In a season spanning over 50 games for most teams, it seems like an exaggeration to say that one of them represented the season. But it proves to be true oh so often. Across the top five leagues and the UEFA competitions, we witnessed numerous games which were of that nature. If the results of those games were overturned, the effects would be tremendous. On that note, here are five games which defined last season.
1. Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona
This was not meant to happen. After Lionel Messi led Barcelona to a 3-0 victory in the first leg, the Catalans were all but through to the final. Messi scored twice, the second of which was a quite sumptuous free-kick. The nature of the defeat was especially crushing for Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s side played well, but some individual brilliance got the better of them.
They faced a huge mountain in the second leg, but Divock Origi scored early to give them a foothold. Substitute Giorginio Wijnaldum scored twice to level the tie on aggregate. Barcelona were shell shocked, but the worst was yet to come. Trent Alexander-Arnold whipped in an audacious corner, and Origi slotted home. The Barca defenders and goalkeepers were too late to react, and disaster struck. This memorable night at Anfield propelled Liverpool to the final, where they beat Tottenham to clinch the Champions League crown. The match arguably defined the seasons for both the teams.
2. Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool
The Premier League title race last season was one to remember. Manchester City and Liverpool dueled till the very last day of the season for the ultimate prize. Eventually, City defended their title by the slightest margin of a single point. Only one side in Premier League history has got more points than these two last season, which was the City side of 2017/18. In a race of such tight margins, City’s win over Liverpool in January was a massive result for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Liverpool were leading by 7 points going into the match. A victory for the Reds would have stretched the gap to double digits. John Stones was the saviour in the first half as he cleared Sadio Mane’s effort off the line. A few centimeters on either side would have resulted in a Liverpool goal. But City survived, and took the lead through Sergio Aguero. Roberto Firmino equalized for Liverpool, but Leroy Sane’s late winner handed all three points to City. The win was huge in hindsight and eventually proved to be decisive in the title race.
3. Ajax 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Just like Liverpool, Tottenham produced a performance to remember to reach the final. They were trailing 1-0 from the first leg, and Ajax wasted no time in the second leg in increasing that deficit. Matthijs de Ligt headed home to give Ajax a lead on the night, and Hakim Ziyech added to the score soon after. Ajax were leading 3-0 on aggregate at half-time, and it looked as though the home crowd would go home elated. But that was not to be.
Spurs came back stronger in the second half, and Lucas Moura validated that effort with a strike to give them hope. Moura scored again and brought Spurs within a goal of winning the tie on the away goals rule. Ajax were creating chances on the counter, but they could not find a killer blow. Eventually, their lack of composure would come back to haunt them. Moura completed his hat-trick with virtually the last play of the game to send Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs fans into raptures. Spurs had completed an unbelievable comeback to set up the first all-English Champions League final in more than a decade.
4. Bayern Munich 5-0 Borussia Dortmund
After numerous seasons of Bayern Munich supremacy, last season saw a thrilling title race in the Bundesliga. Bayern had cantered to the title in recent years, but Dortmund started last season with a purpose. While Bayern were finding their feet with new coach Niko Kovac, Dortmund were picking up wins under Lucian Favre. By Christmas, they were top of the table, and it was looking as though Germany would see a new champion after all.
But Bayern came back strong after the winter break and moved to within two points of Dortmund. The two teams faced off in what was a crucial clash. Bayern ran riot and won 5-0 on the night. It was 4-0 at half-time, which eventually ended the title race there itself. Dortmund still kept it alive till the last week, but Bayern were good enough to hold on. They clinched their seventh consecutive title in May, and the thrashing of Dortmund in April was a significant reason why.
5. Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Both sides went into the Champions League final looking to exorcise demons surrounding them. Neither Jurgen Klopp not Mauricio Pochettino had won a trophy at their respective clubs going into the final. It was a massive game for both teams, which allowed them to end the season on a high.
Mohamed Salah opened the scoring for Liverpool with a controversial early penalty. But the goal stood, and it changed the complexion of the game. Liverpool were content to sit back and defend for large parts of the game. Divock Origi added a late second to confirm his side’s triumph. Liverpool secured their sixth European title and Spurs will now head to the drawing board after another season without silverware.