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Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal, Inter's May 5 collapse & 10 thrilling title race conclusions

Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal, Inter's May 5 collapse & 10 thrilling title race conclusions

Join as we look back at 10 championship races from around the world that came down to the wire in nail-biting fashion

By Dan Orlowitz

The 2011 J-League season reaches its thrilling conclusion on Saturday with the top three teams still in the running for the league championship and a spot in next week's Fifa Club World Cup.

Kashiwa Reysol lead with 69 points, second-place Nagoya Grampus follow with 68, and third-place Gamba Osaka have caught up with 67. All three play on the road in the final round: Kashiwa are looking for their first league title, while Nagoya look to secure a second consecutive triumph and Gamba hope to send manager Akira Nishino off with their first championship since 2005.

Reysol may be in the drivers seat, but Grampus and Gamba (the latter in particular, as you will read) can take heart in the fact that they will have just as much of a chance to claim the title after reading's Top 10 thrilling title race conclusions.

10. 2002-03 SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE (Rangers & Celtic)
In a banner year for the Old Firm, Rangers and Celtic came into the final week of the 2002-03 campaign even on points (94) and goal difference (68).

Celtic beat Kilmarnock 4-0, but Rangers edged them out with a 6-1 win against Dunfermline, preventing their rivals from securing a third straight title.
9. SOUTH AFRICAN PSL (Ajax Cape Town & Orlando Pirates)
Last season saw Orlando Pirates earn their third domestic title in stunning fashion. Trailing Ajax Cape Town by two points heading into the last round, the Pirates won their match with a last-minute stunner from Isaac Chansa.

Meanwhile, Ajax could only draw and saw their title plundered by the Pirates on goal difference, while wins for Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns meant that the top four places were separated by just two points.
8. 2008-09 INDIAN I-LEAGUE (Churchill Brothers & Mohun Bagan)
The second season of India's professional league went right down to the wire. Churchill Brothers and Mohun Bagan entered the final round even on 43 points, with the latter behind on points and goal difference.

Mohun Bagan eventually lost 2-1 to Mahindra United, while Churchill's 6-2 win over Mohammedan guaranteed not only the title, but that their opponents would be relegated after minnows JCT and Air India scrambled to safety with wins.
7. 2006-07 EREDIVISIE (AZ, PSV Eindhoven, Ajax)
In this three-way tussle, AZ, PSV, and Ajax stood at 72 points each heading into the 34th matchday. AZ led on goal difference, but slipped up by losing to minnows Excelsior after an early red card.

Ajax then appeared to be in pole position after defeating Willem II 2-0, but their elation was short-lived. PSV beat Vitesse 5-1 to sneak it on goal difference, 50 to 49. Phillip Cocu was the hero with a decisive 77th-minute strike.
6. 2009 CAMPEONATO BRASILEIRO (Flamengo & Internacional)
Flamengo led Internacional by one point heading into the final round, when they played Gremio, who were widely expected to throw the match to spite their bitter rivals. Instead they took the lead, the only ever Gremio goal to be celebrated by Internacional fans.

Internacional, for their part, thrashed Santo Andre 4-0. But it was all for naught, as Flamengo turned things around for a 2-1 win and their first national title since 1992.
5. 2005 JAPANESE J-LEAGUE (Cerezo Osaka, Gamba Osaka, three other teams)
An unprecedented five teams vied for the 2005 Japanese crown: Cerezo Osaka ahead on 58 points, Gamba Osaka behind on 57, and Urawa Reds, Kashima Antlers, and JEF United Chiba all with 56.

Two late goals against Kawasaki Frontale sealed a 4-2 win for Gamba, while a last-minute strike for FC Tokyo saw Cerezo draw, ceding the title to their rivals. Cerezo then fell to fifth place when the Reds, Antlers, and JEF all won.
4. 2000-01 BUNDESLIGA (Bayern Munich & Schalke 04)
In 2001, Bayern Munich led Schalke by three points but trailed on goal difference at the start of the final round. Schalke beat Unterhaching 5-3, and when the Parkstadion's screen showed Bayern conceding late against Hamburg, fans believed they had won their first title in over 40 years.

But it wasn't over; Patrik Andersson's last-gasp goal - his first and only for Bayern - allowed them to salvage the required point, breaking Schalke fans' hearts.
3. 2009 ARGENTINE CLAUSURA (Huracan & Velez Sarsfield)
In a controversial finale, leaders Huracan hosted second-place Velez Sarsfield, needing a point to win the stage. After a hailstorm delay, the match remained goalless until the 83rd minute, when home keeper Gaston Monzon was accidentally downed by Velez's Joaquin Larrivey.

The referee played on and Maxi Moralez scored in an open net. Despite near-violent protests from Huracan, the goal was upheld and Velez walked away with the championship.
2. 2001-02 SERIE A (Inter & Juventus)
Inter led Juventus by one point before the final week; all they needed to secure the Scudetto was a win at Lazio. They twice took the lead, but Lazio's Karel Poborsky completed his brace at the stroke of half-time to make it 2-2.

Lazio went on to shock Inter with a 4-2 win, while Juventus strolled to an easy 2-0 victory against Udinese to claim their 26th title. Inter eventually ended up in third after Roma leapfrogged them with a victory.
1. ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION (Liverpool & Arsenal)
Hailed as the wildest finish in English history, Liverpool led Arsenal by three points and four in goal difference before the two met at Anfield. The Gunners needed to win by two and although Alan Smith headed them halfway there on 52 minutes, Liverpool were still in position to triumph.

Then, in stoppage time, Michael Thomas' legendary run gave Arsenal the win on goals scored, in front of a sold-out crowd of 41,000 dismayed fans and eight million on television.

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