Friday, December 31, 2010
ESPNsoccernet's Moments of the Year
ESPNsoccernet's journalists recall their best moment from the year just gone.
John Brewin: "It just had to be a World Cup moment from me and I was fortunate to attend some of the better matches in South Africa. I would number Slovakia beating Italy and Slovenia's 2-2 draw with USA as highlights, but the drama of the closing minutes and subsequent penalties during Uruguay v Ghana was unmatchable. Luis Suarez's handball, Asamoah Gyan's inexplicable spot-kick miss and then the same player's heroism in taking the first penalty of the shootout were heart-stopping in their intensity. Sebastian Abreu's deciding penalty capped it in nerveless style and Soccer City went so quiet that I am sure I heard it brush the back of the net. "
Dale Johnson: "For the last decade Sheffield Wednesday have dug themselves deeper and deeper into a financial pit, with another relegation to League One following the failed chairmanship of Lee Strafford sending the club to its knees. With administration just hours away, Milan Mandaric came in to buy the club for just £1 and secure a deal which removed all residual debt. For the first time Wednesday can now look forward without the fear of financial implosion. Restraints on transfer activities and the footballing budget are no more and the constant cloud hanging over Hillsborough is gone. There's still a long way to go with the club languishing in the third tier of the English game, but at least there is now hope of an eventual return to the Premier League."
Dominic Raynor: "As an Englishman, Germany's 4-1 humiliation of Fabio Capello's men in Bloemfontein was not a particularly enjoyable occasion, but it was, for me, the seminal moment of 2010. England's usual suspects strutted into the World Cup second round match expecting to vanquish Joachim Low's youthful side - only to be handed a footballing lesson by the likes of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller, who had been in the Under-21's just a few months earlier. The defeat finally prompted a complete rethink about England's youth policy, the future of the national team, and proved beyond doubt the fallibility of highly-paid manager Fabio Capello. Throw in Frank Lampard's goal that was incorrectly disallowed (and the thoughts of what might have been if England had gone in level at 2-2 at half-time) and it all makes for a match that is difficult to forget."
Jon Carter: "Lionel Messi's four goals, against my own side Arsenal in the Champions League, was a joy to behold, if one that was also hard to stomach. At the Emirates, Barcelona's mesmeric passing was countered by some unusually strong defending from the Gunners, but at the Nou Camp, Messi took over. As a fan of attacking football it was something I will never forget; that it happened against the team closest to my heart may just burn the image into my brain. On top of the world on that day, it would have been easy to hear claims that Messi is the greatest of all time."
Robin Hackett: "Twice winners of the European Cup but having spent the last decade outside the top-flight, Nottingham Forest looked to be on their way back to the big time as they put together a 19-match unbeaten run between September and January last season.
The pinnacle came at The Hawthorns on January 8. Sitting third in the table, they travelled to second-placed West Brom and played them off the park. Leading 1-0 going into the second half, they scored two quickfire goals in the 53rd and 56th minutes to put the game beyond reach. Radoslaw Majewski's strike, for 2-0, was the highlight: widely compared to Marco van Basten's famous volley, it showed a talented team playing with extreme confidence and seemingly destined for promotion.
A couple of weeks later, a defeat to arch-rivals Derby completely derailed a season that ended with play-off defeat to Blackpool. Never mind."
Tom Adams: "Ghana v Uruguay, World Cup quarter-final. In a hectic, breathless conclusion to a fascinating contest in Johannesburg, the world was treated to a display of infamy, despair and near-redemption. Luis Suarez, unfairly, became a global villain when handballing off the line in the dying seconds of extra-time, only for Asamoah Gyan to sky his penalty with the last kick of the game. Gyan showed incredible spirit to take, and score, Ghana's first spot-kick in the shoot-out, but Uruguay would triumph and Suarez was lifted onto the shoulders of his grateful team-mates after the shooutout had concluded. Incredible drama."
Mark Lomas: "Barcelona have continued to make fans drool with their inimitable brand of breathtaking, attacking football and Lionel Messi has continued to be a the classy conductor of football's most exciting orchestra. Messi's influence was never more obvious in 2010 than when his four-goal haul obliterated Arsenal's Champions League hopes in April, with each strike - from his delightful chip over Manuel Almunia to his slaloming run and finish - an emphatic reminder of why he remains peerless as the greatest player on earth."