The Premier League, the most dramatic, emotional and entertaining league on the planet, returns to action on Friday evening when Manchester United host Leicester City at Old Trafford and expectations for an eventful season are high after a sensational World Cup. Part of the Premier League’s global appeal is its undying ability to produce astonishing and iconic moments that will live forever and this is more so encapsulated by the stunning amount of goals scored after the ninetieth minute and the agony and ecstasy they cause. Here we take a look back at five of greatest Beyond 90 Goals of the Premier League era.
1. Steve Bruce (Manchester United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday; 10/04/1993)
The Premier League’s inception season saw, for the most part, a three-way tussle for the new trophy between Aston Villa, Norwich City and Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, who were bolstered by the signing of Eric Cantona to spearhead their attach. Since arriving in 1986, Ferguson had tasted FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winner’s Cup success but still craved his maiden English title and United’s first since Sir Matt Busby’s 1967 league triumph. Following Norwich’s collapse to United and then a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Tottenham and Aston Villa’s inability to beat Coventry City, United could go top with five matches to go if they could beat midtable Sheffield Wednesday at home. One-nil down as the seconds etched towards full-time and United were desperate as a golden opportunity was about to pass them by. Then, first in the 86th and then in the 91st minute, Steve Bruce wrote his name into Manchester United folklore with two towering headers to claw United in-front, send over seventy-thousand fans delirious and force Alex Ferguson to the touchline for a wild celebration. This was the original ‘Fergie-Time’ moment and United never looked back. Whilst Aston Villa’s season would disintegrate as they lost their final three games United would win all of their remaining games to become the Premier League’s first ever champions, secure their first title in 26 years and kick-start a dynasty for Ferguson at the club.
2. Stan Collymore (Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle United; 03/04/1996)
Kevin Keegan’s swashbuckling ‘Entertainers’ side had taken the Premier League by storm, boasting the likes of Ferdinand, Asprilla, Beardsley and Ginola and in January they had a 12-point lead. However, with Manchester United breathing down their necks the Toon Army suffered a horrendous March and by the time they got to Anfield at the beginning of April their lead had evaporated. Any plan of controlling the game, containing Liverpool, nicking a goal and seeing the game out went out the window two minutes in when Robbie Fowler put the reds in-front. However, by the 14th minute Newcastle were 2-1 up courtesy of Ferdinand and Ginola. The game would teeter back and forth with Liverpool equalising through Fowler, Newcastle going back in-front through Asprilla and then Collymore making it 3-3. As the clock ticked towards the ninety-second minute Liverpool swarmed Newcastle’s box where beautiful link-up play between Ian Rush and John Barnes allowed Collymore to retrieve the ball and score. Martin Tyler’s iconic declaration “Collymore closing in” has gone down in history and the game, for its drama from the first whistle till the last, is often regarded as the greatest of the Premier League era. For Newcastle, their campaign would never truly recover. They failed to win all their remaining games, Keegan lost convincingly to Alex Ferguson’s mind games and Manchester United would claim their third title in four seasons at their expense.
3. Aaron Lennon (Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham hotspur; 29/10/2008)
The North-London Derby is one of the Premier League’s most passionate, bloodthirsty derbies and the 2008 edition at the Emirates will go down as the greatest of the bunch. Arsenal, who were chasing their first title for five years were facing a Spurs side led by Harry Redknapp who shockingly found themselves at the bottom of the table, recovered from an early David Bentley goal to storm to a 3-1 lead by the 64th minute courtesy of Mikael Silvestre, William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor. Their security in this position would last mere seconds. Instantly, Spurs got a goal back thanks to Darren Bent and after a back and forth tussle with Arsenal unsure whether to stick or twist and Spurs, who boasted future Real Madrid Galacticos Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, made things incredibly interesting in the 89th minute when Jermaine Jenas curled a goal past Almunia. Then, as the clock ticked past the ninetieth minute, Luka Modric struck a beautiful shot that smacked off the post and into the path of Aaron Lennon who tucked it home to give Tottenham a season-defining derby draw that would ‘spur’ them on to climbing the table to ultimately finish eighth. Arsenal wouldn’t be able to muster any real challenge and would finish in their customary fourth position.
4. Michael Owen (Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City; 20/09/2009)
Manchester United headed into the 2009/2010 season looking to claim their fourth consecutive title yet entered the derby at Old Trafford three points behind Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea. City were in-fact level on points with their cross-town neighbours and sat in fourth place and were in their second full season under the new Abu Dhabi ownership. Wayne Rooney, who would become the top-scorer in the derby’s history, put United in-front a mere two minutes into the tie only for Gareth Barry to quickly equalise. In the second half, once again United went in-front (this time courtesy of Darren Fletcher) only for City to peg them back instantly through Craig Bellamy. The last ten minutes produced some of the most incredible scenes in the history of the Premier League as Fletcher’s eightieth minute goal was cancelled out bang-on the ninetieth minute via the tenacity of Craig Bellamy and City were on their way to a crucial point at the home of their bitter rivals. However, United’s latest acquisition and past-his-prime Michael Owen was played through in the 96th minute to score past his former Newcastle teammate Shay Given and hand the derby victory to United, with City manager Mark Hughes absolutely dumfounded at the amount of time added on. Ferguson was elated and had secured another iconic ‘Fergie-Time’ victory. United would miss out on the title by a point to Chelsea however whilst City would miss out on a Champions League place by three. Nevertheless, they would avenge this late sucker-punch just under three years later.
5. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City 3-2 Queens Park Rangers; 13/05/2012)
Manchester City’s 2011/12 Premier League campaign had gotten off to a blockbuster start as they annihilated Spurs 1-5 at White Hart Lane, destroyed their neighbours United 1-6 at Old Trafford and beaten Arsenal and Liverpool in convincing fashion. However, a run in March saw them lose twice, draw twice and only win their game against Chelsea whereas Manchester United claimed the top-spot. With the derby looming on the 30th April, United would stutter, confounded by their 4-4 collapse at home to Everton. Suddenly, City had the chance to leapfrog their rivals on goal-difference with two games to go. They obliged, beat United, went up to Newcastle and won 0-2 and only had to beat relegation-threatened QPR on the final day to lift their first title for over forty years. Pablo Zabaleta put them in-front before the break but in the space of eighteen mad second-half minutes that included daylight assault from Joey Barton that earned him a red card, QPR took a 2-1 lead and City, their players, fans and Roberto Mancini were desperate and distraught. To make matters worse, United would win at Sunderland and when the whistle blew at the Stadium of Light, Alex Ferguson and his players were, at that moment, Champions. With four minutes added at the Etihad, Edin Dzeko equalised with a bullet of a header. What followed was the most dramatic moment in the League’s astonishing history as Mario Balotelli produced the only assist he would ever make in a Manchester City shirt to Sergio Aguero who smashed it past the QPR keeper and send everyone, bar Man United fans, completely mental. Aguero had won City’s maiden Premier League title with a 94th minute winner. Martin Tyler, ever the voice for the big occasion, screamed “AGUERROOO” as the event unfolded and City were, in that moment, established as a Premier League heavyweight force.