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Top 100 sporting moments of 2023: 20-11

Sports Mole counts down the 100 greatest sporting moments of 2023, continuing with numbers 20 to 11.

The year 2023 has been another hugely eventful one across sport, with countless records set, new ground broken and non-stop drama and controversy along the way.

From World Cups in rugby union, women's football, cricket and netball to rarely-seen feats in darts, formula 1 and MMA, the past year has contained thrills and spills to keep any sports fan entertained, regardless of what they are interested in.

GOATs have been crowned, sporting perfection has been achieved and a plethora of prestigious honours and trophies have been hoisted aloft.

Here, Sports Mole takes on the sizeable task of narrowing the last 365 days down to the 100 greatest sporting moments from across the spectrum, based on a ranking system which takes into account prestige, drama, history, newsworthiness, quality and importance.

So sit back and raise a glass to another historic year of sport with the conclusive list of the 100 greatest moments, continuing with numbers 20 to 11.

SPORTS MOLE'S TOP 100 SPORTING MOMENTS OF 2023

100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1



20. Malmo beat Elfsborg to Swedish title on final day (November 12)

Having led the way in the Swedish Allsvenskan for 13 of the final 16 weeks of the season, Elfsborg squandered a glorious chance to wrap up a first league title since 2012 with a game to spare when they were held to a draw by relegated Degerfors on the penultimate matchday.

The slip-up set up a blockbuster finale to the season - the first time since 2009 that the title would be decided on the last day - with Elfsborg having to travel to Malmo, the only other side that could win the title, for their final game.

Matters were still in Elfsborg's hands courtesy of their three-point advantage, meaning that they just needed to avoid defeat to cling on to the trophy, although Malmo's marginally superior goal difference meant that victory for the hosts would see them crowned champions once again.

After the start of the second half was delayed for almost an hour by the fire alarm going off in the stadium due to the sheer number of flares let off by both sets of fans, it eventually all came down to an Isaac Kiese Thelin penalty shortly before the hour mark, as Malmo broke the visitors' hearts with a 1-0 win.

The two sides ended the campaign level on points, but Malmo's goal difference was two better than Elfsborg's to hand them a record-extending 26th title - and third in the last four years - by the narrowest of margins.



19. Tommy Bridewell wins British Superbike title in thrilling fashion (October 15)

Three riders went into the final race of the 2023 British Superbike season capable of winning the title, including teammates Tommy Bridewell and Glenn Irwin, whose rivalry had been bubbling up and grown more and more heated throughout the campaign.

Bridewell went into the season finale at Brands Hatch knowing that a second-placed finish would be enough for him to scoop his first title, whereas Irwin knew he had to win the race and hope that Bridewell finished third or below.

Kyle Ryde also had an outside shot at the title if the Ducati pair fell short, and it all came down to the last lap of the whole season, with all three contenders involved.

The championship lead changed no fewer than nine times throughout the race, with Irwin and Ryde swapping the lead three times in one lap alone before the former moved into first place ahead of Ryde on the penultimate lap.

That left Bridewell in third and set to miss out on the title in agonising fashion until he overtook Ryde into second on the final lap, holding on to the position to beat Irwin to the championship by just 0.5 points - the smallest margin in British Superbike history.



18. Bayern Munich pip Borussia Dortmund to Bundesliga title on final day (May 27)

Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the Bundesliga on May 27, 2023© Reuters

Defeat for Bayern Munich coupled with victory for Borussia Dortmund on the penultimate weekend of the Bundesliga campaign saw BVB leapfrog their main rivals for silverware at the top of the table heading into the final day.

A two-point lead meant that Edin Terzic's side simply needed to win against Mainz 05 to wrap up a first Bundesliga title since 2011-12, ending Bayern's unprecedented decade of dominance in the process.

However, their inferior goal difference meant that any dropped points would open the door for Bayern to move back above them should the 10-time defending champions beat Koln.

