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Top 100 sporting moments of 2023: 60-51

Sports Mole counts down the 100 greatest sporting moments of 2023, continuing with numbers 60 to 51.

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 60 to 51.

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



60. Leigh win first Challenge Cup for 52 years (August 12)

The 2023 Challenge Cup final was already sure to be an historic affair, with two clubs - Leigh Leopards and Hull KR - making a rare trip down to Wembley for the showpiece event.

Hull KR's last triumph in the competition came in 1980, while Leigh had to go back to 1971 for the last time they won the famous trophy, and for the full 80 minutes plus extra time there was very little indication of which team would end their drought.

A relatively low-scoring but relentlessly gripping and absorbing battle swung in Leigh's favour when Tom Briscoe went over to make it 16-10, only for Hull KR to equalise in the final minute through Matt Parcell's score from a hail mary kick into the try area.

That took the game to a golden point extra time, and after both teams made errors which could have proved costly, Lachlan Lam wrote his name into Leigh legend with a drop goal to send the leopard skin-clad half of Wembley - and his dad and head coach Adrian Lam - into delirium.

While Hull KR ultimately had to settle for the disappointment of losing, they more than played their part in a classic final that was another sign of Leigh's meteoric rise from Championship side last season to Challenge Cup winners and playoff contenders in 2023.



59. Man City win Manchester derby FA Cup final (June 3)

Manchester City players celebrate with the trophy after winning the FA Cup on June 3, 2023© Reuters

Never before in the history of the oldest football competition in the world had local rivals Manchester City and Manchester United faced off, and there was more than just silverware on the line when that finally did occur at Wembley in June.

Man City were bidding to add the FA Cup crown to their Premier League title, and in doing so complete leg two of a possible treble that would see them join none other than Man United as the only English clubs to have won the three biggest trophies available to them in a single campaign.

Man United were aiming to stop City's class of 2023 joining Sir Alex Ferguson's legendary 1998-99 squad, while also looking for a double themselves, having already picked up the EFL Cup during a positive first season at the helm for Erik ten Hag.

It took just 13 seconds for those hopes to suffer a significant blow, though, as City skipper Ilkay Gundogan registered the fastest-ever FA Cup final goal with a blistering volley almost straight from kickoff.

A controversial handball call allowed Bruno Fernandes to level things up from the penalty spot, but Gundogan was the hero again for Man City with the winner - another volley - six minutes into the second half.

That clinched a seventh FA Cup trophy for Man City, but more importantly left them 90 minutes from immortality as their treble hunt went on.



58. Sevilla beat Roma on penalties to win Europa League (May 31)

Sevilla players pose for a picture with the trophy after winning the Europa League on May 31, 2023© Reuters

The 2023 Europa League final was set up perfectly as 'The Specialists vs. The Special One' - Sevilla having won the tournament more often than any other club and Roma boss Jose Mourinho looking to extend his own perfect record in European finals.

Mourinho certainly left his mark on the match too, with his trademark playing style contributing to no fewer than 14 yellow cards being brandished by English referee Anthony Taylor - including one to Mourinho himself.

Ultimately, though, the Portuguese had to swallow the unfamiliar taste of defeat in a European final as Sevilla won on penalties to lift the trophy for a record-extending seventh time.

Roma arguably had the better of the match itself and took the lead through Paulo Dybala, only for an unfortunate Gianluca Mancini own goal to restore parity in the second half.

Nerves were shredded as the clock ticked into an 11th minute of added time at the end of extra time, when Chris Smalling hit the crossbar in the final meaningful action before penalties.

Mancini suffered more heartbreak when he, along with Roger Ibanez, missed from the spot for Roma, allowing Gonzalo Montiel to step up for the decisive penalty, just as he had in the World Cup final last year.

There was another twist to come, though, as Montiel saw his penalty saved, only for a review to rule that the keeper had come off his line, forcing a retake which Montiel this time dispatched.

That made it seven wins from seven finals in this competition for Sevilla, who completed a remarkable turnaround under their third manager of the season having been battling relegation at one point in La Liga earlier in the campaign.



57. Tyson Fury controversially avoids boxing's greatest-ever upset against Francis Ngannou (October 28)

Francis Ngannou after knocking down Tyson Fury on October 28, 2023.© Reuters

Suffice to say, former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was given no chance by the vast majority of predictions heading into his first-ever professional boxing fight against the unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

Fury had taken the cross-over fight despite the clamour for a unification bout against Oleksandr Usyk, and it was a decision that came within a whisker of coming back to bite him in the most spectacular fashion.

It was clear early on in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia that Ngannou was better than many - including Fury himself - had expected, and in the third round he scored a sensational knockdown that was heard around the world.

Suddenly, arguably the biggest shock in boxing history looked like it could be on the cards, and that belief only grew as Fury struggled to inflict any real damage on Ngannou, who was largely the aggressor.

Indeed, having unexpectedly gone the distance with the champion, many observers felt that Ngannou had clearly won the fight.

However, the judges controversially felt differently - including one who scored it 96-93 to Fury - as the Gypsy King was handed a split decision to maintain his unbeaten record and avoid humiliation on the world stage.

The scorecards did raise fresh questions regarding the integrity of the contest, and of the sport of boxing as a whole, but it was also a bout which appeared to immediately cement Ngannou among the top heavyweight boxers in the world.



56. Jon Rahm wins The Masters (April 9)

Spain's Jon Rahm celebrates with his green jacket and the trophy after winning The Masters on April 9, 2023© Reuters

Pitted as a battle between the PGA Tour and LIV golf as the two rival tours' star names went head to head, the 2023 Masters lived up to expectations at Augusta.

