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What are football’s biggest wins or comebacks by teams with 10 men? | Football

“Bayern beat Stuttgart 4-0 last weekend despite having a man sent off with the score at 0-0,” tweets Dan Almond. “What’s the biggest victory by a team reduced to 10 men? And what’s the biggest deficit 10 men have overcome to win?”

We haven’t been able to top Bayern’s 4-0 win, but there are still plenty of examples worth mentioning of 10 men overcoming 11. Let’s start at Stamford Bridge in April 2006. The leaders and champions Chelsea had dropped five points in the previous three games and were in danger of being caught by Manchester United. They were in even more trouble when, after going a goal down, they had Maniche sent off. The response was awesome. With Didier Drogba at his most unplayable, Chelsea’s 10 men battered West Ham 4-1, and went on to win the title at a canter.

There are two other comebacks that spring immediately to mind. Yugoslavia were 3-0 down against Slovenia at Euro 2000 when Sinisa Mihajlovic got himself sent off. A fairytale win for Slovenia, who were playing their first game at a major tournament, looked inevitable. Maybe that was the problem: when Yugoslavia got one back, Slovenia started to panic, and the match finished in a pulsating 3-3 draw.

Nottingham Forest’s players had a different reason for throwing away a lead against 10-man Newcastle in the 1974 FA Cup quarter-finals. Forest were 3-1 up at St James’ Park when one local supporter decided to start a riot, as detailed in this contemporary Guardian report:

Only a spark was needed to set alight combustible feelings, and a balding middle-aged looking pugilist provided it. His paunch exposed, his shirt flying, this heavyweight bare-knuckle fighter set his arms flailing like a windmill and at least five policemen were needed to cool his ardour and pin him to the muddy turf. But the damage had been done and the crowd went haring down the pitch to the Gallowgate end.

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There were 39 arrests and 25 people were taken to hospital, two with fractured skulls. Forest’s Dave Serella was punched in the face. The players were taken off the field; when the game restarted, Forest surrendered to a 4-3 defeat. The FA eventually ordered the game to be replayed, though Newcastle went through anyway.

Yes, yes, we’ll get to another FA Cup tie soon enough. But first let’s take a detour via Italy. One of the most surprising results of the golden age of Serie A occurred in April 1997, when Udinese walloped the European champions 3-0 in Turin. Udinese were an excellent side and finished third that season, but it was still an astonishing result – not least because they had Régis Genaux sent off after three minutes with the score 0-0. Juventus also missed two penalties.

We’ve saved the best for last, one of the wildest FA Cup ties of all. “A famous example was Tottenham v Manchester City in the 2003-04 FA Cup,” writes Mike Devlin. “Spurs were 3-0 up by half-time and, as the players were leaving the pitch, Joey Barton got a second yellow and was sent off. Fast forward another 45 minutes and City had won 4-3.” City manager Kevin Keegan called it “the cup tie of my lifetime”. As for his sombre counterpart David Pleat: “We have let ourselves down and the supporters will be gutted.”

Jon Macken heads home to complete City’s comeback in February 2004.
Jon Macken heads home to complete City’s comeback in February 2004. Photograph: Max Nash/AP

Soundtrack taste

“I am sure that, many years ago, When Saturday Comes claimed a lower-tier Scottish team used to run on the pitch to the sound of Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere,” tweets John Tumbridge. “Is this true, who was it? And are there any other odd examples?”

We can’t find any evidence of Talking Heads blaring out of Scottish clubs’ PA systems but given that David Byrne was born in Dumbarton there’s a chance it has been played at The Rock. It would be fitting given The Sons’ fondness for mid-table finishes. Anyway, here’s an answer to the second part of the question. “When Doncaster Rovers still played at Belle Vue, for many years the end-of-game music, regardless of the result, was Mary Hopkin’s Those were the Days,” writes Dave Newsome. “As a lament for past glories, it may sadly have been often appropriate. Even now hearing the song takes me back to trudging home through back-alleys under the glare of the badly positioned floodlights.”

The ill-fated 2016 FA Cup final four

“With Richie Wellens joining Kenny Jackett in the jobcentre queue, is this the quickest two managers have been sacked after a cup final?” wonders Jack Tanner.

Fred Sullivan has a spin on this. “In May 2016, the managers of both losing FA Cup semi-finalists – Watford’s Quique Sánchez Flores and Everton’s Roberto Martínez – lost their jobs along with Louis van Gaal, who managed Manchester United to victory in the final. The only person who managed a team in the semis that year to keep his job past the summer was Alan Pardew at Palace, and he didn’t make it past Christmas.”

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Knowledge archive

“I was looking through the records for my club, Sheffield Wednesday, and I noticed that the record for oldest goalscorer is held by goalkeeper Mark Crossley, who scored an injury-time header when we drew 3-3 with Southampton in 2006,” noted Andrew Worton back in 2017. “How many other clubs have a scoring record held by their keeper?”

Nathan Eaton took us back to a blustery St Mary’s some years ago. “My club, Stoke City, doesn’t just have a club record held by a goalkeeper, but a world goalscoring record. When Asmir Begovic scored the opening goal against Southampton in a 1-1 draw in November 2013, his wind-assisted 97.5-yard strike became the longest distance goal ever recorded in the professional game, earning him an official Guinness World Record.”

Tom Unwin got in touch to remind us about a Premier League legend’s feat at Goodison Park. “My thoughts turned instantly to my beloved Aston Villa. In October 2001, a 37-year-old Peter Schmeichel scored for Villa at Everton, though unfortunately his goal wasn’t as dramatic as Mark Crossley’s, this effort being a last-minute consolation in a 3-2 defeat which I believe makes him the oldest Aston Villa goalscorer. From further research, this goal broke another record: Schmeichel was also the first keeper to score in the Premier League.”

Can you help?

“Is the Republic of Ireland (42nd) losing to Luxembourg (98th), the biggest difference in Fifa rankings for an international upset?” asks Jon McGuckin.

“Recently, the Seattle Sounders released a Jimi Hendrix-inspired kit,” writes Rashaad Jorden. “Have any other clubs released kits inspired by or paying tribute to musicians?”

“Beitar Jerusalem midfielder Yarden Shua has made 27 league appearances this season, even though Beitar have only played 26 games,” explains Simon Burnton. “He played two games for Maccabi Haifa before the Israeli league’s lockdown in September, but when he moved to the capital Beitar had only played once. Has anyone previously played more games in a league season than there are games in a league season?”

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