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Top 10 Sporting Moments of 2019

Posted on December 31, 2019

Champions League Semi-Final (May) – Delirium at Anfield and Amsterdam

Nobody considered the possibility of an all English Champions League final.  Liverpool were trailing the mighty Barcelona 3-0 from the first leg at the Nou Camp.  Not only were they losing by three clear goals, they also hadn’t managed to get the all-important away goal.  This meant if Barca scored one goal at Anfield, Liverpool would have to score at least 5 goals.  Even with the magic and mystique of Anfield behind them, not even Liverpool could come back from this scoreline.

Spurs playing in their stunning new stadium, had lost their home leg 1-0 to the young and exceptional Ajax team.  Ajax were taking the Champions League by storm and had beaten Juventus et Ronaldo in the Quarter-Finals.  They then defeated the Champion’s League winners of the previous two years, Real Madrid, in the last 16.

Liverpool started the game with a significantly weakened team.  Their talisman Mo Salah was injured, as was the silky Brazilian striker Robert Firmino.  They did however have the expectant Anfield crowd behind them, who are as good as an extra man on the pitch.  Origi scored within seven minutes to take the lead.  The game changed significantly in a 2-minute spell between 54 and 56 minutes.  Georgina Wijnaldum scored two magnificent goals to level the tie on aggregate.

With 11 minutes left on the clock, the young Trent Alexandra-Arnold took a quick corner kick taking the Barca team by surprise.  It fell into the path of Origi who smashed the ball into the back of the net to send the Anfield crowd delirious.  Against all possibilities, Liverpool were heading to the final in Madrid!

Spurs already 1-0 down from the first leg and without their main striker Harry Kane, were losing 2-0 in Amsterdam within 36 minutes.  Spurs now 3-0 down on aggregate, looked crestfallen with no apparent way back.  Somehow they kept going and scored two goals in the second half, levelling the score on the night.  They needed one more to take them through to the final on away goals.  You could sense the fear around the ground and yes, you guessed it, Moura scored in the 96th minute with virtually the last kick of the game to stun the Amsterdam crowd.  Spurs were going to their first Champions League final to meet their English counterparts.  Wow, what a night!

Liverpool beat Spurs 2-0 on a hot June night in Madrid to win their sixth European Cup / Champions League title.  Liverpool finished the year as the best team in the World, winning the World Club Championship in Qatar in December.

US Masters (April) – Tiger Woods Roars Back to win the Masters

US Masters (April) - Tiger Woods Roars Back to win the Masters Once the greatest golfer in the world with undisputed dominance, Tiger had been dragged to the depths of personal and physical despair.  The darling of American Golf fans, he was at the centre of a number of scandals after a number of extramarital affairs had been made public.  Not only was his personal life being dragged through the gutter, he piled on the weight and had a number of injuries and operations on his back.  He had also recently been arrested for driving under the influence in Florida and pictured looking completely disoriented, slurring his words.  The wizardry and magic he once had was now gone…or was it?!

His recent arrest perhaps provided a catalyst to improve his life and his fortunes.  Woods went into the Masters as a rank outsider.  DeChambeau and Koepka led the Masters after Day One.  Woods somehow earnt a place in the final grouping.  He had however never won a major trailing with the last round to play.  He was two shots behind the 2018 Open Champion, Francesco Molinari.

The Italian fell apart on the last few holes.  Woods held his nerve and scored an impressive 70 to win by one shot, and achieve one of the biggest sporting comebacks of all time.

Cricket World Cup (July) –  An unforgettable World Cup Final

Cricket World Cup (July) -  An unforgettable World Cup FinalEngland had been the laughing stock of cricket a few years previously.  They had built themselves back up, and as hosts, were one of the favourites to hold aloft the trophy.  They had a stuttering start, losing their first two games to Sri Lanka and Australia.  They somehow made it to the semi-finals where they beat Australia to reach the final against New Zealand.

Nobody would have expected the Cricket World Cup Final to end in such dramatic fashion, fitting for a Hollywood movie, and end up being the most iconic cricket match of all time.  Not even in your wildest dreams could you put together the set of circumstances and series of freak events that led to the ultimate conclusion.

Did Guptill’s 60-yard throw really hit Stokes diving bat to make the ball go for a four, in addition to the 2 runs awarded to Stokes for the second run?  Did Trent Boult, one of the best catchers in the world, step on the boundary rope to give him six rather than getting him out?  Did both sides need two runs to win from one delivery?  Surely the match couldn’t end in a Tie after 50 overs each?  Yes it did ….

This meant it was the time for a Super Over … in a World Cup Final, the fans at Lords couldn’t believe it!  New Zealand had the chance to win it on the last ball with 2 runs needed.  Guptill went for the final run to win the match only for Jason Roy to unleash an amazing throw to Buttler.  Buttler ran Guptill out to win the World Cup for England in the most dramatic of fashions and by the barest of margins!  An excellent year for English Cricket!

Wimbledon Tennis Championship (June) – 15 Year Old Cori Gauff beats Venus Williams

Wimbledon Tennis Championship (June) – 15 Year Old Cori Gauff beats Venus WilliamsCori Gauff was the youngest player ever to qualify for Wimbledon, aged 15 years and 122 days.  Quite an achievement, but an even bigger obstacle stood in her way, quite literally too.  She was drawn against her American counterpart Venus Williams, who is one the greatest and most successful ladies tennis players of all time.  She was also 24 years older than Cori, who surely had no chance to make it to the second round.

