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What Was The Best Soccer Game You Ever Saw?

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 17: Atmosphere at the Heineken Brings UEFA Champions League Trophy to the US event at 230 Fifth Avenue on February 17, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images for Heineken)

When I’m chatting with friends about music, I often ask them what was their favorite concert of all time. For me, it was a performance by Midnight Oil in 1987 or 1988 in a tiny club on the Fort Lauderdale strip. This was before their single “Beds Are Burning” became a nationwide hit. Their music was incredible, and it was a joy seeing lead singer Peter Garrett, a man who was the 80s version of Peter Crouch without the good looks nor soccer skills, singing his heart out but bending down so his head wouldn’t hit the ceiling.

But when I’m asked which was the best soccer match I’ve ever seen, it’s difficult because I’ve seen so many more soccer games than concerts. But the one that sticks out in my mind has to be the 2005 Champions League Final between AC Milan and Liverpool. It was a game I wasn’t able to watch live due to work commitments, so I purposefully tried to make sure I didn’t find out the score before I got home and switched on my DVR. As the game began, I sat back and watched AC Milan take control of the game as they ended the first half 3-0 up. But when Steven Gerrard pulled one back in the 54th minute, I was really impressed by the way he tried to rally his teammates and boost their confidence to try to get back in the game.

By the time the game neared the end of the 90 minutes, I remembered screaming and shouting in joy when Liverpool kept on scoring. I was so loud that my wife upstairs, who was already in bed, was telling me to shut up. I continued watching the game and was mesmerized by what I was watching, shouting a few more times and upsetting my wife some more.

As for the best match I’ve ever seen in person, there’s no doubt that it’s Swansea’s first game ever in the top flight of English football. It was 1981 and a beautiful August day in South Wales. Swansea’s first game of the season was at home against Leeds United. I stood on the terraces of the Vetch Field and was as high as a kite after the Swans beat Leeds 5-1 in a stunning defeat. The final goal by Alan Curtis was one of sure beauty.

What about you? What was the best soccer game you saw on television and in person? Share your stories in the comments section below.

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  1. SJC2012

    January 11, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Man Utd 1 – Liverpool 4 at Old Trafford. Always nice to beat them at their own place but doubt it will happen like that again for a while! (still lost the title that year though…)
    Other than that, Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4 or LPool / Milan Champions League final 2005

  2. endri

    May 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    what about Turkey-Croatia in euro 2008???????
    it was a cinderella finish
    Croatia scored on 119th minute, looked to win BUT 😛
    Turkey score a minute later
    Turkey wins on penalties 3-1
    best game i think 🙂

  3. wais

    November 25, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    The best game I’ve seen was the Barcelona vs Madrid game in 2009/2010, the reason why was because it was hardcore, fouls left and right, both teams almost scored at least 10 times, with magnificent saves from defenders or the keeper, and then Ibra came in and scored within a minute in! I loved that game, but i did not watch soccer back in the day started in 2007 so idk before that, but that game was beautiful, better than any CL final since then, and better than any world cup game, even though world cup games are more emotional they are not as hardcore, playing wise, by that i mean how fast the ball moves around from player to player.

  4. mike

    October 27, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Totally forgot about the Chelsea-Barcelona Champions League semifinal. Iniesta’s goal was invigorating. Tremendous stuff.

  5. NYEFC

    October 27, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Best game watched on TV: USA v. Algeria WC 2010. Watched this at Nevada Smith’s. I can easily say that my shirt absorbed about a half keg of beer and I have never hugged so many strangers in my life.

    Best game seen in person: USA v. Costa Rica WCQ 2010 in DC. The atmosphere surrounding it was incredible. USA had qualified for the World Cup a few days earlier, but everything involving Charlie Davies’ car accident and USA’s inspired comeback made it truly memorable. I actually screamed like a 13 yr old girl when USA scored in stoppage time.

  6. Andrew puopolo

    October 27, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Any of Spurs matches that ended 4-4 in ’07/’08, such as coming from 4-2 against Arsenal or 4-1 against Villa, also Tottenham 9-1 Wigan

  7. Anonymous

    October 26, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    My most memorable match was USA v Mexico Round of 16 from the 2002 World Cup. I have never been more satisfied watching a sports match ever. I had to get up at 2am on a Sunday night/Monday morning on the east coast in the states and had an important exam later that day. I still get chills watching Eddie Lewis’ cross for Donovan to finish off El Tri. That set out a warning to the world that the USA was finally taking soccer seriously. Brilliant!

  8. SteveD

    October 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    There are WAY too many so I’ll just name a (sort of) recent one, and that was Manchester United vs. City, with Michael Owen scoring in the dying seconds to win the derby. It was definitely awesome!