Even with such a tantalising setup, few could have predicted the drama which would occur on the final day, with Bayern putting the pressure on early courtesy of Kingsley Coman's goal.

That proved to be the beginning of a nightmare first half for Dortmund, who found themselves 2-0 down against Mainz and having missed a penalty to leave themselves needing three unanswered goals in the second half to avoid throwing away the title on the final day.

Terzic's side got one back, but looked as though they might be handed a reprieve from elsewhere when Koln equalised against Bayern, lifting BVB back to the top of the table.

Indeed, as things stood at 89 minutes, Dortmund would be crowned champions, but Jamal Musiala then grabbed a title-winning goal for Bayern with just one minute of the season remaining.

Dortmund could have still provided one final twist to an incredible final day and threatened the miraculous stoppage-time comeback they needed when they made it 2-2 after 95 minutes, but that left them with only seconds remaining in which to find a third goal which would have won them the title, and it was too little too late in the end.

Bayern were subsequently left to celebrate a record-extending 11th successive Bundesliga title as Dortmund became only the sixth team in Bundesliga history to surrender top spot on the last day of the campaign.



17. Heidenheim earn promotion to Bundesliga for first time ever (May 28)

The Bundesliga produced one of the most dramatic finales in its history in 2022-23, yet just one day later it was outshone by the second tier throwing up an even crazier end to the season.

Much like Borussia Dortmund in the division above, Heidenheim went into the final day with matters in their own hands - victory would assure promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time ever and complete their meteoric rise through the divisions.

However, also like Dortmund, they fell two goals behind, leaving the door open for their rivals Hamburger SV to steal in and clinch the final promotion place.

Two goals in five minutes from Jahn Regensburg left Heidenheim facing heartbreak, and even though the deficit was halved courtesy of an own goal shortly after the second went in, Heidenheim still needed two goals heading into injury time.

For their part, Hamburg beat Sandhausen to mean that, at the time their match had finished, they were in the automatic promotion places.

Only a win would do for Heidenheim, but incredibly they scored in the 93rd minute and then again in the 99th minute to turn a 2-1 defeat into a 3-2 victory which sent them up in the most dramatic fashion possible.

Not only did it see them join RB Leipzig as the only clubs to play in both the fifth tier and top tier of German football this century, it also proved to be enough to win them the title too, with previous leaders Darmstadt falling to a heavy defeat at the hands of Greuther Furth.



16. Miraculous Maxwell slogs Australia to epic win over Afghanistan (November 7)

Australia batsman Glenn Maxwell celebrates century against Netherlands at the Cricket World Cup on October 25, 2023.© Reuters

Australia went into their Cricket World Cup match against Afghanistan as heavy favourites and knowing that a win would secure their place in the semi-finals.

However, after Afghanistan put on 291-5 in Mumbai - including a first World Cup century from any Afghan player by Ibrahim Zadran - and then tore through the Australian opening order to leave them at 91-7, it looked like the underdogs were set for another notable scalp having already beaten previous World Cup winners England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the tournament.

Enter Glenn Maxwell.

The 35-year-old had already bludgeoned the fastest century in World Cup history at the 2023 tournament and was back in the team after missing the win over England due to concussion, which he suffered after falling off the back of a golf buggy.

What followed was an innings widely hailed as the greatest in ODI history, with Maxwell battling through debilitating cramp and back spasms to slog Afghanistan's bowlers all over the park, often while not being able to move his feet at all or run between the wickets.

The physical issues began to arise after he reached his first century from 76 deliveries, and from that point on his inability to make quick singles or doubles meant that he dealt almost exclusive in boundaries, with the occasional hobble to the other end to keep strike.

Pat Cummins provided the defensive work at the other end as Maxwell relentlessly attacked, with the pair putting on a partnership of 202 - just 12 runs of which came from Cummins.

Maxwell ended on an astonishing 201 not out from 128 balls, fittingly providing the winning runs with another sensational six - his 10th of the innings to go with his 21 fours.

