Gotta stay loose
Gotta stay loose
This summer has produced yet another arms race between the elite clubs in Europe. Real Madrid signed James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, Barcelona scooped up Luis Suarez, and Chelsea reloaded with the likes of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas.
Bayern Munich? They’ve been rather quiet, but for good reason.
The German champions did their best business back in January, when it was announced that Robert Lewandowski would join them on a free transfer. You’d be forgiven to have forgotten about him, since he couldn’t star at the World Cup and all.
But on Monday against third-division side Duisburg, in his first test as a Bayern player, the Polish goal machine announced his arrival with an impressive goal:
GIF via Pies
Promotion to the Championship was on the line for League One clubs Rotherham and Leyton Orient on Sunday, and the high stakes evidently brought out the best of Rotherham’s Alex Revell.
With Leyton holding a 2-0 lead early in the second half, the striker notched two goals in five minutes to get Rotherham level. His second was an absolute firecracker:
GIF via @bubbaprog
The only thing better than that sweet strike? His manager’s priceless reaction:
Steve Evans is probably still running and fist-pumping somewhere.
Revell’s brace sent the playoff final into extra time, and after thirty more minutes of drama, Rotherham won 4-3 in penalties to clinch back-to-back promotions and return to England’s second division for the first time since the 2004/05 season.
The location was the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, and the occasion was the first UEFA Champions League final played between two teams from the same city: Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
Thousands of fans who couldn’t score a ticket to Lisbon watched from their respective home stadiums in Madrid. And since Real’s Bernabeu and Atletico’s Vicente Calderon are located just five miles from one another, they probably could hear each others’ chants as if they were at the game:
— Mark Donaldson (@DonaldsonESPN)May 24, 2014
Okay, on to the match.
It started out, well, strange. Diego Costa, Atletico’s hobbled star striker, was subbed off after just nine minutes. And no, nobody could figure out why he started in the first place.
The third-fastest substitution in European Cup final history (Getty Image).
It didn’t seem to matter, at least at first.
Diego Godin — who scored last weekend’s winner against Barcelona to clinch the La Liga title — struck again to give Atletico a 1-0 lead before halftime, profiting from Iker Casillas’ huge error:
It would stay 1-0 for what seemed like an eternity to Real Madrid fans. The 90th minute passed, the game was in stoppage time, and Atletico could already taste their first ever Champions League triumph.
But then, with only 120 seconds left on the clock, Sergio Ramos did THIS:
BOOM! You should probably listen to Gus Johnson’s incredible call for that goal. Pure madness:
Real were level, Atletico were denied the trophy at the death, and Casillas, the man responsible for the first goal, was easily the happiest man on the field:
We were going to extra time, and we needed a hero.
That’s when Gareth Bale paid back every single penny from his $130 million transfer from Spurs last summer:
Gus Johnson, once again, you are the greatest.
Watch the goal again, and again… and a few more times:
It was the first goal ever scored in extra time of a final in the Champions League era. And it wouldn’t be the last.
Suddenly in the mood, Real went on to score twice more — one being a Ronaldo penalty kick — to put the game under wraps. More importantly, this gave Ronaldo a chance to remove his shirt:
And with that full-body flex, Real Madrid were crowned Champions of Europe:
The celebrations spilled over to the media conference room, where Carlo Ancelotti was ambushed by a pack of his rowdy players:
Of course, in Madrid the party was just getting started as well:
Over in Madrid… happy fans making their way to city-centre Cibeles statue to celebrate Real’s Decima European Cup: pic.twitter.com/fwDPYofZq5— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax)May 24, 2014
Though not everyone in the Spanish capital was probably in the mood:
Ah yes, euphoria and heartbreak - the two inherent components to every final. See you next season, Champions League.
Abs of steel
Thanks for saving me, Sergio.
Relegation races are intense, especially for fans. When it’s about your club’s survival in the first division, a matter of life and death, stress levels are off the charts until it either ends in a burst of pure ecstasy or complete misery.
For fans of Dutch club NEC Nijmegen, the odds were stacked against them heading into the final day of the season. Facing the recently crowned Eredivisie champions Ajax, last-placed NEC needed at least a draw to pass Roda JC in the standings and stave off the automatic drop — a big ask.
It didn’t look good, either. Ajax were up 2-1 with just two minutes to play. But then, NEC scored a dramatic, season-saving equalizer, sending the away fans into a frenzy.
For one individual, this was the crowning moment of his entire life:
Just look how happy he is. Sadly, someone should tell him the bad news.
As the team second from bottom, NEC must now play two more nail-biters in the relegation playoffs, ensuring that this guy will have a few more anxiety attacks this season.
Sergio Ramos had already given Real Madrid an early 2-0 lead over Bayern Munich in the second leg of their semifinal tie, but Real’s crowning moment of the first half set a new Champions League record at the same time.
Obviously, Cristiano Ronaldo was involved.
The goal was Ronaldo’s 15th of the current Champions League campaign, setting a new all-time record. Lionel Messi previously held the record with 14 goals in the 2011/12 season, before Ronaldo equaled that mark with a goal in the quarterfinals against Dortmund.
Naturally, Ronaldo was ecstatic. And just so that everyone watching at home was aware of his new record, Ronaldo and friends spelled it out for the TV cameras:
Just look at how happy he is:
And before all was said and done, Ronaldo added one more to his tally, bringing his total this season in the Champions League to 16.
He’ll have one more match — the final — to increase his own record. Odds are he does.