F365's Top Ten Title Finishes

With the title races in both England and Spain looking like they might go right to the wire, Daniel Storey gives you his top ten title finishes. Think final day madness and mayhem...

Last Updated: 08/04/14 at 12:31 Post Comment

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10) Italian Serie A, 1963/64
Only one of the top five European leagues has ever been decided by a one-off play-off match, and that is Italy's Serie A. The last time it occurred was in 1963/4, when Bologna and Inter were both level on 54 points after 34 matches.

With goal difference not used as a measure to split sides, both teams were forced to travel to Rome in early June for a cup final-style occasion to decide the destiny of the Scudetto. Bologna won the match 2-0 and took the crown. Given that the Bolognese would have prevailed on goal difference too, it seems that justice was done.

9) English Premier League, 1994/5
United fans aren't going to appreciate this, but their last-day falter at the hands of Blackburn is the first of two entries in which they have been left heartbroken. Still, they've won enough.

Blackburn went into their final-day fixture at Anfield two points ahead of United. However, hoping to lead Rovers to their first trophy since 1928, Kenny Dalglish saw things fall apart as Liverpool beat them 2-1.

That left United needing to beat West Ham to take Blackburn's lead at the last possible moment, but they could only stutter to a 1-1 draw, and Dalglish's face changed from crestfallen gloom to elation upon hearing the news.

Still, arguably the biggest news was Nottingham Forest finishing third. Not that I'm biased.

8) Polish Ekstraklasa, 1996/7
Not on the final day, but no less impressive a finish. Before the penultimate fixture of the season (in which the two teams would face each other) Widzew Lodz led Legia Warsaw by a single point, and therefore it became a winner (or drawer, in the case of Widzew) takes all match.

After 87 minutes, Warsaw led 2-0 and had one hand on the trophy, before Slavomir Majak scored for Widzew, with Dariusz Gesior then managing to get an equaliser in stoppage time to give Lodz the initiative.

The drama didn't end there. In the final minute of added time Legia managed to score their required winner, only for the referee to disallow the goal. Whilst the protests were continuing, Widzew broke to make it 3-2 and thus clinch the title. Cue the mother of all protests from the Legia players and staff.

7) Spanish La Liga, 2006/7
Thanks to an extended post-World Cup season and a short interruption caused by the Copa Catalunya, the 2006/7 La Liga season ran from August 26 to June 17, and the title race between Real Madrid and Barcelona went right to the wire.

Barcelona were defending champions and led the way for much of the season. However, their form started to tail off from January onwards, allowing Fabio Capello's Real to creep up alongside them. On the final day, both teams had 76 points, but Real's better head-to-head record mean that they would win if points were level. Real Mallorca threatened to spoil the party, leading 1-0 at the Bernabeu with 20 minutes remaining, but goals from Mohamadou Diarra and a brace from Jose Antonio Reyes sealed the title win.

Real's victory was even more astonishing when you consider that on the penultimate matchday of the season, Capello's side had been 2-1 down and Barcelona led 2-1 going into stoppage time. Late equalisers were scored in both matches.

6) Scottish Premier League, 2004/5
Some of our readers may well be aware of a feisty little rivalry between two Scottish clubs named Celtic and Rangers, both hailing from the same beautiful city of Glasgow. In May 2005, this became an enmity with bells on, as both city rivals entered the final day with a chance of lifting the Premier League crown.

Celtic were leading by two clear points, and both sides were ahead 1-0 with three minutes to play in their respective matches, when Motherwell's Scott McDonald equalised at Fir Park. As Celtic then pushed for a required winner (now behind Rangers on goal difference), McDonald unbelievably scored again. With news filtering through to Easter Road, where Rangers were playing Hibs, the away side played out the final minutes and snatched the title from their old foe.

5) Norwegian Tippelagen, 2004
Possibly the closest title finish in history. Rosenborg and Valerenga were the two clubs in question, and incredibly went into the final day level on both points and goal difference.

Rosenborg managed to beat Lyn Oslo 4-1 at home, but after an injury delay at Valerenga's match against Stabaek with the home side 3-0 up, Valerenga effectively had six minutes to try and get the crucial goal to win the title on goal difference with Rosenborg watching, praying that they wouldn't.

Stabaek 'held on', meaning that Rosenborg won the title on goals scored after the most nervous wait imaginable.

4) Dutch Eredivisie, 2006/07
The 2006/07 season in the Netherlands was almost unprecedented in that three teams (AZ Alkmaar, Ajax and PSV) were all tied on 72 points, with the top three separated in that respective order by goal difference.

Alkmaar managed to ruin their own chances by losing 3-2 to Excelsior Rotterdam, leaving Ajax and PSV to fight for the title. Ajax won 2-0 at Willem II, their last goal coming in the 69th minute to leave them with a goal difference of +49.

PSV however, somehow managed to spoil the party, scoring three second-half goals to secure a 5-1 win against Vitesse to end on a goal difference of +50. That's just ridiculous.

3) English Premier League, 2011/12
The one you have presumably been waiting for, still impossible to watch as a relative neutral without the hairs going up on the back of the neck.

All looked lost for City in their pursuit of their first title when they sat 2-1 behind at home to ten-man QPR with 90 minutes on the clock. What then followed was the stuff of (Martin Tyler's naughty) dreams, Edin Dzeko's header timed at 91:15 minutes before Sergio Aguero drove past Nedum Onuoha and finished after 93:20. Cue madness. 13 seconds after the final whistle had blown on Manchester United's season, came their worst Premier League moment.

Football (and indeed all sport) is at its most wonderful when you can re-watch something over and over with complete knowledge of all that will unfold, and yet still be laboured with the tight feeling in the stomach and the lump in the throat. This has that in spades.

2) German Bundesliga, 2000/01
Bayern Munich required only a draw away at Hamburg in order to win the 2001 Bundesliga, going into the final day three points ahead of Schalke in second place.

Schalke won their home game against Unterhaching 5-3, meaning all eyes turned to the Volksparkstadion, where Bayern were drawing 0-0. In injury time, Sergej Barbarez put Hamburg in front to the delight of the Schalke fans, who stormed the pitch in glee to celebrate.

Then, in the final minute of added time, Hamburg goalkeeper Mathias Schober picked up a backpass, and Patrik Andersson lashed home the resultant indirect free-kick, breaking Schalke hearts and stopping celebrations immediately. If you still want another twist, how about this: goalkeeper Schober was actually on loan at Hamburg from Schalke. He was sold that summer, funnily enough.

1) English Division One, 1988/89
The one to rule over all others, and always will. There isn't even any point trying to describe it, so just watch this, the ten minutes of sporting and cinematic history courtesy of Nick Hornby, Colin Firth and Fever Pitch.

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