Ronaldo's Backheel Magic and the Greatest World Football Moments of the Weekend
When Real Madrid shelled out £80 million for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, it looked like they had paid an embarrassingly high premium. Now, the deal looks like an absolute steal. The world's greatest player rescued Real Madrid in injury time with his 31st league goal of the season—a backheel flick of astounding quality.
Ronaldo's wonder strike is just one of the great moments of the weekend from the beautiful game...
Ross Barkley Shined as Manchester City Dented Liverpool's Title Prospects
Manchester City went back to the top of the Premier League on goal difference with a 3-2 win at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Everton fans were mortally offended by the suggestion that they would be satisfied with the result, but it had the inadvertent benefit of denting the title aspirations of their neighbours Liverpool.
The star of the show was Ross Barkley, the man Roberto Martinez rightfully likens to Paul Gascoigne and Michael Ballack.
The 20-year-old put on a world-class display and scored a fantastic curling goal in the 11th minute.
Birmingham Beat the Championship Drop in Dramatic Fashion
There was last-minute drama at both ends of the Championship on Saturday, with Reading being denied a play-off place in the dying minutes (more on that shortly) and Birmingham surviving by the skin of their teeth.
Birmingham were losing 2-1 to Bolton at the Reebok Stadium with 90 minutes on the clock, a result that would have condemned them to a spot in League One next year. However, Paul Caddis found the net deep into stoppage time, meaning the Midlands side switched places with poor Doncaster Rovers, who were defeated 1-0 by Championship winners Leicester.
Going down on goal difference in the final few seconds of the season is a bitter pill to swallow for Donny, but that kind of drama is why we love this game.
Reading Fans Staged an Epic Pitch Invasion Fail
Reading drew 2-2 with Burnley and believed they had secured a spot in the Championship play-offs as fellow play-off contenders Brighton were only able to hold Nottingham Forest to a 1-1 draw.
So delighted were the Royals with the prospect of potentially joining Burnley and Leicester in the Premier League next season that they invaded the pitch at full-time.
However, there must have been an issue with mobile data at the Madejski Stadium as the news that Brighton had actually scored a 90th-minute winner at City Ground failed to filter through, meaning the final play-off place went to the Seagulls.
Fulham and Cardiff Bid Adieu to the Top Flight
Thanks to Sunderland's surprising win over Manchester United (more on that shortly), defeats for Cardiff and Fulham means fans of both teams can look forward to trips to the likes of Millwall and Blackpool next season.
Cardiff were defeated 3-0 by a Newcastle team that has been on the beach for weeks, while Stoke helped to end Fulham's 13-year stint in the top flight with a 4-1 thrashing at the Britannia.
Meanwhile, by holding Chelsea to a stalemate on Sunday, Norwich managed to keep their Premier League dream alive a little longer.
The relegation situation could get very litigious very soon, on account of the Premier League's controversial—and, arguably, inconsistent—decision not to dock the Black Cats any points for fielding an ineligible player earlier in the season. According to The Daily Mail, Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich could "lawyer up" in the near future.
Sunderland Ruined Ryan Giggs' 100 Percent Managerial Record
Thanks to some poor results and some even poorer league performances, Sunderland looked dead and buried a few months ago, but have staged a Lazarus-style comeback with some huge results against bigger sides in recent weeks.
After taking points from Manchester City and Chelsea, the Black Cats' took a huge step towards survival by winning at Old Trafford for the first time since 1968.
Despite enjoying 63 percent possession, per the BBC, Ryan Giggs' side were sunk by Sebastian Larsson's 30th-minute strike, which was Sunderland's only shot on target in the game.
The BBC also provide another ugly statistic for Manchester United fans to swallow in a forgettable season: they have now lost seven home league games this season, the worst the Old Trafford faithful have had to endure since 1973-74, when the Red Devils were relegated.
Claudio Pizarro Scored an Overhead Golazo
Since Bayern Munich wrapped up the title, Claudio Pizarro has been earning more minutes on the field. The Peruvian has certainly made his presence known, with four goals in his last four appearances.
On Saturday, Bayern Munich left Hamburg in the Bundesliga relegation zone with a 4-1 victory. The star of the show was Mario Gotze, who bagged two goals and an assist, but Pizarro put the icing on the Bavarian cake with a delectable overhead volley in the 75th minute.
Not a bad strike for a player who will turn 36 later this year.
Cristiano Ronaldo Scored a Stupendous Equaliser Against Valencia
Against all expectations, none of the three teams in the La Liga title race managed a win between them over the weekend—the first time such a thing has happened this season.
Atletico Madrid suffered a post-Champions League defeat at Levante, Barcelona were held 2-2 by Getafe and Real Madrid drew by the same score at home to Valencia.
Los Blancos looked to be heading to a defeat that would have left them six points behind their city neighbours in the title race, but a young fellow named Cristiano Ronaldo saved the day in the 93rd minute with a ridiculously good backheel flick.
The Portuguese superstar also claimed an assist for Sergio Ramos' goal just before the hour, but missed a great chance to win the game shortly after his injury-time equaliser.
Gary Mendes Rodrigues Scored a Belter for Elche
Elche's bid for survival received a huge boost on Saturday thanks to a 1-0 win at Malaga.
The game was decided by winger Gary Mendes Rodrigues, who fired an unstoppable shot from around 30 yards to beat Willy Caballero in the Malaga goal in the 11th minute.
Rodrigues, on loan from Levski Sofia, had not found the net this season prior to this wonder strike.
The Coppa Italia Final Was Marred by Violence
Roma's 4-1 loss to Catania handed Juventus their third consecutive and 30th Scudetto (or 32nd, depending on who you ask) on Sunday, but this weekend also saw Fiorentina and Napoli compete in the Coppa Italia final.
Napoli won their fifth Italian Cup title thanks to a brace from Lorenzo Insigne and a late strike from Dries Mertens in a 3-1 victory. However, the game was marred by violence outside the Stadio Olimpico before kick-off, as three Napoli fans suffered gunshot wounds. According to The Guardian, well-known Italian ultra Daniele De Santis is being held for attempted murder.
The game was delayed by 45 minutes, and only went ahead after Napoli captain Marek Hamsik took to the stands to calm the situation and assure the match could go ahead without further issue.
Although some further delays occurred when the travelling Neopolitan contingent threw flares at the pitch, the game was able to be completed.