06 December, 2011

20th Champions League season sees Top moments decided: Nice to see a goalkeeper get rare recognition:

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Jerzy Dudek's remarkable point blank save: 2005 CL Final
           This month's  "Champions"  magazine (the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League) was the 50th issue of the monthly tome.  To mark the event, an online poll of the Top 50 Champions League moments of all time was voted on.  Hundreds of thousands of people placed their vote.
           The winner came as something of a surprise;  going to Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek's remarkable double save in extra-time at the end of the 2005 Final against AC Milan which received 21% of the votes.  Having parried a close range header from Andrei Shevchenko; the Pole was prone on the ground as the ball fell to the Milan centre forward's feet with the prolific striker standing three yards from goal.  Dudek managed to get to his knees before sticking out a hand and deflecting the resulting piledriver high and over his crossbar.  Having come back from 0-3 down at half-time (and the score now level at 3-3) - there could only ever be one winner after that remarkable moment.      
           This observer was a little surprised that the Dudek save was voted as all-time number one, but having come back from 0-3 down to draw level, it would have been as close as sport can come to tragedy had the Reds not held on to lift the trophy.
Zidane's stunning 2002 strike soars through the Scottish sky
             I personally expected Zinedine Zidane's remarkable 2002 Final volley against Leverkusen to win the top award.  However, the Frenchman's effort trailed in in second with 12% of the total tally.  With a nothing cross from Roberto Carlos floating high towards the edge of the penalty area; Zidane raised his left leg to shoulder height before strike a sumptuous volley to the top corner of the German net.  It was a goal worthy of winning any Title and Zizou's sensational strike did just that.
Solskjaer completes United's amazing 1999 Final comeback
           Coming in in third place with 10% of the vote is Manchester United's last gasp winner against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Final at Camp Nou.  Having been dominated for most of the game (with their woodwork having been hit twice) and trailing since the sixth minute of the game; Teddy Sheringham equalised for the English League and Cup winners in injury time at the end of the 90 minutes with Solskjaer netting the winner 90 seconds later with virtually the last kick of the game.

Kobenhavn players celebrate last season's great achievement
             This observer would probably prefer moments which weren't from the Champions League Final (as the Top Five moments all are).  I would personally plump for FC Kobenhaven (Copenhagen's) achievement of reaching the last 16 in 2010-'11 as the smallest club ever to reach the knock-out stages as a greater achievement to most of the monstrous Premier League/La Liga franchises winning Europe's greatest club football prize.
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