2018 was a bit weird, wasn’t it?
England’s government basically collapsed, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in walked around a nice garden together, & Vladimir Putin ‘won’ another presidential election.
Oh, and most importantly, football almost came ‘home’.
2018 was so nearly the year in which England won their first World Cup since 1966. And because of this, for many, the abiding memory of 2018 will not be the shambolic Brexit negotiations; it won’t be Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in becoming best mates; and it won’t be Vladimir Putin’s Russian ‘re-election’.
Rather, it’ll be the football, and it’ll be the emotions that the football stirred in us all in 2018 – the excitement, the euphoria & even the melancholy.
So with that in mind, here are some of the 90min’s editorial team’s favourite football moments of 2018, in their own words.
Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Manchester City at the Etihad
It’d have to be that time United ruined City’s day of celebration with the ultimate smash and grab job at the Etihad.
I was there. Third or fourth row. The first half was the worst, United should have been four or five down at half time. But it was only two. Then, this weirdest Manchester United team I’ve ever seen mustered one of the most brilliant comebacks – two from sky blue-haired Paul Pogba, who finally turned up when his team needed him most, and then Chris Smalling won it.
After getting jeered and things thrown at us at 2-0, it was the sweetest. The stadium was silenced. And while United lost at home to West Brom a week later and City won the league, that day is a fond, fond memory. Did a decent job with the video too…
England’s Penalty Shootout Win Over Colombia
It’s so English and so Brexit, but England’s penalty shootout victory against Colombia is easily my favourite footballing moment from 2018.
Three Lions fans have become accustomed to mediocrity over the past ten years or so, so to see a team hold its nerve in one of the strenuous situations in football was so joyous, especially after Jordan Henderson had a tame effort saved.
When Eric Dier slammed home the winning penalty after Jordan Pickford‘s save, the feeling wasn’t just of happiness, it was also of relief that an England team didn’t bottle it and made their position of strength count.
Sure, England fans may have antagonised the rest of the world with their overly exuberant chants of ‘It’s Coming Home’ and looked a little foolish after the semi final exit to Croatia, but for most supporters the thrill of the ride made the summer truly unforgettable.
Kieran Trippier’s Free Kick in the World Cup Semi Final
It’s from the World Cup. Obviously it’s from the World Cup. I’d love to be all cool and cynical and do something legitimately hilarious like Milad Mohammadi’s forward roll throw-in, but you know what? That’s not it. No.
It’s that minute of pure, unfiltered joy when Kieran Trippier stepped up against Croatia and curled a free kick past Danijel Subašić in the fifth minute of the World Cup semi final.
I’ve never had much of a connection to the England national team. More than that, I’ve never had anything approaching hope for them, much less faith. Even when the Sweden game was out the way, it didn’t feel real. I couldn’t let myself believe. But in the moment that Kieran Trippier scored that goal, and in the 78 minutes after it, I was surrounded (and jumping on top of, and bouncing off) some of my favourite people in the world in a pub in Camden, and I’d never loved football more.
Sorry. That’s not witty. But it’s true.
Mario Mandzukic’s Extra Time Winner in the World Cup Semi Final
It’s from the World Cup. Obviously it’s from the World Cup. I’d love to be all cool and cynical and do something legitimately hilarious like Diego Maradona’s messianic poses during the Argentina games, but you know what? That’s not it. No.
It’s that minute of pure, unfiltered joy when Mario Mandzukic latched onto a loose ball in the England penalty area to volley the ball past Jordan Pickford in the 109th minute of the World Cup semi final.
I’ve never had much of a connection to the Croatian national team. More than that, I’ve never had anything approaching hope for them, much less faith. Even when the Russia game was out the way, it didn’t feel real. I couldn’t let myself believe. But in the moment that Mario Mandzukic scored that goal, and in the 11 minutes after it, I was surrounded (and jumping on top of, and bouncing off) some of the most annoyed English fans in the world in the 90min offices, and I’d never loved football more.
Sorry. That’s not witty. But it’s true.
Belgium’s 2-1 Win Over Brazil in the World Cup Quarter Finals
Easy choice for me, seeing as this was a World Cup year and my Diables Rouges were facing a tough battle against the Brazilians.
The fact that few had us winning this game only made the match that much sweeter, especially when Kevin De Bruyne hammered in that screamer that loosed a roar from my lungs that only pure football joy can create. Sure, losing to France sucked, but I’ll never forget that win that took us to the semi finals.
Divock Origi’s Dramatic Merseyside Derby Winner
The Merseyside Derby arrived at a critical juncture for Liverpool. The Reds were struggling to impress in their last few Premier League matches, despite coming out on top, and were fresh off two Champions League group stage losses against PSG and Red Star Belgrade.
After Manchester City managed to increase their lead in the table to five points, the pressure was on Liverpool, and for 95 minutes, it seemed that they wouldn’t be able to close the gap.
Step forward Divock Origi.
In their last attempt to break the stalemate, Liverpool sent everyone forward for a set piece. Virgil van Dijk made a wild punt at the ball sending it skyward, in what appeared to be another wasted effort. But the ball came down and remained in play, as Everton keeper Jordan Pickford fumbled it onto the crossbar. Origi, the unlikeliest of heroes, was there to head the ball in and give Liverpool the dramatic victory.
It was an ugly goal in an ugly game, but in the short term it proved to the Liverpool players and fans that they have the mentality and luck to simply win, even when they don’t deserve it.
Eden Hazard’s Anfield Wonder Goal
I wanted to give a shout-out to Luka Modric for finally breaking the Ballon d’Or duopoly, and going some way to making up for Wesley Sneijder’s egregious snubbing in 2010.
Seeing as this is 90min – home of the Liverpool #agenda – and, as a Chelsea fan, it’s got to be Eden Hazard’s wondrous goal at Anfield. Because it was ‘only’ in the League Cup, and there’s been a barrage of ‘more important’ Premier League goals since, I think it’s been glossed over.
But not only was it the greatest individual goal I’ve seen this year, it also had the perfect cocktail of:
1) Being meaningful – it was an 85th minute winner.
2) It was at Anfield.
3) It was at the AWAY end.
That last factor is key – jubilant background celebrations are integral for any goal to stand the test of time. Hopefully this one will. Watch in French for 100% satisfaction.
Felipe Anderson to West Ham United
There was a huge part of me that wanted to go with Gareth Bale’s overhead kick against Liverpool in the Champions League final.
Why? Because it was stunning. Why not? Because it’s glaringly obvious.
Instead, I’m going for a moment that has far more meaning than that piece of wonderful individual brilliance. I am, of course, talking about the day that Felipe Anderson signed on the dotted line for West Ham.
Courted for months in a long and drawn out he probably won’t come scenario, I had resigned myself to the fact that he probably wasn’t going to come to east London. But thankfully I was wrong, and now we’re at a point in the season where Anderson is showing everybody just how good he is.
We don’t have an awful lot to shout about down at the London Stadium you see, but this is an exception. The day he joined, expectation rose once more that we can perhaps do something special under Manuel Pellegrini. And slowly but surely, Anderson is living up to the billing. He’s a class act and his signing is hopefully the catalyst for prolonged and sustained improvement.
Bring it on.