  9. Attaturk

    October 26, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Chelsea 4 Liverpool 4 in 2009 Champions League Quarter-Final which allowed Chelsea to win on aggregate. Having lost 3 to 1 an Anfield ‘Pool scored the opening 2 goals to lead at the half with a chance to win, only to see 6 goals in the final 45.

  10. dbm

    October 26, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    For me it was USA 2 Mexico 0 in World Cup 2002

    It was a thorough victory for a hardworking USA team riding high on confidence from getting out of a tough group (tough by our standards since before this we had no standards). This victory opened Mexico’s eyes and they have taken us seriously ever since.

    USA vs. Columbia in 1994 was a close second but the own goal and what followed it cast a shadow over that match for me.

  11. Stacy Richardson

    October 26, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    The best game I ever saw was about 20 years ago here in Tulsa: a pickup indoor game at a local facility. One side consisted of good, young local players and the other consisted of former NASL Roughnecks, many of whom remained in the Tulsa area after the demise of the team. The match went back and forth and the former Roughnecks prevailed, 9-8.

    I know, I know: it was just a friendly, it was indoors, it shouldn’t “count” for the purpose of this article. But every time I think, “What was the best match I ever saw?,” instantly that match leaps to mind.

    As far as the best match I’ve seen on television, I have several favorites, though for pure delight, nothing will exceed Tulsa’s Soccer Bowl victory in 1983.

  12. Marc

    October 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    The 2001 United vs Spurs match at Whitehart Lane was the best 45 minutes of Football I ever watched. United were down 3-0 at the half but then scored 5 goals in the 2nd half to win 5-3. Its true what they say, football is a tale of two halfs.

  13. Nick

    October 26, 2010 at 11:37 am

    2 tv matches: the famous 1979 FA Cup final between Manchester United and Arsenal (which was mostly a great ending). And the 1982 France/Germany World Cup semi-final, in which France went up 3-1 in the first few minutes of extra time, Germany tied it up and then went on to win in penalties.

  14. Jason

    October 26, 2010 at 11:23 am

    For me, as a Spurs supporter and a relatively young one at that. It would have to be Spurs Arsenal last year at the Lane. Danny Rose!!!!!!!! I can only imagine how amazing it would have been in person. I was there a few weeks later for the Bolton match and that wasn’t quite the same 😉

    Also, I gotta put the Tottenham Man City game last year up there as Crouchy headed us into the Champions League for the first time ever.

    • brian c

      October 30, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      that Danny Rose goal was unreal. His first PL game and his first PL goal. Welcome to the Premier League.

  15. Jayoh

    October 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

    2008 CL Final – ManU v. Chelsea. Watching John Terry shank the PK was amazing…that game was sooo good

  16. Jayoh

    October 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

    2008 CL Final – ManU v. Chelsea. Watching John Terry shank the PK was amazing…that game was sooo good,

  17. jarkt

    October 26, 2010 at 10:41 am

    This was chelsea’s return leg and trailing 2-1, they hosted barca in the champion league game at stamford bridge.

    Other than the obvious Liverpool Milan game , this FA cup final was gr8,

    I blame u as i browse utube to remember my best games …

  18. iib

    October 26, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Italy – Brazil at World Cup 1982 in Spain. Incredible match from start to finish. As a die-hard Arsenal fan, I must also mention the 2-0 win against Milan at San Siro three years ago. That was a phenomenal game by all accounts.

  19. Darren

    October 26, 2010 at 10:25 am

    For me, the best ever football game I have ever watched was EURO 2000 Semi-final, Holland vs Yugoslavia. I remember going into the game thinking Yugoslavia was a very strong team and could easily upset my beloved Dutch.
    And then Patrick Kluivert scores 4 goals and Holland completely ran over Yugoslavia to a 6-1 win.
    A complete and comprehensive win, and I was certain this team could go all the way and win it all. How could they not?
    And then Holland vs Italy happened, the worst game I can recall in my life.

  20. kulay

    October 26, 2010 at 10:15 am

    mine has to be the semi final replay between arsenal and man utd at villa park

  21. Gaz Hunt

    October 26, 2010 at 10:15 am

    You hit it on the head, Gaffer. 2005 CL was by probably the best game I’ve ever seen. I have a video of the highlights on my computer that I will go back to sometimes.

    Another memorable game was Liverpool against Olympiakos (2004, I think) due to one of Gerrard’s best goals and Andy Gray’s subsequent, “oh, you beauty” commentary.

  22. VillaP

    October 26, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Best game is really my favorite and also the first official Premier League game I saw at home after I finally got DirecTV.