The Aussie rode his luck at times, surviving a hat-trick ball first up and being dropped twice, including one easy chance, while on more than one occasion it appeared as though he may have to retire hurt as the physios struggled to quell his cramp.

However, he powered through the pain to produce a truly legendary innings - one of the most remarkable ever seen in cricket - as he became the first Aussie double-centurion in ODIs, the first player to reach an ODI 200 while chasing and the first non-opener to rack up a double-hundred.

It was a superhuman effort that not only shattered records galore and instantly went down in history as one of the game's greatest displays, but crucially it also rescued victory for Australia from the jaws of defeat to ensure their progress into the semi-finals of the competition.



15. King Kohli hits record century to send India into final (November 15)

India's Virat Kohli celebrates after reaching his 50th century, breaking Sachin Tendulkar's record of most number of ODI centuries on November 15, 2023© Reuters

Few sportspeople enjoy the level of adulation, adoration and devotion of fans that is afforded to whomever inherits the status of India's latest cricketing deity, a mantle that Virat Kohli has now carried for over a decade.

There was a time that the great Sachin Tendulkar was untouchable in the discussion of India's greatest ever, but Kohli has muscled his way into the conversation and added another significant argument to his case with a 50th ODI century in November.

Not only did that take him beyond Tendulkar's previous record of 49 hundreds in the format, it also arrived in a World Cup semi-final on home turf, helping India to convincingly beat New Zealand and book their place in the final in front of fanatical home support.

Kohli blasted 117 off just 113 deliveries to become the first man in history to hit 50 centuries in ODIs, also passing Tendulkar's record for most runs in a World Cup having racked up his third century of the tournament - and his first-ever hundred in an ODI World Cup knockout match - in trademark style.

Honourable mentions should also go to fellow centurions Shreyas Iyer and Daryl Mitchell, as well as Mohammed Shami, who took 7-57 to record the best-ever figures by an Indian bowler in an ODI match.

However, the headlines all belonged to Kohli, who once again led the way as his side moved to within one match of a first World Cup crown since 2011.



14. Carlos Alcaraz beats Novak Djokovic in classic Wimbledon final (July 16)

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning the Wimbledon title on July 16, 2023© Reuters

World number one vs. world number two. The shining light of the next generation against arguably the greatest of all time. The 2023 Wimbledon final was all set up for a classic as Carlos Alcaraz looked to end Novak Djokovic's dominance at SW19.

The Serb went into the match looking to win a fifth-straight Wimbledon title, an eighth overall and a 24th Grand Slam crown in total - all of which would have been record-equalling feats in tennis history.

Early on it looked as though the relentless 36-year-old would slap down another pretender to his crown relatively easily too, outclassing Alcaraz to win a one-sided first set 6-1.

However, the Spaniard - 16 years Djokovic's junior and someone who was born in the same year Djokovic joined the pro ranks - overcame any early nerves and stepped up his game to provide a classic final on Centre Court.

An epic, enthralling and engrossing contest swung both ways throughout their near-five hours on court, encapsulated by a mammoth 27-minute game early in the third set which went the way of Alcaraz.

The 20-year-old won that set to take a 2-1 lead, but Djokovic fought back to force a decider, during which Alcaraz impressively held his nerve to clinch a stunning 1-6 7-6[6] 6-1 3-6 6-4 triumph.

The result saw Djokovic's remarkable 34-match Wimbledon winning streak and 10-year unbeaten run on Centre Court come to an end, and was heralded by many as a passing-of-the-torch moment.

Alcaraz, meanwhile, became the third-youngest Wimbledon men's champion ever and established himself as a two-time Grand Slam winner at the age of just 20.



13. LeBron James becomes NBA's leading points-scorer of all time (February 7)

LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar pictured on February 7, 2023© Reuters

LeBron James added another feather to his cap in the argument regarding the NBA's GOAT in February when he became the leading points-scorer in the history of the league.

