As the 2011-12 season comes to a close, a time has come for us, at TheHardTackle, to reflect on the games that were special, for one reason or the other. Few games are remembered for what was at stake for the club (s), while others will never be forgotten just because of the manner in which those 90 minutes unfolded before the world.
Which, according to you, is the match of the season 2011-12?
Chelsea 4-1 Napoli
Under Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea had traveled to Napoli and lost 3-1 on the night and their European campaign was deemed all but over, considering the form the West London club was in and the form of the attacking trident of Napoli. Before the second leg at Stamdord Bridge, Villas-Boas was sacked and replaced by his assistant and club legend Roberto di Matteo. With their backs against the wall and with Napoli expected to score at least once, Chelsea knew that they’d need at least 3 goals to progress and that’s when the players decided to take their destiny in their own hands. The belief, resolve and determination, which later became a trademark of Chelsea’s Champions League-winning campaign, was first scene here. Drogba and Terry scored on either side of the half, before Gokhan Inler scored to tilt the balance in favor of the Italian side. Lampard then converted a penalty to take the game to extra-time, where Ivanovic scored the winner, to send Chelsea into the Quarter-finals.
Manchester City 3-2 Queens Park Rangers
In what will surely go down as one of the closest title races ever in the Premier League, the Manchester clubs went into the last day equal on points. To the City fans’ horror, the situation till the injury time in the game at the Etihad was that United, who’d won their game against Sunderland and with City losing 1-2 against QPR, were 5 minutes away from claiming their 20th Premiership title. Then Dzeko equalized, before Aguero scored the most significant goal in the history of Manchester City to snatch the title from United’s grasp, with seconds remaining on the clock, to ensue the kind of celebrations that hadn’t been seen in the blue half of Manchester for over four decades.
Athletic Bilbao 2-2 Barcelona
“It promised to be a fascinating clash. But promises are so often broken. This one was not. On Saturday afternoon, Guardiola had predicted a game that would be “fantastic, up and down, up and down”, and that was exactly what it was. From 1-0 to Athletic to 1-1, from 2-1 to Athletic to 2-2. A fourth 2-2 draw in eight away games for Barcelona but a different one this time – a game that Guardiola called “spectacular”. And he was not alone. Probably the game of the season so far“, Sid Lowe had written after the game.
By far the most thrilling game in La Liga this season, Barcelona’s trip to the Basque on a rainy evening will not be forgotten soon, just for the technical quality on display if not for how the action unfolded. The two teams will clash again in the Copa Del Rey final, and the world of football will certainly hope for a repeat.
Napoli 3-3 Juventus
Juventus were crowned the Serie A champions, as the Turin club finished unbeaten in a memorable campaign. Their unbeaten run was, however, severely threatened in Naples. Juventus came from 2-0 down in the first half, from 3-1 down in the second half to earn a draw against Napoli. At the San Paolo stadium, where Juve had struggled in the recent past, Goran Pandev scored twice and Marek Hamsek missed a retaken penalty before scoring off a header. But, their exploits couldn’t result in a victory, as Simone Pepe equalized late on to stretch Juventus’ lead over Milan to 2 points at the top of the table.
Lecce 3-4 AC Milan
In one of the games of the season in Serie A, Lecce had raced to a 3-0 lead by half-time against defending champions, AC Milan. In the second half, Milan desperately needed some inspiration and it came from the bench. Substitute Kevin-Prince Boateng grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring a sensational 14-minute hattrick to draw Milan level. With the momentum clearly in Milan’s corner, Mario Yepes scored the match-winning goal in the 83rd minute to help AC Milan move to fifth position in the table; at half-time, the away side had been in danger of dropping to the 16th spot.
As chosen by you, the match of the season is “Manchester City 3-2 QPR”.
Undoubtedly the greatest advertisement for the Premier League, this encounter defined everything football stands for. Drama, sending offs, tears, heartbreaks, jubilation and most importantly, goals aplenty. The last minute strike in the injury time from Sergio Aguero won City their first title in nearly four decades while broke hearts of the red half of Manchester.
While the other nominations too made for a wonderful viewing, the impact that this particular result had on the fortunes of a club makes it a very obvious choice for the best match of the season and our voters have echoed the same sentiments.
Chelsea’s 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge against Napoli came particularly close in fans’ voting. An incredible comeback it was by the Blues that lay the foundation for their eventual triumph in the Champions League.