chipped goal over Casey Keller, with cries of offside.
The ground prepared for an unexpected period of extra time. It never came. Jon Macken got on the end of a deep cross as he made his way into the box, he headed to the far corner and scored a shock winner.
It was his most memorable moment for the club and gave the FA Cup another moment of magic.
The 2006 FA Cup showcase has been renamed ‘The Gerrard Final’ in honour of the protagonist that turned around his team’s fortunes. Within thirty minutes Liverpool found themselves 2-0 down. Djibril Cisse did pull one back within five minutes but the first half very much remained in West Ham’s hands.
Liverpool captain Gerrard managed to get an equaliser on the 54th minute but it lasted less than ten minutes before West Ham deservedly went ahead once again with a Paul Konchesky goal.
The Hammers seemed to have hung on, Gerrard even went down with cramp, but mustering up a moment of excellence, he half-volleyed a West Ham clearance from 35 yards out to take the game to extra time.
Liverpool won the game on penalties but the West Ham players were broken in their minds the minute Gerrard’s 87th minute equaliser hit the net.
The next one is a throwback to when the nation was fully invested in England internationals. The one in question was a World Cup qualifier against Greece at Old
For the Three Lions to progress they needed a draw and after 68 minutes Teddy Sheringham grabbed an equaliser and the country breathed a sigh of relief – for a whole minute. England fell behind again and there was twenty minutes of agony as it appeared Sven Goran Eriksson’s men would need to go through the play-off route and face Ukraine.
Cometh the hour, cometh Beckham. Deep into injury time, and having already wasted five long range free kicks, he stepped up for one final effort. What followed was one of the most iconic Beckham goals, perhaps his best ever in an England shirt.
Liverpool again and another 3-3. This time it wasn’t about exchanging goals toward a climax, by half-time they were 3-0 down against European royalty on the grandest stage of all. But Liverpool are no paupers on the continent and the second half saw a comeback fit for a king.
Gerrard’s role this time was to start the fightback, he scored in the 54th minute and by the 59th Smicer and Alonso had drawn the Merseysiders level. Momentum is like an avalanche and confidence can be crushed by it. When the Milan ‘keeper, Dida, made a mess of Smicer’s long range effort, allowing Liverpool to get their second, the tone of the tie changed.
By extra time Milan had lost their heads and some heroics from Jerzy Dudek ensured Liverpool won the European Cup for the fifth time, a feat they rarely mention.
Friday night matches and last minute title deciders may sound like a modern invention but the 26th May 1989 combined both of these elements in the old First Division.
It was between title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield. The fixture had been rearranged after the original April meeting was cancelled due to the Hillsborough disaster. The only room for it was after the FA Cup final, which Liverpool won after beating Everton.
The Reds came into the last game, three points clear and looking for a league and cup double. For the Gunners to upset them they needed to win by two goals, this would give them the title on goals scored.
Alan Smith grabbed a goal for the London side after 52 minutes and a sense of foreboding came over Anfield. What followed was an exercise in hanging on until Arsenal manager George Graham made attacking substitutions and opened his team up to the counter attack.
Liverpool ran the clock down and all seemed lost for Arsenal. Lee Dixon played a long ball to Smith who found Michael Thomas. He charged toward Bruce Grobbelaar’s net and slotted in Arsenal’s second, with 25 seconds left on the clock.
The 1999 Champions League final is remembered as the most famous comeback in European finals history and the peak of Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United team.
Mario Basler gave the German side a lead after 6 minutes with a swerving free kick. It didn’t allow them to take control of the tie, though. Manchester United had most of the possession but couldn’t carve out any decent chances. The pre-match fear they’d miss the suspended duo of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes began to grow.
The second half saw a lively Bayern side and they even hit the woodwork. There was a feeling the game was starting to slip from United’s grasp.
Then, as the game entered three minutes of injury time, the Red Devils won a corner that even Peter Schmeichel went up for. It was only cleared as far as Ryan Giggs whose poor attempt at goal found Teddy Sheringham, he promptly scored. United were back in the game and heading to extra time.
But Ferguson’s men smelt blood and within 30 seconds forced another corner. With extra time assured Schmeichel stayed in his own area this time. He wasn’t needed, the ball found Sheringham again, this time he headed across goal. The baby-faced assassin Ole Gunnar Solskjaer smashed the ball into the top of the net.
The Bayern players were rocked so hard some couldn’t even stand to see out the remaining seconds and United completed an historic treble.
Heading into the final 90 minutes of the season all Manchester City needed to do was win at home to QPR to ensure their first top flight title in 44 years. This would be enough to to pip Manchester United on goal difference unless the Red Devils produced a cricket score at the Stadium of Light. If United failed to pick up the expected victory, City only had to match the result.
Despite Wayne Rooney scoring after 20 mins against Sunderland, placing United top of the live table by two points, there was still no need to worry at the Etihad. This was highlighted almost 20 minutes later when Pablo Zabaleta scored, starting scenes of premature celebration.
But it wouldn’t be City if they did things the easy way. A few minutes into the second half and Djibril Cisse grabbed the battling QPR a leveller. Joey Barton added to the heightened sense of occasion by getting sent off, not content clashing with just Carlos Tevez, the former City man kicked out at Sergio Aguero before eyeing up Vincent Kompany. It took Micah Richards to calm the situation.
The extra man only served to galvanise The Hoops and Jamie Mackie compounded the misery by putting them ahead.
At the 90 minute mark Manchester United were all smiles in Sunderland. They had done their bit and just had to sit out whatever injury time was left in Manchester before celebrating an unlikely title win.
Enter Edin Dzeko. From a feeling of despair came hope and inevitability. He scored two minutes into added time and those City fans that had remained dared to believe again. Moments later Mario Balotelli made the most important assist of his career, from a grounded position he scrambled the ball to Sergio Aguero.
Amid the mayhem, with 93:20 on the clock, the Argentine found the net. He moved forwards as if inspired and created the Premier League’s defining moment. The Etihad erupted and the term ‘Typical City’ changed its meaning forever.