The 38-year-old hit 38 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 133-130 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a tally which saw him surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-standing record of 38,387.

Abdul-Jabbar moved out in front as the NBA's leading points-scorer in 1984 - eight months before James was born - before retiring with the 38,387 mark in 1989.

That 34-year-old record was finally broken by James, who went into the match needing 36 points to overtake Abdul-Jabbar as the 75-year-old watched on and saluted James from the sidelines.

Following the achievement, which James reached in 150 games fewer than the previous record-holder, there was a brief stoppage in play as the historic moment was marked with an ovation and a speech on court from the new standard-bearer.

Tributes arrived from the likes of US president Joe Biden and numerous other basketball legends, including Michael Jordan - a man who many believe to be James's main rival in the debate about the greatest of all time.



12. Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LVII (February 12)

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates on the podium with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023© Reuters

There may well be an NFL dynasty forming in Kansas City, after the Chiefs won the Vince Lombardi trophy for the second time in the space of four years in February.

Super Bowl LVII more than lived up to the billing as the Chiefs came from behind to overcome the Philadelphia Eagles in thrilling fashion, with the final score of 38-35 making it the third-highest scoring Super Bowl in history.

The Eagles dominated possession and looked well on course to be crowned NFL champions themselves with a 10-point lead at half time and a 27-21 advantage heading into the final quarter.

However, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes once again showed his star quality, despite clearly being in pain after aggravating an existing ankle injury during the first half in Phoenix.

Three touchdown passes and then a crucial late 26-yard run to set up a championship-winning field goal with eight seconds to play saw Mahomes scoop the Super Bowl MVP award, in the process becoming the first player this century to win the NFL MVP, Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP in the same season.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts also enjoyed a superb individual performance, rushing for a record three touchdowns and passing for more than 300 yards, yet he was still outshone by his opposite number.

Harrison Butker was the man to kick that game-winning field goal, capping off an all-time classic Super Bowl which many hailed as one of the greatest of all time.



11. Europe regain Ryder Cup (October 1)

Team Europe captain Luke Donald and Team Europe celebrates with the Ryder Cup after beating Team USA during the final day of the 44th Ryder Cup golf on October 1, 2023© Reuters

After a record-equalling humiliation at Whistling Straits two years earlier, Europe were out for revenge when the Ryder Cup returned to home soil in Rome this year.

A high-quality USA team had been tipped to dominate for a decade following that one-sided 2021 success, but they had not won in Europe for 30 years and it was immediately evident that they would have a mountain to climb in Italy too.

Europe enjoyed their best-ever start to a Ryder Cup to sweep the opening session and take a 4-0 lead, which they extended to a five-point lead by the end of Friday.

That then grew to seven after the opening session on Saturday - including Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg recording the biggest-ever Ryder Cup margin of victory while beating world number one Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka 9&7, a result which left Scheffler in tears.

Reports then surfaced of unrest and protests amongst the American team, but they fought back in the evening session to reduce the gap back to five.

The holders would still need the biggest-ever final-day comeback in order to retain the trophy, and the prospects of that looked even bleaker when Europe made an ideal start to the Sunday singles.

The Americans fought back, though, and made things slightly more nervy for Europe than they might have otherwise liked - an ebb and flow typified by a thrilling heavyweight contest between Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler in match one.

It was Tommy Fleetwood who got Europe the point that ensured they regain the trophy, moving past the required 14.5, with Luke Donald's men ultimately seeing out a 16.5-11.5 triumph.



Read more of the countdown here

Top sporting moments of 2023: 100-91
Top sporting moments of 2023: 90-81
Top sporting moments of 2023: 80-71
Top sporting moments of 2023: 70-61
Top sporting moments of 2023: 60-51
Top sporting moments of 2023: 50-41
Top sporting moments of 2023: 40-31
Top sporting moments of 2023: 30-21
Top sporting moments of 2023: 10-1


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Group A

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