A Year of Amazing Sports Feats, Both Dazzling and Historic


Wild momentum swings. Breakneck pace. Spectacular, long-range, back-to-back goals from Angel di María and Benjamin Pavard. A breakout performance from Kylian Mbappé. More knockout-round misery for Lionel Messi. France’s 4-3 victory over Argentina in the World Cup round of 16 in Kazan, Russia, just about had it all, and it set France on the right course to win it all.

The Los Angeles Rams’ 54-51 regular-season victory over the Kansas City Chiefs was the ultimate expression of the new-age N.F.L., where rule changes have given offenses license to run — and above all, pass — wild. But even the defenses came up with three touchdowns in this free-for-all in which the Chiefs became the first N.F.L. team to score 50 points and lose. Super Bowl rematch, please.

On the relatively flat course in Berlin, Eliud Kipchoge took the record-breaking to a new level, smashing the men’s marathon mark by 78 seconds. He won in 2 hours 1 minute 39 seconds: all the more remarkable considering that he ran the last 10 miles by himself.

It was the longest game in World Series history, requiring 18 innings, 18 pitchers and seven hours and 20 minutes. Game 3 between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers finally ended with a game-winning home run from the Dodgers’ Max Muncy that turned out to be a consolation prize. The Red Sox would win the Series 4-1.

Once more concerned with getting healthy enough to play with his children without pain, Tiger Woods was healthy enough to win again in 2018. His victory at the Tour Championship at age 42 was his first tour victory in five years, and he was a contender throughout the season as the sport and the public re-embraced him after all his private and public struggles.

Down 2-0 early in the second half to Japan, it looked as if Belgium’s World Cup was about to be over. Instead, Belgium staged the biggest knockout-round comeback in 52 years. Its last goal, by the substitute Nacer Chadli, came in the final seconds to give the Red Devils a 3-2 victory.

In August, the French decathlete Kévin Mayer, the overwhelming favorite for gold at the European track and field championships, fouled out of the long jump and withdrew, despondent. In September, he returned to action at the Decastar meet and broke Ashton Eaton’s 2015 world record by 81 points.

After more than eight months and 45,000 nautical miles, the Volvo Ocean Race came down to the final few miles of the short final leg from Goteborg, Sweden, to The Hague. Dongfeng Race Team ended up the champions by winning the trophy by just 16 minutes, becoming the first Chinese-flagged team to win one of sailing’s most prestigious races.

Pavard’s half volley from 20 yards out against Argentina was a bolt-from-the-blue master strike from a French defender who had never scored a professional goal with his foot. It leveled the score at 2-2 and changed the course of France’s World Cup campaign (and Pavard’s life).

Overhead kick? Bicycle kick? Scissors kick? Whatever you call it, Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal against Juventus in Real Madrid’s 3-0 victory in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal in April was a thing of pure beauty: just a shade more spectacular than Gareth Bale’s similar strike in the final. Come September, Ronaldo was playing for Juventus.

Toni Kroos’s curving, precision-guided free kick gave Germany a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Sweden and new hope in round-robin play at the World Cup. But the Germans, the defending champions, still finished last in their group and failed to advance.

Roma upset Barcelona 3-0 in the second leg in Rome to reach the Champions League semifinals and overcome a 4-1 first-leg deficit. It was a stunning comeback, and Roma’s owner, James Pallotta, marked the moment much later in the evening by jumping into a fountain in the Piazza del Popolo. “I have a history of going one step too far, going all the way back to college,” he told the BBC after being fined 450 euros, or $510, by the city of Rome for his illicit swim. Pallotta, an American who made a fortune as a hedge fund manager, had no problem paying up. He then pledged €230,000 to the restoration of a different fountain near the Pantheon. Site of a future late-night dip?



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