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Top 20 Football Moments in 2013

20. Darren Fletcher's first start for Manchester United in 390 days

The Scottish midfielder had battled ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel condition, for the past two years and was forced to leave the game as he sought treatment. Against Aston Villa on December 15, the 29-year-old finally played again as he came off the bench. A week later, Fletcher started for the first time in over a year as United came back from 2-0 down to beat Hull City 3-2.
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19. Diego Costa chooses Spain over Brazil

The Atletico Madrid star finally decided to pledge allegiance to world champions Spain instead of Brazil, his country of birth. The 25-year-old has made his name in La Liga and is their star striker after Falcao left in the summer, leading the goalscoring charts ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo with 19 goals in 17 games this season. Costa did play for Brazil in a March friendly, but received dual-citizenhip in July and officially stated his wish to don Spain colours on October 29 in a statement.
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18. Ozil becomes Arsenal's most expensive signing

The German schemer moved to the Emirates from Real Madrid on transfer deadline day as Arsene Wenger captured the midfielder for a club-record stunning £40 million. Ozil, who penned a five-year contract worth £130,000 a week to become the Gunners' highest-paid player, has done relatively well so far in his first season with four goals and seven assists in 15 league games.
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17. Relegated Wigan beating Man City in FA Cup final

It was the minnows against the Goliaths and Wigan upset the apple cart when they shocked big-spending City in the FA Cup final in May. Ben Watson's header in the 91st minute gave them a stunning victory and Roberto Martinez's side their first major trophy in their 81-year history. There was to be no fairytale ending for the Latics though; then 18th in the Premier League, they were subsequently relegated. City also replaced Roberto Mancini with Manuel Pellegrini.
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16. France and Portugal qualifying for 2014 World Cup

The two European giants found themselves in the play-offs after uninspiring group campaigns, but managed to book their tickets to Brazil in the end. Cristiano Ronaldo hit a stunning hat-trick in the second leg against Sweden to render rival Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace fruitless, taking Portugal through 4-2 on aggregate. Meanwhile, France turned their tie against Ukraine around dramatically with a 3-0 second leg win, becoming the first team to do so after trailing 2-0 from the first leg.
France comeback against Ukraine
Ronaldo hits stunning hat-trick against Sweden

15. Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible record-breaking year

The Portuguese superstar broke all sorts of records in 2013 as he had a prolific season for both club and country. His treble against Sweden to take Portugal through to the World Cup saw him become his country's all-time leading scorer on 47 goals, alongside Pauleta. The favorite to win the Ballon d'Or next month, Ronaldo also bagged six hat-tricks for Real Madrid this year alone and has 69 goals in total for the calendar year.
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14. Brazil World Cup stadium deaths

About a week before the World Cup draw, a crane collapse at the Arena Corinthians killed two workers and bringing to mind previous deaths at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in June 2012 and in March this year at the Arena Amazonia. Another worker fell to his death at the Amazonia earlier this month, raising questions over safety issues at the construction of the stadia as well as the possibility of a workers' strike.
Death at Arena Corinthians
Death at Arena Amazonia
Workers could strike

13. David Beckham's retirement

The sport's superstar in every sense of the word confirmed his retirement from the game in May at the age of 38. One of the game's most iconic figures, Beckham retired on the back of a Ligue 1 championship win with Paris Saint-Germain, adding to nine titles at Manchester United and another league title at Real Madrid. He also played for AC Milan and Los Angele Galaxy in a career that has brought him untold fame and riches.
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12. Tito Vilanova stepping down as Barcelona manager due to cancer

The 44-year-old was forced to resign from his role in charge of the Catalans in July as he needed to undergo further treatment on his disease. Vilanova, who took over from Pep Guardiola before the 2012/03 season, had returned to New York for treatment in May but a relapse meant he could not remain as manager. Gerardo Martino was unveiled as his successor a few days later.
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11. Qatar's 2022 World Cup woes

Awarded the right to host football's showpiece tournament back in 2010, concerns over Qatar's suitability to do have been raised recently. For one, soaring temperatures in the summer could force the World Cup to be held in winter instead due to safety issues for players and fans. Qatar have consistently insisted there will be no problems, although Fifa president Sepp Blatter said the event could be jointly held in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.
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10. Europol's match-fixing scandal

