6 May 2010

Motherwell add to a season of incredible comebacks

Motherwell 6 Hibernian 6

In the highest-scoring game in Scottish Premier League history last night, Motherwell recovered from a 6-2 deficit with 24 minutes remaining to draw 6-6 at home to Hibernian.

It really has been quite a season for comebacks, and it says something that this is only the second most incredible one in recent months. Barely two weeks ago, we had Wigan turning a 0-2 scoreline into a 3-2 win against Arsenal - the first time since the inception of the Premier League that a team had won having been two goals down with ten minutes remaining. But even that pales into insignificance when compared to the opening match of January's Africa Cup of Nations, when Mali recovered from 4-0 down against the hosts Angola to draw 4-4, with the final two goals coming in the 93rd and 94th minutes.

This one ran it close, though.

Last night's match had added importance because Motherwell entered it holding a one point advantage (with just two games remaining) over Hibs in the battle for fourth place in the SPL, which yields the reward of a Europa League spot.

I won't repeat the full details of the game - try the BBC Sport website here for a match report - but a Colin Nish first half hat-trick and a brace from former Arsenal and Sunderland striker Anthony Stokes saw the visitors take a commanding 6-2 lead after 65 minutes, only for Motherwell to score three goals in nine minutes. That still left sufficient time for Lukas Jutkiewicz to earn an 86th minute penalty which Ross Forbes failed to convert before Jutkiewicz himself struck a ferocious volley from a narrow angle in the third of four minutes of added-on time. The draw leaves the Steelmen in control of their destiny going into their final game against champions Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday.

It's well worth seeking out the highlights on either YouTube or the BBC website, if only for Jutkiewicz's equaliser. Anyone familiar with Marco van Basten's amazing volley against the USSR in the final of the 1988 European Championships will know what I mean when I say that this is virtually a left-footed mirror image of that goal. It was a goal worthy of crowning an amazing game.

And it was a prime example of the danger of walking out of a game early, as thousands of Motherwell fans did at 6-2. Comebacks like this may only happen once in a lifetime, but how gutted would you be to have missed it?