Memorable: Man City’s win among top comebacks
Try to capture it any way you like — exciting, thrilling, stunning, heart-stopping.
Sometimes there’s just no word or phrase that quite encapsulates the sheer joy and, for the loser, agony, of a comeback win at a major sporting event. The struggle makes victory that much sweeter.
Manchester City added its name to the list of teams that have pulled off memorable comebacks with everything on the line Sunday by beating Queens Park Rangers 3-2 on injury-time goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero. The win gave Man City its first English league title in 44 years, and set off some unhinged celebrating by fans of a team that has long stood in Manchester United’s shadow.
Here are some moments, from soccer and other sports, that Manchester City’s victory will be compared with as the years go by.
MANCHESTER UNITED’S MOMENT
Might as well start with the club across town. In the 1999 Champions League final, Manchester United trailed Bayern Munich 1-0 in second-half injury time before Teddy Sheringham scored in 91st minute and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer in 93rd for a 2-1 win. It was a signature moment in Alex Ferguson’s long tenure at Man U.
The New York Mets trailed the Boston Red Sox 5-3 in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and were twice one strike from elimination, but rallied on Ray Knight’s RBI single, Bob Stanley’s wild pitch and first baseman Bill Buckner’s error on Mookie Wilson’s grounder to win 6-5 and force Game 7. Less remembered: The Mets also trailed 3-0 in the sixth inning of that final game before winning 8-5.
NICKLAUS RALLIES ...
One newspaper said Jack Nicklaus, at age 46, was washed up. That looked to be the case when Nicklaus was five shots behind going into the final round of the 1986 Masters. Then, he pulled off perhaps the most famous comeback in Augusta National history by shooting 30 on the back nine for a 65 and a one-shot win. He became the oldest player to win the Masters, and it was his 18th and final professional major.
... AND SO DOES ARNIE
One golf story always leads to another. Arnold Palmer was seven shots behind going into the final round of the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. Angered when Pittsburgh golf writer Bob Drum told Palmer that a score of 280 “won’t do you a damn bit of good,” Palmer drove the par-4 first hole and started with four straight birdies. He shot 65 for a four-round score of 280 and won the U.S. Open over Ben Hogan and 20-year-old amateur Jack Nicklaus.
THE CELTICS FIGHT BACK
In the 2008 NBA finals, the Boston Celtics were behind by 20 points with 6:04 left in the third quarter before storming back to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 97-91, giving Boston command of the series with a 3-1 lead. The Celtics outscored the Lakers 31-15 in the third quarter, then put it away with a 21-3 run over the final five minutes of the game, fueled by two 3-pointers from Eddie House. Boston became the first team to overcome more than a 15-point deficit after the first quarter of a finals game and wrapped up the series in Game 6 back home.
GO GO BUFF-A-LO
Coming off two Super Bowl losses, the Buffalo Bills didn’t win the AFC East in 1992 and had to host a wild-card game with the Oilers, who routed them 27-3 a week earlier in Houston. By halftime of the playoff matchup, Buffalo was down 28-3 and it soon became 35-3.
Rich Stadium began emptying. Soon, many of those fans turned around their cars and headed back as the Bills staged an incredible comeback. Houston went into a prevent defense in the third quarter. Buffalo backup Frank Reich, in for injured quarterback Jim Kelly, led the Bills to four straight TDs, including a fourth-down gamble for an 18-yard score, making it 35-31. After Houston botched a field goal attempt, Reich’s 17-yard throw to Andre Reed put the Bills in front. The Oilers showed some fortitude by marching to a tying field goal, but Warren Moon was intercepted by Nate Odomes early in overtime and Steve Christie’s 32-yard field goal won it.
Strangely, the Bills failed to sell out against the Oilers, the first time in 23 home games that the stadium wasn’t full. So for local fans to see the greatest rally in team — make that league — playoff history, you had to be there and stay throughout.
LASSE VIREN PICKS HIMSELF UP
Finnish runner Lasse Viren set a world record in the 10,000 meters at the 1972 Olympics. He fell during the race’s 12th lap. That’s right — Viren spent part of his world-record, gold-medal winning run flat on his back. Not too long, though. He popped back to his feet, reeled in the pack ahead of him and, after several lead changes, he won a sprint to the finish. As a capper, he won gold in the 5,000 meters 10 days later. He did the same double in Montreal four years later.
RED BIRDS RULE
Some thought the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t even belong in the playoffs last season — after all, they sneaked in as a wild card on the last day of the regular season. But the Cardinals won the National League pennant and trailed Texas 7-5 in Game 6 of the World Series. Just one strike from elimination in the ninth inning, David Freese’s two-run triple put the game into extra innings. St. Louis then trailed 9-7 and was one strike from elimination in 10th inning before Ryan Theriot’s RBI grounder and Lance Berkman’s run-scoring single. Freese homered in the 11th for a 10-9 win. St. Louis went on to win Game 7, 6-2, for the title.
PLUCK OF THE IRISH
The 2001 women’s NCAA basketball tournament featured a UConn team with Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird. But in the national semifinals, the Huskies faced a Notre Dame squad with player of the year Ruth Riley. Weeks earlier, the Huskies had beaten the Irish in the Big East title game when Bird hit a buzzer shot over Riley, and in their Final Four matchup, UConn went ahead by 16. But the Irish weren’t done. Led by Niele Ivey’s 21 points and Alicia Ratay’s 20, Notre Dame shut down UConn in the second half and captured a 90-75 victory. Notre Dame then hung on against Purdue in the final to win its first (and only) women’s title.
CHANG FIGHTS ON
At the 1989 French Open, 17-year-old Michael Chang lost the first two sets of his fourth-round match against No. 1-ranked Ivan Lendl, then came all the way back to win 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, on his way to becoming the youngest male champion at a Grand Slam tournament (a record that still stands) and the first American man to win the Roland Garros title since Tony Trabert in 1955. Chang considered quitting because of debilitating leg cramps that began in the fourth set of the 4½-hour match. He stood through changeovers, instead of sitting, because he worried his legs would lock up. He guzzled water and munched on bananas. Famously, he served underhand in the fifth set. Another unusual tactic: When Lendl, who retired with eight Grand Slam titles, served on match point, Chang flustered him by hobbling all the way up to the service line, something rarely seen at top-level tennis. Lendl double-faulted, ending the match.
HARVARD’S GREATEST TIE
With less than a minute left in the 1968 edition of Harvard’s annual football rivalry game with Yale, the Crimson were down 29-13. But two quick touchdowns left Harvard with a final chance to avoid a loss as it went for a second 2-point conversion. Announcer Don Gillis had the call on a pass from Frank Champi to Pete Varney with no time left: “Hang onto your hats, boys and girls. Let’s just watch. ... Champi ... He’s got it! He’s got it to Varney! And it ends 29-29! What a finish!” Harvard’s student newspaper captured the moment in its headline: “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.”