    Aston Villa v Everton in 2008. Steve Sidwell and Joleon Lescott each score first half goals. Ashley Young interceps a horrid backpass from Phil Jagielka to beat Tim Howard and put Villa ahead 2-1. In the second minute of stoppage time with Everton applying all sorts of pressure, Lescott waits in front of the goal to score to tie the game at 2-2 before ripping his shirt off while the Goodison Park goes crazy and a bloody Martin Laursen lays face down in exhaustion on the ground. 30 seconds later, Ashley Young remarkably gets possession and passes to himself around Lescott and beats Howard to the right corner as Aston Villa stun Everton at the death.

    Two teams giving it their all without any embellishing or foul play. The highs and lows of seeing your team leading until the final minute, only to have them score immediately after to win the game.

    I would say I watch a replay of the match 4-5 times a year.

  23. Matt

    October 26, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Im not sure what year, but the United 4-2 Arsenal game is still the best footballing game I have ever seen. This was infamous for Rooney’s lashing out at Graham Poll, but there was all the makings, Vieria vs Keane, Oshea’s beautiful chip, Berkamp, Giggs, Ronaldo making a name for himself.

    For me, after watching that game, I just had a feeling inside, that one that tells you that “I’ve just witnessed something a bit special”.

  24. RVPFan

    October 26, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Holland vs Italy semi-final, EURO 2000. I will put it up there with perhaps the best game I have been fortunate enough to witness. I will never forget that match and I have been asked this question many times, always remember that match.

    • Darren

      October 26, 2010 at 10:20 am

      Really? That was BY FAR the worst match I have every watched. I almost cried when Holland lost I was so mad/frustrated/sick to my stomach!

  25. bob marley

    October 26, 2010 at 9:22 am

    any game that Dennis “God ” Bergkamp played in………..

  26. RedMD

    October 26, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Best match I’ve ever seen in person would definitely have to be United 7-1 Roma, 2007 CL 1/4 final, 2nd leg. It was really one of those great european nights in the ground.

    Best Match I’ve seen on tv, might have to be United 3-2 Juventus, 1999 CL 1/2 final, 2nd leg, I mean 2-0 down in 10 minutes, who’d have thought the comeback was on?

    • warren

      October 26, 2010 at 9:37 am

      I was just going to put the Juventus v United semi as well. Would have loved to have been there for the Roma match.

  27. Andy

    October 26, 2010 at 9:11 am

    The best game I’ve ever seen has to have been the the 1981 FA Cup Final replay, Tottenham Hotspur against Man. City. I never managed to get a ticket but watched on TV, and saw Ricky Villa of the Spurs (of course!) score the greatest goal ever seen at Wembley. I have seen many great games and many incredible players going back to people like Jimmy Greaves, Geoff Hurst, George Best, Bobby Charlton and others, but I will never see a goal better than the one by Villa. What a game.

    Never seen it? Find it on YouTube and marvel at what he did with the ball at his feet.

  28. Mike

    October 26, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Wow, great post.

    Greatest match I’ve seen on TV/DVR etc. A few close ones:

    Liverpool-Milan for sure, hard to top that for drama and emotion.

    But I’ll tell you, one of my favorites was the Portuguese Cup semfinal a couple years back between Sporting and Benfica that Sporting won 5-3. Benfica went up a couple of goals, Sporting battled back and it was give and go the whole way to the final whistle. And some of the goals were epic. Well worth looking for on Youtube, especially with the Portuguese radio commentary.

    As for in-person, there are a couple:

    1994 World Cup, Foxboro Stadium, Argentina 4, Greece 0. Not a great, historic game, but it was a World Cup match, and I was there and just swept up in the surroundings. I’ll never forget the mile-long line of people on Route 1 banging drums and playing horns as they marched toward the stadium. I’ll never forget how the noise NEVER stopped inside. Batistuta scored three times and Maradona potted his last goal in an Argentina jersey. Quite tremendous.

    The other was a year earlier at Foxboro, the U.S. beat England in a friendly 2-0 in front of 30,000 or so fans. It was the first glimmer of hope that the U.S. could make some noise as a football nation. For one night they played better than England and deserved to win. Thomas Dooley and Alexi Lalas scored and it was like the second coming of the Revolutionary War. A lot of stunned Brits, and a lot of I-told-you-so Americans.

  29. Ivan

    October 26, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Best game I’ve seen live: Bulgaria-Germany 3:2, Euro 1996 qualifier…Sofia, Bulgaria. Bulgaria came back from 2:0 down w/ a brace from Stoichkov and the winner from Kostadinov. 70,000 plus at Vasil Levski stadium, once in a lifetime experience. Stuff like that you can’t desribe w/ words!

    Best game on TV: too many to name…3 stick out right now…
    1. Bulgaria-Germany 2:1, 1/4 Final World Cup’94, enough said.