Up to 380 matches across the globe were revealed as under investigation by Europol for match-fixing, with the mastermind being an organised crime syndicate in Asia. "It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe," Europol director Rob Wainwright said. Hungarian side Debrecen subsequently confirmed that a 2009 Champions League tie against Liverpool was one of the matches investigated by Uefa. In Singapore, police also stated they were assisting Interpol in investigations, with Singaporean Dan Tan Seet Eng allegedly one of those involved.
Europol reveal match-fixing scandal
Singapore Police aid Interpol

9. Brazil wins Confederations Cup

In a dress rehearsal of sorts for the World Cup in 2014, Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup in July and went on to win it. The Selecao cruised to the final with four wins out of four and notched a fifth with an emphatic 3-0 win against world champions Spain. Fred's opener after two minutes set them on their way to a fourth triumph in the tournament and showed the world why they will be favorite on home soil when the World Cup comes around.
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8. Gareth Bale's record move to Real Madrid

The Tottenham star finally completed his transfer to La Liga on transfer deadline day after months of negotiations and public posturing, breaking the world record in the process with his €100 million (£85m) fee. The 24-year-old had to wait to recover from injury before making his debut against Villarreal, but has done relatively well since with nine goals and six assists in 15 games.
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7. Neymar signs for Barcelona

Barcelona bagged their own big transfer back in May when they swooped for Brazilian star Neymar, paying Santos £48.6 million for one of the hottest talents in world football. The 21-year-old signed a five-year contract after plumping for Nou Camp over Real Madrid and has scored 11 goals in 23 games so far, with 10 assists as well.
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6. Pep Guardiola ends sabbatical

The former Barcelona boss was appointed the new manager of Bayern Munich in January this year, ending a year-long sabbatical. Guardiola left the Nou Camp at the end of the 2011/12 season in April, citing a need to rest after four tiring years during which he won 14 major trophies. His first trophy with the Germans was the Uefa Super Cup and the Treble winners currently lead the Bundesliga after 16 games.
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5. Bayern defeat Dortmund in all-German Champions League final

Bayern Munich triumphed over their rivals courtesy of a late goal by Arjen Robben in the 90th minute to win 2-1. It was the first time the final was being contested between two German sides, with Bayern hammering Barcelona and Dortmund disposing of Real Madrid in the semi-finals. A week later, Bundesliga champions Bayern won the German Cup to complete their Treble.
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4. Luis Suarez saga

After his racism row with Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra and his bizarre biting incident with Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic last season, Liverpool's Uruguayan star announced that he wanted out of Anfield in pre-season. The 26-year-old publicly sought to move, claiming he was not welcome in England anymore. But the club refused to let him do so and Suarez has since excelled this season, even penning a new long-term contract and claiming captain Steven Gerrard and the supporters convinced him to stay.
Suarez wants to leave
Suarez convinced to stay

3. Falcao and Cavani moving to Monaco and PSG

Radamel Falcao completed a shock £50 million move to AS Monaco from Atletico Madrid in June, having been tipped to move to Europe's elite following a superb season in La Liga. The mega-rich French side's millions likely made a difference, as with fellow Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain's £54m move for Napoli's Edinson Cavani.
Falcao signs for Monaco
Cavani signs for PSG

2. Guangzhou Evergrande winning AFC Champions League

The Chinese side won its first ever AFC Asian Champions League title when they defeated FC Seoul of Korea on away goals following a 3-3 aggregate score. Their Italian coach, Marcelo Lippi, became the first to win Champions League title on two continents, having already won the World Cup with Italy in 2006. Inspired by the likes of Dario Conca, Elkeson and Muriqui, Evergrande also won the Chinese Super League and finished fourth at the recent Club World Cup.
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1. Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, 20th league title and David Moyes succeeding him

After 26 glorious years, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement at the end of the 2012/13 season. The Scot bowed out in style by winning a 20th league title, making it his 38th trophy of a staggering haul at the helm of the Red Devils. The club wasted no time in announcing David Moyes as his successor a day later, although the former Everton manager has endured a rocky start so far this season.
Ferguson retires
Moyes appointed new Man Utd boss

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