Football fans have been treated to some cracking Boxing Day fixtures during the Premier League era. These are the top seven games that have been played on 26th December:
- Man City 5-1 Hull, 2008
A rejuvenated Man City moved out of the relegation zone after thrashing Hull 5-1 on Boxing Day in 2008. Playmaker Stephen Ireland delivered a scintillating performance, setting up Felipe Caicedo for the first two goals and then providing the third for Brazilian superstar Robinho. With his team 3-0 down at the break, Hull boss Phil Brown took the bizarre decision to deliver his half-time team talk on the pitch, berating his players in an animated fashion in front of a mystified crowd. It had little effect. Shaun Wright-Phillips teed up Robinho to make it 4-0, before Hull substitute Craig Fagan hit a consolation goal. Ireland then capped his terrific afternoon by finishing off a superb team move to seal the win for Man City in the 83rd minute.
- Hull 2-3 Man Utd, 2013
David Moyes’ only Boxing Day game as Man Utd manager resulted in victory back in 2013. The situation was looking bleak for the under-fire Scot, as James Chester volleyed the Tigers in front after just 4 minutes and David Meyler’s deflected shot quickly doubled Hull’s advantage. However, Chris Smalling headed in to halve the deficit, and Wayne Rooney thumped in his 150th Premier League goal for the club to make it 2-2 after just 26 minutes. The sting then went out of the game, and a second-half own goal from Chester handed Man Utd the win. They suffered a late scare after Antonio Valencia was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence, but the Red Devils held on.
- Arsenal 6-1 Leicester, 2000
Legendary striker Thierry Henry fired in his first Arsenal hat-trick as the Gunners demolished Leicester in 2000. The Frenchman opened the scoring by meeting Robert Pires’ corner on the edge of the box and firing in a sweet volley. He then teed up compatriot Patrick Vieira to make it 2-0 to the home side, sparking jubilation in the stands. A mistake from reserve goalkeeper Alex Manninger allowed Ade Akinbiyi to pull one back for the Foxes, but Henry quickly restored Arsenal’s two-goal advantage by twisting Matt Elliott inside out and slotting the ball through Tim Flowers’ legs. Ljungberg turned in the fourth goal from another Pires corner, and Henry then rounded Flowers to complete his hat-trick. There was still time for a marauding Tony Adams to charge up the pitch and fire in a sixth before the final whistle.
- Bournemouth 3-3 West Ham, 2017
Moyes was a central figure once again as his West Ham team battled to a 3-3 draw with Bournemouth on Boxing Day 2017. An early goal from James Collins put the Hammers ahead, but Dan Gosling restored parity for Bournemouth. Nathan Aké made it 2-1 to the Cherries on 57 minutes, and they appeared to be on course for a win. Yet Austrian forward Marko Arnautović then grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, banging in two goals in the final 10 minutes to put West Ham in the driving seat. In the 94th minute, Callum Wilson diverted a header from Aké into the net. It was initially ruled out for offside, but referee Bobby Madley overturned the decision, sparking a furious reaction from Moyes. He was sacked six months later, but he is now back at the club, and the spread betting odds suggest that they are genuine contenders for a top four finish.
- Bolton 4-3 Newcastle, 2002
Bolton boosted their survival hopes by edging a thriller at the Reebok Stadium in 2002. Sam Allardyce’s men took the lead after just five minutes courtesy of a powerful strike from Jay-Jay Okocha. Alan Shearer equalised, but Ricardo Gardner curled in a 35-yard free-kick for the Trotters just 60 seconds later. A rejuvenated Michael Ricketts put Bolton 3-1 up, and he then handed his team a 4-1 lead after capitalising on an error from Gary Speed. Newcastle rallied, as Shearer grabbed his second of the game and a goal from Shola Ameobi gave the Magpies hope, but Bolton were ultimately able to hold on for the win.
- Chelsea 4-4 Aston Villa, 2007
An out of sorts Chelsea team were staring down the barrel of a disappointing defeat when they trailed 2-0 with just seconds remaining of the first half. Yet the game then changed in an instant, as Zat Knight was sent off for denying Michael Ballack a clear goalscoring opportunity, and Andriy Schevchenko fired in from the penalty spot. The Ukrainian striker equalised after the break, and Brazilian defender Alex smashed in a third. However, Martin Laursen made it 3-3, and Chelsea then had Ricardo Carvalho sent off for a nasty tackle, leaving both teams with 10 men. Ballack thought he had won it with an 89th minute free-kick, but Ashley Cole was then sent off for blocking Gabriel Agbonlahor’s goal-bound header on the line with his hand in stoppage time, and Gareth Barry made it 4-4 from the penalty spot.
- Man Utd 4-3 Newcastle, 2012
The Red Devils came from behind on three occasions to secure a dramatic victory over Newcastle in the most entertaining Boxing Day game of the Premier League era. The madness began when James Perch put Newcastle 1-0 up from close range in the fourth minute. Johnny Evans equalised, but he then scored an own-goal to undo his good work. Patrice Evra made it 2-2 on 58 minutes, but Papiss Cissé slammed an unstoppable drive past David De Gea. Robin Van Persie equalised with a powerful drive, and then Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez slid in to convert a cross in the final minute. It was Sir Alex Ferguson’s final Boxing Day as a manager, and his players rose to the occasion.
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