Cori entered Court One quite rightly very nervous with her head down.  Her nerves soon changed to competitive fire with her shouts celebrating each point that was won.  She played the match of her life and took Venus by surprise.  She defeated the multiple champion, and her heroine, by two sets 6-4, 6-4.  She left Court One with her head held high and tears in her eyes.

 

Rugby Six Nations (February) – Exceptional Wales win Grand Slam

Rugby Six Nations (February) – Exceptional Wales win Grand SlamThe 2019 Six Nations Championship was the 20th Six Nations Championship, contested between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.  It was the 125th edition of the competition, which had previous versions.

Few seriously believed Wales were in contention for the title, never mind the Grand Slam.  England’s opening game against Ireland was considered by many as the championship decider.  Whoever won that game would surely win the tournament.  England won that game and were the clear favourites to lift the trophy, and also the grand slam in the process.

England played Wales on Week 3 with both teams having won the previous two games.  England were leading 10-3 at half time.  Wales had a monster second half and scored a 77th minute try to beat England.

Going into the last game, England could still win the tournament.  England could only draw with Scotland 38-38, whilst Wales beat Ireland to win the tournament and take home the coveted Grand Slam, having defeated all the other teams.  An excellent achievement for Wales.

F1 Racing Championship 2019 (December) – Lewis Hamilton wins his 6th Championship in Abu Dhabi

F1 Racing Championship 2019 (December) – Lewis Hamilton wins his 6th Championship in Abu Dhabi Lewis Hamilton ended the year with a big victory in Abu Dhabi.  2019 was arguably the most impressive season of his career and his place in motor racing’s pantheon is complete.  Discussions and debate will continue who is the greatest driver of all, but Hamilton is surely right up there.

Hamilton had dominated motor racing having won five titles from the past six racing seasons.  Hamilton had matured as a person and a driver and 2019 was perhaps the most dominant.  The Mercedes driver won over half of his races (11) and had a hold on the championship from the summer.  He produced a number of outstanding performances but was close to not winning it.  Max Verstappen would have won it at the half-way stage.

Hamilton did hold aloft the trophy in Abu Dhabi to claim his sixth championship, and surely not his last.

Heavyweight Boxing (June) – Andy Ruiz produced one of the biggest shocks in Boxing History

Heavyweight Boxing (June) – Andy Ruiz produced one of the biggest shocks in Boxing History Anthony Joshua went into the World Heavyweight fight at New York’s Madison Square Garden a clear odds-on 1-25 favourite.  With 22 previous wins and 21 by knockout, he went into the fight extremely confident, especially considering Ruiz was not even supposed to be there.  The original opponent, Jarrell Miller, pulled out six weeks before the fight and Andy Ruiz came in at the last minute to replace him.

Added to this, Ruiz was the underdog in every sense of the word.  Just by looking at him, you would never consider him a heavyweight boxer, heavyweight maybe.  He looked out of shape with his rounded physique and was considerably shorter with less reach than Joshua.

Ruiz stunned Joshua with a number of knock-downs.  By the seventh round, Joshua ended up on the canvas on all fours and spat his gum shield out.  The referee waved off the bout and the unglamorous Mexican was Heavyweight champion of the world.

2018/2019 Premier League (May) – Manchester City win the Title by 1 Point

2018/2019 Premier League (May) - Manchester City win the Title by 1 Point The battle for the Premier League title had only previously gone to the last game of the season on seven occasions in the Premier League era.  The battle for the title was between two juggernauts who amassed almost 200 points between the two of them.  Never before had the top two suffered so few defeats and dominated the league.  Liverpool hadn’t won the title for almost 30 years, whilst Manchester City went into the 2018/2019 season as Champions.

Manchester City knew a win at Brighton in their final game would mean they would retain their title.  Liverpool were playing Wolves at home and took an early lead, whilst Brighton took the lead against Man City.  Liverpool were in dreamland thinking the title was surely coming back to Anfield.  This didn’t last long however and Man City soon equalised and then went on to dominate the game and win 4-1, taking the title with them.  For Liverpool, there was always next season ….

2019 Rugby World Cup (November) – Japan Stun Scotland

2019 Rugby World Cup (November) – Japan Stun ScotlandThe 2019 World Cup was held in Japan which experienced severe weather with a number of matches being cancelled.  Typhoon Hagibis had shaken up the tournament and left a trail of destruction behind it, with extensive collateral damage across Japan and 95 fatalities.

The two matches scheduled to take place the day before – England vs France and New Zealand vs Italy – had been cancelled.  Japan vs Scotland was almost one of those cancelled matches.  It was decided on the morning of the game, to go ahead with it.

Both teams needed to win the match to progress and Scotland were favourites.  Scotland scored first and played a very strong first half.  Japan had an amazing 26 spellbinding minutes and scored four tries to win the game 28-21, taking them to the next round and sending Scotland home.

Japan got knocked out in the quarter-final by eventual winners, South Africa.

2019 Ashes Series (August) – Ben Stokes Heroics

2019 Ashes Series (August) - Ben Stokes HeroicsEngland were down and out in the third Ashes Test at Headingley.  Australia had bowled England out for 67 on Day Two and looked certain to win the test to take the Ashes Urn back to Australia.

Ben Stokes played out of his skin and hit an astounding 135 not out to play one of the greatest innings of all time.  It also gave England one of their greatest ever victories to keep the Ashes series against Australia alive.  England were chasing 359 and needed 73 to win when he was joined by last man Jack Leach.  Stokes drove England to victory to level the series going into the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Stokes 135 not out included 11 fours and 8 sizes and came only 6-weeks after his excellent performance in the World Cup Final.  He ended the year as BBC British Sports Personality of the Year.

FirmaStella©