The best Boxing Day games of all time

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It’s that time of year again: when football fans get to eat leftover turkey, have a drink without having to worry about work the next day and watch the beautiful match all day long.

Boxing Day is traditionally a football-filled extravaganza and has previously seen some of the season’s craziest matches played out on that date.

Let’s take a look at the best games ever played on December 26th.

A young Robbie Keane put Arsenal by the sword / Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Once upon a time, Coventry was a competitive Premier League outfit. Their team consisted of Moroccan superstar Mustapha Hadji, Scotsman Gary McAllister and a little-known Irish prospect named Robbie Keane.

All three were on the scoresheet in this game when Gordon Strachan’s Sky Blues put Arsène Wenger’s side against the sword to dent Gunnar’s title charge.

3. (December 26, 1978) Manchester United 0-3 Liverpool. Goals by Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case and Davey Fairclough. pic.twitter.com/fr2kHOZic8

– Mr. Good boy (@ 1stbrand) March 22, 2015

After failing to score during his last five visits to Old Trafford and being denied an unbeaten triple in the FA Cup final two years earlier, Liverpool appeared to ruin Christmas for Manchester United.

Bob Paisley’s side dominated the process when Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case and a wonderful solo attack from David Fairclough lasted during the day. United fans actually applauded Fairclough’s goal, which tells you everything you need to know about it.

Rooney scored when Manchester United made a comeback / Matthew Lewis / Getty Images

David Moye’s only boxing day as Manchester United manager was one to remember.

Relegation fighters Hull hosted and took a shock 2-0 lead within 13 minutes thanks to James Chester and David Meyler. However, United hit back and were even before half an hour, thanks to Chris Smalling’s nod and a fantastic Wayne Rooney volley. A post from Antonio Valencia in the second half saw Chester head into his own net when Moyes’ team completed the comeback.

It was also the game that saw Darren Fletcher’s return from ulcerative colitis. Two Christmas miracles in one.

A match more remembered for what happened on the pitch at half time than what happened on it during the match.

When Man City and Hull fought at the Etihad Stadium, the day began with the Blues in the relegation zone and the Tigers in the top six. It did not turn out that way on the pitch as two goals were from Felipe Caicedo and Robinho put 4-0 for City at the break.

This led to manager Phil Brown holding his team talk on the pitch in front of the audience, where he joked his players in public. He apologized to the fans after the match for the performance when they fell to a 5-1 loss.

Stoke took the lead through winger James McClean after just 11 minutes before two goals in seven second-half minutes saw Sheffield Wednesday turn the game around thanks to Morgan Fox and Tom Lees.

Stoke then raised the pressure and the Owls collapsed in overtime. Tyrese Campbell equalized in the 93rd minute with an acrobatic volley in the box before Sam Vokes poked home the winner in the 97th after a goal spin. Scenes.

Thierry Henry got his first Arsenal hat trick in this game / Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

A memorable match back in 2000 when Arsenal’s king Thierry Henry got his first Premier League hat-trick in his 50th appearance in a 6-1 victory over a poor Leicester City team.

The Gunners were in the title race and took the lead thanks to Henry in the 33rd minute, before Leicester changed their system to try to survive. However, that did not stop Patrick Vieira from doubling the lead shortly after half time. Ade Akinbiyi pulled one back before the Henry show really started.

He turned the defender and drove with his left foot through the legs of Tim Flowers before sealing his hat trick after rounding the goalkeeper. Freddie Ljungberg and Tony Adams also came on the points list in a huge win.

A Premier League classic between these two sides / Steve Bardens / Getty Images

A crazy yo-yo match caused both teams to throw away the lead late to share the points in 2017.

West Ham took an early lead thanks to James Collins’ header before Bournemouth struck back through goals from Dan Gosling and Nathan Ake. They held the lead until the 81st minute, when Marko Arnautovic struck on a mistake by Asmir Begovic to equalize. He then made a second in the 89th minute from close range to snatch the three points … or so he thought.

Bournemouth hit back once more and were controversially given an equalizer in injury time when an offside Callum Wilson deflected the ball into goal via his hand, and the referee overruled his linebacker to still give the goal. Complete chaos.

Michael Ricketts breaks through Newcastle’s defense / Michael Steele / Getty Images

A completely crazy match in the Premier League when Bolton Wanderers beat Newcastle at Reebok Stadium in 2002.

Jay-Jay Okocha gave the home side the lead with a powerful strike from the edge of the box, before Alan Shearer equalized just minutes later. Ricardo Gardner’s fantastic free kick found the top corner to restore Bolton’s lead before a double Michael Ricketts made it 4-1 just after the hour.

Newcastle fought back, however, as Shola Ameobi’s dismissed blow made it 4-2 before Shearer made a 25-yard rocket to worry the home fans, but Sam Allardyce’s men held out for the win in an exciting match.

Van Persie was on target / Clive Brunskill / GettyImages

Sir Alex Ferguson’s last Boxing Day match was one to remember when the Red Devils took another late goal to take all three points.

James Perch gave the Magpies the early lead before Jonny Evans equalized from close range. Just three minutes later, Evans fired a shot into his own net to restore the visitors’ lead. Patrice Evra equalized again for the Reds in the second half with a low drive in the bottom corner, only for Newcastle to regain the lead again thanks to Papiss Cisse.

Robin van Persie equalized for the third time for United with 12 minutes left before Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez made the winner in the final minute to seal a memorable victory for the Old Trafford team.

?? A return to the #BoxingDay chaos at @ChelseaFC 10 years ago …

44 ‘: 0-2

66 ‘: 3-2

88 ‘: 4-3

90 ‘: 4-4 # PartOfThePride #AVFC pic.twitter.com/NjArKedeon

– Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 26, 2017

A completely ridiculous football match, to put it simply.

Aston Villa took the lead at Stamford Bridge through Shaun Maloney before a handling error from Petr Cech allowed the shots to double his and Villa’s bill. Andriy Shevchenko withdrew one from the spot just before halftime for the Blues, before the Ukrainian made an absolute screamer to equalize.

Shevchenko then got an assist from Alex to give Chelsea the lead, before Villa fought their way back to the levels thanks to Martin Laursen’s efforts. Chelsea then regained the lead thanks to a free kick from Michael Ballack with two minutes left to play, before an Ashley Cole handball allowed Gareth Barry to equalize from the spot during overtime.

?? The result from the second day of Christmas 1963? pic.twitter.com/TSSvR8hQnQ

– Diario AS (@diarioas) 14 December 2020

What’s better than a crazy second day match? Well, how about ten crazy second day Christmas matches on the same second day?

That was what happened in 1963 when 66 goals were looted in 10 games, with Fulham scoring ten and Blackburn scoring eight. Manchester United were also beaten by Burnley, while West Brom and Spurs shared eight goals.

It’s a classic graphic that is rolled out year after year, but cruel: what a football day. You can read more about this.

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