Top Tenner: Game-changing subs
Louis van Gaal broke Costa Rican hearts on Saturday night -- and probably Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen's -- when he sent on Tim Krul as a 120th-minute substitute. The manager's clever and gutsy decisiveness paid off as Krul made two saves in the penalty shootout to send Netherlands to the World Cup semifinals.
Here are 10 other game-changing substitutes, starting with one that didn't quite work out.
It's all rosy when your substitution works exactly as planned, but unfortunately for Mike Buskens at Greuther Furth, his intervention ended up costing his side in brilliantly comical fashion. Buskens' men were agonisingly close to surprising Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup semifinal back in 2012, with a penalty shootout looming.
Buskens had promised his understudy goalkeeper Jasmin Fejzic that he would come on for the shootout as he was trained especially for such an eventuality, just as Krul was. So off came Max Grun on 118 goalless minutes as the second-division side edged closer to one final battle to knock out the champions.
Alas, not. With 119 minutes and 55 seconds on the clock, Ilkay Gundogan's shot hit the post, off Fejzic's back and into the net. Jurgen Klopp's men escaped with a 1-0 win thanks to the goalkeeper's own goal, and it was all Fejzic's fault. Or Buskens' fault, if you prefer.
Of course, there have been times when managers got it just right, and here's a look back at some of them, assembled in chronological order so you're free to argue about which ones are more important...
Keith Peacock -- Charlton vs. Bolton -- Aug. 21, 1965
This list cannot start without a nod to a game-changer in every sense of the word. The year was 1965, a time when the "Sound of Music" premiered and Arno A. Penzias and Robert W. Wilson confirmed the Big Bang theory -- and you can add Keith Peacock to that arbitrary list of notable events.
The Charlton Athletic man was introduced after 11 minutes at Bolton, making history as the first substitute to appear in the Football League. Injured goalkeeper Mike Rose needed replacing and Peacock obliged, making himself the answer to a future pub quiz question.
At the time, only injured players were allowed to be replaced; two years later, tactical subs were allowed.
Dieter Muller -- Yugoslavia 2-4 West Germany -- June 17, 1976
The nerve shown by West Germany manager Helmut Schon in selecting Dieter Muller deserved rich reward, and the rookie provided it. This was gutsy, make no mistake.
Trailing 2-1 with 11 minutes left in their European Championship semifinal against Yugoslavia, the world champions had nowhere to turn, or so we thought. Cologne striker Muller was sent on for Herbert Wimmer and repaid his manager's faith with a hat trick that sent his side through to the final.
Yugoslavia had one foot in the final following a wonderful first half of free-flowing, attacking football. Germany had no answer for Dragan Dzajic and the electric Slavisa Zungul, and it was no surprise the Germans found themselves 2-0 down. Danilo Popivoda outsmarted Franz Beckenbauer before opening the scoring, and Dzajic doubled the score on 30 minutes to leave the holders dumbfounded.
Then the drama. Heinz Flohe pulled one back before Muller headed in after 82 minutes to force extra time. From there, Erich Beer found Muller for his second on 115 minutes before he completed his hat trick with a powerful finish at the end.
The best part of all this? It was Muller's debut, and his first goal came via his first touch as an international.
People can be too quick to chide someone for being lucky, when in reality, successful decision-making is the result of foresight and intelligence, rather than the whims of Lady Luck. So if anyone wants to put Van Gaal's Krul intentions down to chance, remind them that the manager has form when it comes to this: the 1995 Champions League final to be precise.
Ajax '95 reads like a "who's who" of European football royalty. The team may be tinged in sepia but the names endure: Van Der Sar, Blind, Rijkaard. Seedorf, Davids, Overmars. Men blessed with an almost unfair amount of skill and vision, deserved winners of their fourth European Cup in '95, rather aptly the year of "The Usual Suspects." Van Gaal's swaggerers had an average age of 23 and captured the imagination of the masses as they proved how foolish Alan Hansen was to say, a few months later, "You'll win nothing with kids." Kluivert, then 18, was introduced on 70 minutes for a tiring Jari Litmanen as Van Gaal strived to alter the course of a match that lurched inexorably toward extra time.
