The top ten matches of the year

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thegreat

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1) Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal

Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League after an Anfield classic against Arsenal but Andrey Arshavin's remarkable four-goal haul delivered a serious blow to their title ambitions. The Russian put Arsenal ahead from Cesc Fabregas' cross nine minutes before the interval, but Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun struck early in the second half to give Liverpool the advantage. But as Liverpool tried to capitalise on their supremacy, Arshavin struck twice in the space of three minutes midway through the second half. Torres scored on the turn to put Liverpool level again before Arsenal swept forward for Arshavin to drive an emphatic finish past Reina in the dying seconds. Benayoun scrambled home five minutes into stoppage time to rescue a draw for Liverpool.

2)Man Utd 4-3 Man City

Michael Owen's winner deep into stoppage time gave Manchester United a dramatic victory in a classic derby encounter at Old Trafford. Owen pounced in the sixth minute of injury time to slot past Shay Given to steal all three points for the home side. Craig Bellamy looked to have earned City an unlikely point as they came from behind for the third time to level only seconds before the end of the 90 minutes.

3)England 5-1 Croatia

England secured qualification for next summer's World Cup in South Africa in the most emphatic style as they thrashed Croatia at Wembley. A stunning first-half performance by Aaron Lennon down the flank and it was he who was pulled down to give England the lead through Frank Lampard's penalty. He then delivered the perfect cross for Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard to double England's lead before further goals from Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney banished the memory of losing to Croatia and Euro 2008 elimination.

4)Man City 4-2 Arsenal

Emmanuel Adebayor silenced the taunts of Arsenal fans as he inspired Manchester City to a fourth successive Premier League victory - but sparked fury among his former supporters inside Eastlands with a provocative solo goal celebration. Adebayor also appeared to kick out at Robin van Persie during an eventful second-half and his antics took some of the gloss off a City performance that also included goals from Richards, Bellamy and Wright Phillips from the home side and Van Persie and Rosicky for the visitors, who were 4-1 down until the Czech's late reply.

5)Tottenham 9-1 Wigan

Jermain Defoe scored five second-half goals as Tottenham humiliated Wigan to record their highest top-flight win. Peter Crouch headed Spurs ahead, while Defoe scored from six yards after the break and then from a tight angle. An unmarked Paul Scharner replied but Defoe notched from eight yards and Aaron Lennon scored with a low strike. Defoe scored with two more crisp finishes, while Chris Kirkland scored an unfortunate own goal and Niko Kranjcar smashed home the ninth.

6)France 1-1 Ireland

The Republic of Ireland suffered cruellest of World Cup exits as France went through with a goal which should have been disallowed for handball. Ireland dominated the match for long periods and deservedly took the lead when Robbie keane slotted home on 33 minutes. Ireland carved out enough clear-cut chances to win in normal time, but the match went the distance and turned on an outrageous handball from Thierry Henry, who kept the ball in play and prodded across for William Gallas to score the decisive goal and break Irish hearts.

7)Man Utd 5-2 Tottenham

A controversial penalty and sensational second-half fightback helped Manchester United beat Tottenham and retain their grip on top spot in the Premier League. Darren Bent smashed home from close range and Luka Modric converted Aaron Lennon's cross as Spurs dominated the first half at Old Trafford. But Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the spot after Heurelho Gomes was harshly ruled to have felled Michael Carrick. Wayne Rooney quickly equalised before further goals for Ronaldo, Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov secured the victory.

8)Falkirk 3-3 Celtic

Bottom-of-the-table Falkirk finally found their shooting boots to share six goals in a thrilling tussle with Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic. Robert Olejnik made a double-save to keep out Aiden McGeady's penalty before Gary Caldwell headed Celtic in front. Scott Arfield replied from the penalty spot and Pedro Moutinho volleyed Falkirk into a surprise lead. Scott McDonald came off the bench to restore Celtic's lead with a brace but Mark Stewart hit the leveller for the home side.

9)Real Madrid 2-3 AC Milan

Alexandre Pato saved the blushes of fellow Brazilian Dida with a brace as AC Milan stunned Real Madrid 3-2 at the Bernabeu. For a while it looked as though Dida's dreadful first-half error, which allowed Raul to give Madrid a half-time lead, would cost Milan dear but Pato popped up in the 88th minute to volley home his side`s winner and inflict only a second competitive defeat of the season on their big-spending hosts.

10)Norwich 1-7 Colchester

Norwich slumped to a huge defeat as Bryan Gunn's Championship return bid began in utterly disastrous fashion. Keeper Michael Theoklitos missed his punch to hand Kevin Lisbie Colchester's first, and Clive Platt finished into an unguarded net three minutes later. Platt got a second at the back post, David Fox curled in a free kick, Lisbie headed another, David Perkins scored a volley and Scott Vernon tapped in. Cody McDonald converted a flick-on for Norwich but angry fans confronted Gunn. Colchester had bagged five goals by the 40th minute, by which time Norwich supporters were already heading for the exits.
 
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