They Thought It Was All Over

Tab Sports finds the best victories at the death. Featuring Beckham’s free-kick heroics.

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In the challenge cup semi-final last weekend Leeds Rhinos left it till the 79th minute before coming from behind against Wigan. In what was effectively their last attack of the game, Lee Smith stepped his way across the line to break Wigan hearts.

Tab sports has compiled a list of other improbable last minute victories and scores.

Football – Becks the Hero

The free kick that secured Beckam’s place in English football folklore occurred in the 93rd minute of England’s world cup qualifiers in 2002. With the score at 2-1 to Greece and England needing at least a draw in order to automatically qualify for the finals the stage was set for golden balls. Having already missed five long-range free kicks earlier in the match, Beckham finally secured England’s place in the finals with a devilish strike that curled into the left top corner of keeper Nikopolidis’ goal. It was a fitting reward for Beckham who had almost single-handedly carried England through the game.


Vlad the Lad – Russkis leave it late

When it comes to water polo there are no greater rivals than Russia and Hungary. The pair met in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and the passionate nature of their rivalry, turbo-charged by the Russian invasion of Hungary, was evident. Police had to be called in to prevent what may have developed into a full-scale riot after a Hungarian player was left bloodied by a Soviet adversary. Whilst the final of the 2002 water polo world cup did not witness such pugilistic scenes, it was a nonetheless fiercely fought encounter. Olympic champions Hungary were bested in the last minute by their Russian counterparts. Defeat proved even harder to swallow for the Hungarians as Revaz Chomakhidze’s winner was more a shot taken in desperation than a smart end to a concerted attack.

Six Nations – Scots scorched by Shane

In a match that Scotland should have won a try from the talismanic Shane Williams in overtime left Scotland coach Andy Robinson kicking his chair with frustration. Arguably Scotland had themselves to blame. In the last five minutes of the game two silly infringements, including Phil Goodman’s cynical trip on Lee Byrne, saw Scotland playing with only 13 men. Wales made them pay. With the scores at 24-24 and the clock at 80 minutes, Wales kept the ball alive and Shane Williams was able to dive in under the posts.

“The Catch” – Steelers super bowl stunner

One of the most thrilling super bowls in history the Pittsburgh Steelers held off a late surge from the underdog Arizona cardinals to secure their record 6th super bowl title with a 27-23 win. With 2:37 remaining on the game clock the Cardinals had taken the lead thanks to a 64 yard touchdown pass from Kurt Warner to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. With the score at 23-20 Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger marched his team 78 yards down the field in 8 plays. The drive was topped off with a 6 yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left on the clock. It was Holmes’ 4 catch of the drive and his performance was rewarded with the MVP (most valuable player award). While David Tyree’s catch against the Patriots is a more “immaculate reception” and Lynn Swann’s Nureyev-esque take in Super Bowl X more athletic, Santonio Holmes’ catch unquestionably tops the drama stakes.


LeBron James you are ridiculous

In terms of athleticism and sheer sporting freakishness LeBron James is pretty much unmatched. Twenty years after Michael Jordan had beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers with a last-second score, LeBron James repeated the feat but this time it was the Cavaliers who snuck home at the death. James sank a three-pointer from “down town” as the game clock expired to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 96-95 victory over Orlando in game two of the NBA’s best-of-seven Eastern Conference final in 2009. James commented “I got that out of my Michael Jordan bag of tricks. It’s the biggest shot I’ve ever made in my career.”