A quarter of an hour later, proof of his managerial power was evident as his young Dutch substitute struck to win the trophy. Frank Rijkaard, in his second spell at Ajax following five seasons at Milan, was the defensive bedrock of their success, part of the unbeaten 1994-95 Eredivisie champions side who translated their talent to Europe so effectively. It was fitting, then, that his last act in an Ajax shirt was to find the new golden boy, who squeezed between two markers before poking the ball past a despairing Sebastiano Rossi.
"Football's Coming Home," Paul Gascoigne's excruciating misfortune, Gareth Southgate's miss, Karel Poborsky's lob, Davor Suker embarrassing Peter Schmeichel, and a golden goal -- Euro '96 had a glut of memorable moments, and manager Berti Vogts had the Midas touch. His decision to send on Oliver Bierhoff against the Czech Republic in the European Championship final was a moment of inspiration as the first major international tournament was settled by a golden goal.
Patrik Berger, with his boyish charm and flamboyant style, put his side ahead from the penalty spot, but Germany are a patient beast, whatever the year. It took a while for Vogts' men to stir into life, but when they did it was with ruthless precision. Bierhoff replaced Mehmet Scholl on 69 minutes, and moments later it was 1-1 thanks to a bullet header from close range.
Wonderfully, the '96 final then essentially descended into playground rules, with the novel "next goal wins" rule in play for extra time. Bierhoff duly obliged five minutes into the extra 30 to make his side champions.
Even as a neutral observer, there's always great joy to be had in seeing a substitute enter the action tellingly within seconds of coming on.
In this case, 16 seconds. That's all it took for Lars Ricken to alleviate the rising angst in Dortmund's ranks and seal their first -- and only -- European Cup. Juventus, fortified by Alessandro Del Piero's 65th-minute strike, began to believe the tide was turning in their favour. Dortmund's Karl-Heinz Riedle had put his side 2-0 up with two quick-fire strikes in the first half, but Del Piero, himself a sub, cheekily flicked home Alen Boksic's pass to revive the Old Lady. Momentum is everything; the sleek and expensive favourites were in the ascendancy and Dortmund manager Ottmar Hitzfeld needed to change something. Off came Riedle for Heiko Herrlich -- a Herrlich manoeuvre? -- before Ricken entered the fray on 70 minutes, replacing Stephane Chapuisat.
It was a wonderful moment for the 20-year-old Dortmund boy, but he barely had time to take in the occasion when Andreas Moller split the Juventus defence to send Ricken clear. Adrenaline zapping through his body, Ricken charged forward and chipped an outrageous 25-yard effort over a statuesque Angelo Peruzzi before continuing his run, this time in a fit of celebration. The emotion bubbling inside the hometown kid after scoring for his side in the Champions League final is indescribable for those less fortunate. The real sadness is that we all can't experience such glory in our lives.
Peruzzi, meanwhile, stood vacantly before and after Ricken's rocket, his Juventus side vanquished by a team intent on revenge. Hitzfeld's side were humiliated 6-1 by Juve in the UEFA Cup final four years previously, with Julio Cesar, Jurgen Kohler, Paulo Sousa and Moller all starring for the Bianconeri. The quartet celebrated again, this time as Ricken's teammates.
One of the enduring sights from "That Night In Barcelona" (copyright ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley) is Sami Kuffour furiously pounding at the Nou Camp turf in utter anguish, traumatised by two swift, red punches to the solar plexus by Sir Alex Ferguson's treble winners just when they appeared prostrate on the canvas.
It looked a forlorn chase, sans Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, as Bayern Munich strangled United seemingly into submission. Keane dragged United kicking and screaming to Barcelona's backyard with a selfless display in the semifinal against Juventus, fully aware he would not be there to help his comrades in the final. How United missed his guts for long spells.
As the sands of time slipped through Ferguson's fingers, an eager UEFA official tied Bayern's ribbons around the trophy, ignorant to United's resolve. In came Teddy Sheringham for the ineffective Jesper Blomqvist on 67 minutes before Andy Cole departed for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 10 minutes from time. Two substitutes who changed the course of history on what would have been Sir Matt Busby's 90th birthday.
With authoritative prescience, the commentator claimed, "They always score," and he was right. A shot by Ryan Giggs trickled toward Sheringham, who swept the ball home to level the score 1-1, and then the three steps to heaven were completed by the man they called the "Baby-Faced Assassin." Solskjaer flicked out a right boot to divert the ball past Oliver Kahn and into the top corner. The treble was complete, and Kuffour, along with everyone else, couldn't quite believe what they had witnessed.
