FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Schladming. | CHRISTIAN BRUNA


January has been the month of the wild finish in sporting events around the world. Without the high profile and global audience of Man United’s Champions League win in 1999, or Man City’s Premiership title in 2012, the matches have been every bit as dramatic.

It all started two weeks ago when 5,000 Cheltenham Town fans were sent home distraught after Charlton equalised with the last kick of the game to deny the hosts three points and steal one for themselves in a mid-table League 1 tussle.

Three days later, Tottenham served up a thrilling finish at Leicester when Steven Bergwijn scored in the 95th and 97th minutes to put Spurs back into the top four and see their delirious fans celebrating all the way back to north London.

Then last weekend, the sports world went mad.

In Madrid, the obituaries were being written for Diego Simeone’s career at Atletico as they went two down in the first half at home to Valencia.

Having cut the deficit in half in the second period, a wild finish sent the home fans ecstatic as first Correa and then Hermoso scored in injury time on a night of high drama.
Derby County were given a last-minute stay of execution before the barely thinkable closure of one of the 12 founder members of the football league in 1888. 30,000 will be at Pride Park today as the Rams take on Birmingham City, hoping for a miracle buyer to save the club.

Over in the United States, American Football was down to its divisional round in the NFL playoffs last weekend, which is basically the quarter finals of the Super Bowl.
Every one of the four matches went to the final kick as the Cincinnati Bengals, the San Francisco 49ers, the defending champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers (against the legendary Tom Brady at the LA Rams) and the Kansas City Chiefs, all hit field goals in the dying seconds.

For the Chiefs, it was a long 49 yard kick that sent an extraordinary game, where the lead changed hands three times in the final two minutes, into the wildest of finishes. In overtime the Chiefs scored a touchdown on the first drive to win one of the most thrilling games in American Football.

The winners of the two matches today will face off in the Super Bowl in LA next Sunday. Meanwhile, in Austria, Dave Ryding from Chorley became the first British skier in history to win an alpine skiing World Cup event when he won the most famous race of the calendar with victory in the slalom in Kitzbuhel and scooped the 100,000 euro first prize.

The 35 year old is having a wild finish to his career with the Winter Olympic Games starting in Beijing later this week. Tune in on Wednesday February 16 to see if he can continue that form to win a medal.

In Australia, tennis player Alizé Cornet is enjoying a wild finish to her career as the 32 year old reached the quarter finals of a Gran Slam for the first time ever.

It is the French woman’s 60th consecutive Grand Slam appearance, two short of the all time record. If Majorca’s favourite son Rafa Nadal wins today, he will make history with a 21st singles Grand Slam title. Nadal is 34.

The African Cup of Nations is at its quarter finals stage and this tournament is the mother of all wild finishes.

For Mallorca’s favourite adopted son, Samuel Eto’o, (the Cameroon player who helped Real Mallorca to win the Copa del Rey in 2003 and a famous 5-1 win at Real Madrid the same year) the mind turns to the 2006 quarter final between Ivory Coast and Cameroon.
In the penalty shootout, all eleven players had taken their kicks and the score was locked at 11-11.

So they went round again and it was Eto’o who stepped up for the second time and missed the 24th penalty.

The Ivory Coast team is notable for having won the two highest scoring shootouts in international football, after they won the tournament for the first time in 1992 with another thrilling 24 shot shootout, beating Ghana 11-10.

Unbelievably, the Elephants won again, also against Ghana, in yet another marathon penalty drama in the final in 2015, winning 9-8 after 22 penalties.

The Ivorians were put out of this year’s tournament in midweek after losing on penalties (of course) to Egypt, where Mo Salah struck the decisive blow in a 5-4 win to take their place in a mouth-watering quarter final match up with Morocco on Sunday.

With the 6 Nations kicking off next week, the Olympics, the Super Bowl and the African Cup of Nations, it will be breathless February for sport.