With the highest quality of play at the club level, soccer in England never fails to disappoint. The passionate devotion of fans and world-class talent across the board is practically unrivaled. And though we usually associate English football’s greatness with powerhouses like Manchester United and Chelsea, it doesn’t just apply to the most renowned English league, the Barclay’s Premier League.
Sunday morning featured two obscure npower Championship (the league a notch lower than the EPL) teams, Watford and Leicester City, squaring off in the 2nd leg of the league championship’s semi-final. The victor of the matchup would advance to the championship at Wembley Stadium, and a shot at every npower Championship team’s dream: a promotion to the gloried Premier League.
Leicester won the first semi-final leg at home, 1-0, and had the luxury of three different ways to advance to the championship regarding the 2nd leg: a win, a tie, or a loss by one goal (and scoring one themselves).
As the game drew to a close, Watford was leading Leicester 2-1, but losing in score differential (2-2, but Leicester had the away goal). 6 minutes and 30 seconds into extra time, Leicester had the opportunity to ice the game with a penalty shot. With a fantastic save by the Watford goalkeeper–and another on a rebound shot–Watford cleared the ball out of their own penalty area, starting an urgent, and definitive, counter-attack the other way. Watford sped down the right flank, culminating in a cross into Leicester’s penalty area, a perfectly headed-down ball, and a rocket shot into the net by Troy Deneey (and catapulting Watford into the league championship in the process).
This fantastical finish brings back memories from another similar feat in English football: Manchester City clinching the EPL title on a last-second goal from Sergio Aguero on the last day of the season. Though this was on a much greater stage, the fact that Watford’s astounding turnaround occurred in a mere 20 seconds might eclipse Manchester City’s comparable, breathtaking feat.
Here’s a YouTube clip of one of the best examples of “why we watch the beautiful game”, with an enthused narration by a usual, invigorated English commentator.