Torquay goalkeeper Lucas Covolan sparked wild celebrations among The Gulls fans after popping up with a dramatic equaliser in the National League playoff final against Hartlepool. The prize on offer for either team heading into the final is not only a return to the Football League, but a cool £1million in prize money.
Hartlepool had delivered the first blow midway through the first half when Luke Armstrong scored to give them the lead.
And Dave Challinor’s side may well have been dreaming about promotion to the Football League as they entered stoppage time still holding onto their slender advantage.
But Torquay equalised in the most surreal circumstances in the final few seconds of the match.
Hartlepool failed to clear the ball from a corner, which Covolan had gone up for.
The Brazilian, who played against Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson when they were youngsters in their home country, stayed up for another looping ball into the box.
And Covolan was first to the ball as he headed past Brad James, sparking wild scenes at Ashton Gate.
Hartlepool fans could be seen holding their heads in disbelief while Torquay supporters didn’t quite know how to celebrate.
And the equalising goal soon went viral on social media with ‘Unbelievable Jeff’ trending on Twitter.
And the 30-year-old saved both of Hartlepool’s first two spot kicks, although his team-mates were unable to take advantage.
All four spot kicks were missed, but both sides soon started finding the net with some brilliant penalties.
But Brad James ended up being the hero of the match after he tipped Matt Buse’s effort onto the crossbar, sending Hartlepool back into the football league.
Torquay have been out of the Football League since being relegated from League Two back in 2014.
And they went down to the National League South in 2018 before bouncing straight back the following season.
Their first return to the National League saw them consolodate a mid-table finish before the season was ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This past season though they had pushed Sutton United all the way to the final few games of the season for the title.
Sutton came out on top with Torquay qualifying for the playoff semi-finals, where they defeated Notts County.
Hartlepool meanwhile beat Bromley and then Stockport on their way to the playoff final.