5 Most Exciting Soccer Matches of the 21st Century

Liverpool vs AC Milan – Champions League Final 2005
(Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

Soccer is still the most popular sport to follow around the world and has billions of fans on a global scale. When you look at the action served up by top leagues such as the Bundesliga, in competitions such as the Europa League and on an international scale, it is easy to see why.

Soccer is also popular with many people because it is a great sport to bet on. This allows fans to inject more excitement into games they are watching and find a new way to get closer to their favorite game. This is especially true in the USA now, where the growth of soccer as a sport goes hand in hand with legislation allowing sports betting in many states. If you plan to bet on soccer yourself, just remember to look online first for the top US online sportsbook sites to sign-up with. 

The other great thing about this sport for fans is that there are always new games to catch and new headlines to read. The 21st century has been a golden age to date and has had some amazing matches. But which have been the most exciting?  

1. Liverpool vs AC Milan – Champions League Final 2005

Liverpool vs AC Milan – Champions League Final 2005
(Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

If you are looking for edge of the seat games from the 21st century, this is one you cannot ignore. It had Liverpool from the English Premier League taking on Serie A’s AC Milan in the Champions League Final in 2005. 

Going into the game, a Milan team studded with stars such as Cafu, Maldini, Kaka, Pirlo and Crespo were hot favorites. Scoring in the very first minute, Milan dominated the first half and swept to a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead. Many people thought the match was over as the teams came out for the second half – but this was not true. 

A dazzling six-minute spell resulted in Liverpool scoring twice and then a Xabi Alonso penalty levelled the scores up. By now, the team from Merseyside were on top, but they couldn’t get a winner and the match went to penalties. With Liverpool leading in the shootout, Shevchenko had his penalty saved by Dudek. This handed the English team the win and crowned an awesome comeback. 

2. Barcelona vs. PSG — 2016/17 UEFA Champions League round of 16

This match is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable comebacks in football and also one of the most exciting. PSG won the first leg of the tie by a stunning 4-0 scoreline. However, in the second leg, Barcelona overcame a four-goal deficit to win the game 6-1. It was an enthralling game with stunning Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, and Neymar, while the winning goal came from Sergi Roberto.

3. Manchester City vs. QPR — Premier League May 13, 2012

This soccer match will forever be remembered by every soccer fan. Before the game, there was so much on the line for both Man City and Queens Park Rangers. Man City needed a win to lift their first-ever Premier League title, while QPR wanted to win to escape relegation.

QPR were 2-1 up going into stoppage, and it seemed that they had destroyed City’s title hopes.

However, Edin Dzeko equalized for Man City when he headed home after 92 minutes. And the big moment came when Sergio Aguero scored a goal in the dying moments to give Man City their first Premier League title.

4. Barcelona vs Real Madrid – La Liga 2010/11 season 

Barca were outstanding in the 2010/11 La Liga season and at the peak of their Pep Guardiola era. At the time, Guardiola was busy guiding the Catalan club to multiple trophies under his reign, while Jose Mourinho was in the hot seat at Los Blanco’s. Although Mourinho had enjoyed a fine start to life in Madrid, it all ended in this game. Few would have predicted a Barcelona 5 – Real Madrid 0 score beforehand though!

Barca were simply unplayable and battered Real throughout. Combining sharp passing with attacking intent, they ripped through the team from Madrid. In the midfield, Iniesta, Xavi and Busquets were impeccable for Barcelona and Messi was similarly in top form up front for them. David Villa also played very well and netted two goals that night. 

5. Zambia vs Ivory Coast – AFCON Final 2012 

The 2012 African Cup of Nations Final was a real underdog story. This is probably what makes it stand out as one of the most thrilling soccer games in the 21st century. Zambia had enjoyed a tournament upsetting the odds but were not fancied by many to beat the Ivory Coast. Their opponents after all were filled with top global stars such as Didier Drogba and Gervinho. 

Showing superb inner strength and team spirit, Zambia managed to emerge triumphant after a nail-biting penalty shootout. Before that, a pulsating game had seen Drogba miss a penalty in normal time to hand his team the cup. 

An outstanding defensive display by Zambia kept the Ivory Coast at bay through extra time and led to the lottery of penalties. Amazingly, the first 14 penalties were all scored, but Gervinho eventually missed for the Ivory Coast. This allowed Stoppila Sunzu to score for Zambia and secure the win. While Nigeria vs South Africa in AFCON 2019 was a top game, it just fails to match this one for sheer drama.

Thrilling soccer matches for the 21st century 

Soccer is so popular with fans because it is an exciting sport to watch and delivers lots of adrenaline-fueled action. This is especially true in the 21st century, where the talent and skill on show in games is immense. Some matches though linger longer in the memory than others for the drama they delivered. The above games are superb examples of this and show just why so many people follow this sport. 

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