Plenty of traditional golf fans will have been fearing a LIV success when Brooks Koepka made a stunning start to the tournament, which was affected by adverse weather conditions which even caused trees to dramatically fall on the course, miraculously not injuring any spectators.

It was Koepka's fall which ultimately made the biggest difference, though, as a final-round 75 for the American opened the door for Jon Rahm to surge to glory with a brilliantly consistent final round.

The Spaniard ultimately finished four shots clear of LIV duo Koepka and Phil Mickelson, who became the oldest player in Masters history to finish in the top five.

Rahm's triumph also saw him ascend to the world number one ranking, while he became the first European to win both the US Open and The Masters, leaving him halfway towards a career Grand Slam.

To make things even more special, the success came on what would have been the 66th birthday of former two-time champion Seve Ballesteros, leading Rahm to dedicate his win to his legendary compatriot.



55. Sean Strickland stuns Israel Adesanya to win UFC middleweight title (September 10)

Sean Strickland (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Israel Adesanya on September 9, 2023© Reuters

The co-main event at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia seemed to have an air of inevitability about it, as middleweight king Israel Adesanya strode out confidently for his 11th title fight against a man ranked only fifth in the division.

Indeed, Sean Strickland had only been drafted into the title picture because of an injury to Dricus du Plessis, and he was understandably the overwhelming underdog heading into his first ever title bout.

The American was not happy to go along with the script, though, and he dropped Adesanya in the first round before acting as the aggressor for the rest of the fight.

Adesanya failed to inflict any serious damage on his opponent, and at the end of the five rounds all of the judges unanimously declared Strickland the winner.

It was an outcome that shook the UFC world and will go down as one of the biggest shocks in the company's history.



54. Coco Gauff wins first Grand Slam title at US Open (September 9)

Coco Gauff of the U.S. celebrates with the trophy and second place Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka after winning the U.S. Open on September 9, 2023© Reuters

Ever since bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old at Wimbledon, Coco Gauff had been tipped as a future Grand Slam winner and poster girl of women's tennis.

The now 19-year-old fulfilled that potential at the US Open in September, finally getting her hands on a major trophy, and doing it on home soil too.

Seeded sixth for the tournament and coming up against the incoming world number one Aryna Sabalenka, the American was considered the underdog for the final at Flushing Meadows, and sure enough went down 2-6 in the first set.

However, cheered on by a raucous New York crowd, the home favourite fought back to win 2-6 6-3 6-2, combating Sabalenka's power hitting with incredible movement around the court which contributed to the Belarusian's 46 unforced errors.

As well as being her first Grand Slam title, Gauff's triumph also saw her emulate her heroine Serena Williams as she became the first American teen to win the US Open since Serena in 1999.



53. PSG win record 11th Ligue 1 title (May 27)

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) players celebrate winning the Ligue 1 with the trophy on June 3, 2023© Reuters

The 2022-23 season will not go down as a great one in the annals of Paris Saint-Germain, with early exits from the Champions League and Coupe de France contributing to some supporters turning on the big-name, expensive players such as Neymar and Lionel Messi, who had failed to bring European glory to the club once again.

However, there was a notable slice of history in May as the capital club became the most decorated team in the history of the French top flight by claiming an 11th title, breaking a record that had been held by Saint-Etienne since 1981.

PSG went into their penultimate game needing only one point against Strasbourg to wrap up a ninth title in the past 11 years with a game to spare.

Christophe Galtier's side duly drew 1-1, with Messi getting PSG's goal and overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo as the highest-scoring player in the history of Europe's top five leagues in the process.

Messi also became the joint-most decorated player in football history with the Ligue 1 title to add to his collection, although that would not be enough to keep him at the club.



52. Cricketer takes six wickets in over to win match (November 14)

True sporting perfection is an incredibly rare thing, and the holy grail for bowlers in cricket has always been the mythical feat of taking a wicket with every ball in a six-ball over.

It has never been done in the history of the professional game, but this particular sporting nirvana was achieved in the humble surroundings of the Carrara Community Centre on Australia's Gold Coast.

Surfers Paradise looked to be firmly on course for victory over Mudgeeraba in the Gold Coast Premier League Division Three, needing only five runs from the final over and with six wickets still to play with.

Mudgeeraba captain Gareth Morgan took on the responsibility of bowling that final over, and incredibly he took six wickets in six balls to seal a scarcely-believable four-run win for his side.

The feat saw Surfers Paradise collapse from 174-4 to 174 all out when chasing 179 to win, and earned the previously-unknown Morgan a spot in cricketing folklore.



51. Vegas Golden Knights win first Stanley Cup (June 14)

The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate winning the NHL title on June 13, 2023© Reuters

Eyebrows were raised when Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley boldly predicted that they would win the Stanley Cup within six years after being unveiled as a new expansion team in 2017.

Six years later, and Foley's side made good on his vow with victory over the Florida Panthers to be crowned NHL champions for the first time.

A 9-3 win in game five sealed a 4-1 triumph and the famous trophy for Vegas, whose captain Mark Stone stole the show with the first Finals hat-trick since 1996 - incidentally the last time Florida reached the Finals.

Alec Martinez, Reilly Smith, Michael Amadio, Ivan Barbashev and Nicolas Roy were all on the scoresheet too, while Vegas goaltender Adin Hill made 31 saves.



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: 50-41
Top sporting moments of 2023: 40-31
Top sporting moments of 2023: 30-21
Top sporting moments of 2023: 20-11
Top sporting moments of 2023: 10-1


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Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
Q Germany Germany22006
2 Switzerland Switzerland21104
3 Scotland flag Scotland20111
4 Hungary Hungary20020

Group B

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2 Portugal Portugal11003
3 Czech Republic Czech Republic10010
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