    2. Liverpool-West Ham, FA Cup Final, 3:3. The game was on pay-per-view, and I saw it in my tiny apartment in Gainesville, Florida…Gerrard’s tying goal was a thing of beauty. I remember screaming a lot…

    3. Liverpool-AC Milan, Champions League Final 3:3. I took off work and went to the Bennigans next door to catch the game. I was doing my summer internship in St. Pete, FL, and was the only person at the bar who cared…thank God I didn’t go back to work at 3:0 Milan…

  30. Sparks

    October 26, 2010 at 8:25 am

    As a Manchester United fan many great games come to mind. The 1999 Champions League final, with two goals in the final minutes was fantastic. That game showed me the magic of football. Ole Solskjær’s incredible goal was the moment I understood that soccer was the greatest game that humans will ever play.

    But a game from that same season would have to be the greatest game I have ever witnessed. That game would be Arsenal vs. Manchester United in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay, 14th April 1999 at Villa Park. The game was back and forth the whole night. David Beckham struck early for United only to have it cancelled out in the 69th by a Denis Berkamp goal for Aresenal.
    A few moments later United’s captain was sent off for a second yellow. To extra time it went with Arsenal dominating every aspect of the game due to the extra man.

    Then Patrick Vieira played a week pass that Ryan Giggs intercepted. Giggs then started a run that would culminate in what may be the greatest goal in FA Cup history. After receiving the ball in his own half, Giggs beat eight Arsenal players on his way into the box before crashing the ball into the roof of David Seaman’s net. With jersey off and teammates running after him Giggs celebrated sending United to the Final, and on the way to the historic treble.

    The greatest game I have ever seen. Also the greatest goal I have ever seen. If you haven’t seen it before look it up.

    • Kulay

      October 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm

      Also mate don’t forget the pen save by the great Dane against bergkamp in the dying minutes that made the game go into extra time

  31. Edward C

    October 26, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Mine would have to be a rather insignificant Arsenal vs. Man Utd from the 06/07 season. Rooney put Utd up in the second half (at the Emirates) but van Persie equalized (and INJURED himself celebrating, I think)…and then Thierry Henry, of all people, popped up with a header (!!!) in the dying minutes to win the match.

  32. Watkins1771

    October 26, 2010 at 7:12 am

    I know I’m going to get blasted, but please forgive me, I’m an American very much new to the greatness of soccer. Like most Americans, the 2010 World Cup conjured up an incredible interest in the game. As of now, in my very limited soccer viewings, it would have to be United States-Algeria in the last group game. However this is not because of the level of play was incredibly astounding. When Donovan scored that goal in the 91st minute I finally realized why soccer is overwhelmingly the World’s sport. Before that goal, I had no idea why I had sat in front of the TV for an hour and a half until that moment. From the Tim Howard throw down the field to Dempsey then Donovan with the pay off, It was the most exciting 35 seconds of sports action I have ever witnessed.

    In five years, I will of course have a different answer. But for now, its the game that sparked my new found love for the game that allowed me to join the international fraternity of soccer fandom.

    • Edward C

      October 26, 2010 at 7:54 am

      No, you should not get blasted: it was an awesome moment. And no, I’m not American as well.

      • Wacman

        October 26, 2010 at 10:11 am

        I’ve been watching soccer for years, and this was probably the first thing that came to mind, if only because I knew that my friends, who bashed soccer day in and day out would watch that game and at least understand a little bit more why I loved this game

    • Allen Nguyen

      October 26, 2010 at 10:29 am

      I agree with Edward. You definitely shouldn’t be embarrassed of viewing that match as the greatest you’ve seen…even though I’m a childhood/teenage Chelsea fan, I’m an absolute diehard USA fan and that was an absolutely beautiful goal. It is the moment when a lot of my friends (friends that hadn’t watched soccer before or were not too fond of it) instantly saw what the Beauty in Beautiful Game meant.

      And I suppose that means a lot more to me as a US citizen despite being raised in a family of Chelsea fans…but yes, that was one of the most emotional games that I have ever experienced. And, I’m not afraid to admit that a few hysterical tears were shed in those seconds.

    • brian c

      October 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm

      I’m also an American who has watched football for years and will never forget that game. I’ve seen “better” matches but the truth is that the way the match ended was easily one of the biggest goals in USA history as well as in the 2010 World Cup.

      I was at a Fox and Hound outside Philadelphia and everyone could feel the tensions growing. When Landon scored that goal the place blew apart. Tables fell, glass broke and grown men were crying. Watching the replays on youtube, I’ll never forget Ian Darke saying “You can’t even write a script like this.” No truer words have ever been spoken.

  33. Jorge

    October 26, 2010 at 5:41 am

    easy. on TV definitely Porto v Celtic, UEFA Cup Final 2003, 3-2 AET for Porto. would have to be another Porto match, sorry: Porto v Lazio, 4-1, semi-finals, 1st leg of the 2002-03 UEFA Cup.
    ah, those were the Mourinho days…

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