Football’s 10 absolute greatest David vs. Goliath games
Everyone loves a good old fashioned underdog story. Whether it’s the dorky kid getting together with the prom queen, the British winning at Agincourt or a rags to riches tale; we love it when the little guy wins.
Some of the beautiful game’s most enduring moments are the ‘against the odds’ victories where finances and raw talent are stacked against the humble contenders who with nothing but diligence, creativity and persistence manage to come out on top. Sure they fill us with hope for the future, but for the most part we just love it when the cocky and smug take a royally unexpected licking; these are the very best of them…
10. Chelsea 2-4 Bradford City (24 January 2015)
Proving that big upsets are just as prevalent in today’s game as they were in the bible, League One side Bradford City gave Premier League Chelsea (who would go on to win the league that season) a hiding they won’t soon forget. Going two goals down very early on, the Bantams completed an unfathomable comeback ending the game 4-2. Bradford City was 49 places behind Chelsea at the time and had a squad that cost £199,992,500 less.
9. Mexico 1-2 Costa Rica (16 June 2001)
Not unbelievable victory when thought of in the context of Costa Rica’s impressive 2014 World Cup run, what makes this victory outstanding is that it ended Mexico’s 20 year long unbeaten streak at their home stadium, the Azteca Stadium. It was also the first time Mexico had lost a World Cup qualifying game at home. Ever.
8. North Korea 1-0 Italy (19 July 1966)
It’s hard to ever consider North Korea as a plucky underdog, but their triumph over two time World Cup winners Italy when the world had written them off remains one of the most astounding international wins in history. Of course all that really matters is that England won the World Cup that year!
7. Red Star Belgrade 0-0 Marseille (29 May 1991)
Nobody would have considered the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavian side to have made a dent on the French champions. But after a European Cup run that featured wins over Celtic and Bayern Munich nothing could stop the determined Belgrade side that went on to win 5-3 on penalties claiming the cup in a historic win.
6. Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal (4 January 1992)
In the previous league season Wrexham had finished bottom of the entire Football League. They were up against an Arsenal side that had only lost a single game that season and boasted seven England internationals in the starting XI… and they scored first. A thundering free kick and an 85th minute hooked shot undid the First Division titans to the home fans’ elation.
5. Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United (8 January 1984)
Leave it to football legend and all round top geezer Harry Redknapp to put English top tier behemoths Manchester United firmly in their place with a historic FA Cup win. His well-drilled side made up of free transfers and loans trumped the likes of Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside; an early sign of the wheeler-dealer’s promise!
4. Celtic 2-1 Inter Milan (25 May 1967)
Celtic have featured in the European Cup innumerable times, but their one and only trophy from the competition came in an unlikely win over Italian leviathans Inter Milan in 1967. Their opponents had been impenetrable throughout the tournament and had swept away Real Madrid, Vasas and Torpedo Moscow without conceding a single goal, where Celtic had scraped through a number of winnable fixtures.
3. Senegal 1-0 France (31 May 2002)
African unknowns up against the defending World Cup winners in the first game of the group stages and a future Fulham FC legend, Papa Boupa Diop, to seal victory for one of the biggest group stages shockers in history. Despite knocking France aside, Senegal would tumble out of the last 16 to Turkey.
2. Once Caldas 0-0 Boca Juniors (2 July 2004)
The only Columbian club to have won the South American Cup previously had been funded by infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. It was not until 2004, where up against the giants of South American club football, Boca Juniors, that another Columbian club would repeat that feat. With draws in the first and second legs it was down to penalties where the four time winners missed every shot, bowing out 0-2 at the penalties stages to the battling Once Caldas side.
1. Greece 1-0 Portugal (4 July 2004)
The spotlight was on Portugal and their squad containing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Pauleta, Luis Figo, Deco, Miguel and Ricardo Carvalho to seal the win. But Greece, as if spurred on by Herculean lore defended diligently before Angelos Charisteas found the net for the nation’s first major trophy win.