The fat lady wasn't singing, but she certainly had her throat cleared and ready for action in Istanbul before a quite extraordinary Liverpool comeback broke Milan hearts. Such a wondrous feat was made all the more remarkable considering the gaping talent chasm between the two sides. The Rossoneri's team sheet resembled a masterpiece from Michelangelo, resplendent with names that stirred the soul: Cafu, Maldini, Seedorf (again), Kaka, Pirlo, Shevchenko...
Liverpool's ragtag bunch of grafters paled in comparison; the true Miracle of Istanbul lies in the fact that Djimi Traore and Steve Finnan walked away with a Champions League winners medal. The substitution in this case was more forced than foresight, with Vladimir Smicer replacing the injured Harry Kewell on 23 minutes. Smicer duly scored Liverpool's second goal on their way to battling from 3-0 down to 3-3. It was a case of Czechmate in the shootout as Smicer set up match point and keeper Jerzy Dudek's crazy legs befuddled Sheva to complete the astonishing comeback.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, the master of pragmatism, especially in Europe, should also be lauded for substituting the terrorised Finnan at halftime for the serene presence of Dietmar Hamann, who helped stem the tide (and found Smicer for Liverpool's second goal). Sure, Steven Gerrard's influence grabbed the headlines, but Hamann's role cannot be underestimated in Liverpool's triumph.
Classic Sir Alex Ferguson, classic Manchester United. The Premier League pendulum swung the champions' way once again thanks to a 17-year-old unknown from Rome, whose outstanding Cruyff-esque turn and whipped winner in front of the Stretford End triggered wild celebrations at Old Trafford. Naturally, it came in injury time, and as Gary Neville pumped his fists and Ferguson danced his grandfather jig, Merseyside mourned the passing of another title challenge.
This, of course, did not mathematically seal the title for United, but it remains the crucial chapter in the 2008-09 season; United responded to Liverpool's own late win at Fulham 24 hours earlier to climb back to the Premier League summit, and stayed there to clinch an 18th crown. This was one of those defining moments -- see also: Bruce, Steve (1993). A mesh of relieved limbs flailed furiously around Macheda's father, Pasquale, in the South Stand, where his son charged over to celebrate with him.
"It was a gamble," replied Ferguson when asked why he turned to Macheda to salvage a game that had looked over against a Villa side chasing fourth place. Ferguson, a keen horse-racing fan, loved a punt, and his decision to introduce Macheda for Nani on 60 minutes paid off handsomely. Cometh the hour, cometh the boy, more like. The Italian was legally too young to accept the man-of-the-match champagne, but a place in United hearts forever and a day was certain. His delicious finish typified the naivety of youth and teenage arrogance -- while also triggering a quite extraordinary yell from Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler.
Flick through the "finals" section in any FA Cup history book and names leap out at you, from Sunderland 1973 to Wimbledon 1988 -- and now Wigan 2013. What a story: The small-town team backed by the cheerful local businessman upsets the Premier League behemoth, bankrolled by sovereign wealth from one of the world's richest nations. Sure, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan cannot stop mentioning his own unfortunate experience in the 1960 FA Cup final, when he suffered a career-ending broken leg, but only the stony-hearted would have looked on nonplussed at his tears of joy at the end of this.
Substitute Watson's goal was priceless, a header that ended Wigan's 81-year wait for a major trophy and ultimately ended Roberto Mancini's reign as Manchester City manager. And what a fearsome, accurate, awe-inspiring thumper of a header it was, soaring past the despairing Joe Hart to the disbelief of the world. It was absolutely deserved, as well; Wigan rewarded for their vibrant, attacking performance against an off-colour City who had Pablo Zabaleta sent off late on.
Thankfully, Watson's broken leg, sustained the previous November, was not career-ending as Whelan's was, allowing him his place in the spotlight. Introduced for Jordi Gomez nine minutes from time, Watson etched his name in FA Cup folklore when he met Shaun Maloney's corner.
Fans live for moments like these. Forget the fact that Wigan went down that season; the glory and emotion of Watson's header ensured the 2012-13 campaign will remembered fondly in this part of Lancashire.