The most prestigious club competition in European football, UEFA Champions League, have some of the fantastic moments which still is crystal clear in the eyes of fans.
As we wait for the competition to resume and gear up for the most exciting phases of the cup competition, we turn back the history pages to figure out five of the greatest comebacks in the history of the UEFA Champions League. Nobody was expecting those moments. The tears of sorrow and happiness were swapped between the fans in quick succession as we look towards the greatest comebacks in the competition history.
5. Barcelona Beat Chelsea 6-4 On Aggregate (1999/2000, Quarter-final)
(First Leg: Chelsea 3-1 Barcelona, Second Leg: Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea)
In 2000, Chelsea were not the powerhouse which they have been in the recent years, and the blues were drawn against Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the competition. There were elements of shock and surprise when the Londoners beat the Louis Van Gaal’s Barcelona side 3-1, in the first leg at the Stamford Bridge.
Gianluca Vialli took his Chelsea side to Nou Camp being well aware of the fact that it was not beyond the abilities of a top class Barcelona side, to turn the tie in favor of the Spanish giants. Two first-half goals from Barcelona tilted the tie in their favor.
However, Tore Andre Flo scored for Chelsea in the second half to give Chelsea the lead on aggregate. Barcelona scored a third seven minutes from time to draw the tie 3-3 on aggregate, extra-time was to follow.
A Rivaldo spot kick and Patrick Kluivert’s goal in the first half of the extra time made it 5-1 on the night and 6-4 on aggregate in favor of the Catalan side. Barcelona’s Gabri Garcia described the second leg as ” the greatest night of my life” in post-game chat. Indeed, it was one of the iconic moments in Barcelona’s European history.
4. Deportivo La Coruna Beat AC Milan 5-4 On Aggregate (2003/2004, Quarter-Final)
(First Leg: AC Milan 4-1 Deportivo, Second Leg: Deportivo 4-0 AC Milan )
Deportivo La Coruna managed to get past European giants and the defending champions at the time, AC Milan, in the quarter-finals of the competition in 2004. This game is also considered as one of the greatest comebacks of all time in the competition history. The manner in how Deportivo got the better of a world-class Milan side is astonishing.
The Spanish team took the lead at San Siro in the first leg only to lose the game 4-1, courtesy of a brace from Kaka. However, in the second leg at home, Deportivo put four past Milan without reply. This was the first time when a side came back from being three goals down after the first leg. The result remains one of the greatest comebacks and one of the biggest upsets in the Champions League history.
3. Manchester United 2-1 FC Bayern Munich ( 1999 Champions League Final )
It was the year 1999 and Champions League final was the agenda and Nou Camp the venue. Manchester United under Alex Ferguson having already won the FA Cup and Premier League title set out to achieve what no English side had done before; win the Treble.
The red devils were a goal down and the 90 minutes were up, fourth official’s board showing three minutes of stoppage time. Teddy Sheringham got onto the end of a David Beckham corner in the 91st minute, and United were level. The game seems to be heading to extra time.
However, David Beckham produced another excellent delivery from the corner, this time in the 93rd minute of the game, which found its way to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deflects the ball into the net. United win the game in the most dramatic way you could ever imagine.
The 1999 Champions League final at Nou Camp is one of the most iconic moments in the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson as a Manchester United manager. Greatest legends take this game as the greatest comebacks in the champions league history. This was the first time when an English side won the Treble, which till date remains the only time.
2. Barcelona Beat PSG 6-5 On Aggregate (Round Of 16, 2017)
No team had ever come back from being four goals down in the first leg in the Champions League, which is until last season when FC Barcelona turned a 4-0 first leg loss into a 6-5 win on aggregate in the Round of 16 of Champions League 2016/2017. Thus, this game makes its space in the top five greatest comebacks in the champions league history
PSG had outclassed Luis Enrique’s Barcelona in the first leg in Paris. In the second leg at Nou Camp, Barcelona scored three goals in the first 50 minutes of the game and were just behind by a goal on aggregate. Then, Edinson Cavani silenced the Nou Camp with a stunning volley to give PSG a vital away goal.
Cavani’s goal meant Barcelona still needed three more goals on the night to advance. PSG threw away a lot of chances to kill the game off, and boy they would live to regret the missed chances. Neymar scored Barcelona’s fourth on the night, with a sensational free-kick, 25 yards from goal, in the 89th minute of the game.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Neymar scored a penalty to bring the aggregate scores to 5 goals of each. However, PSG were ahead on away goals. In the dying moments of the game, Neymar finds a late run from Sergi Roberto into the box, which puts the ball back into the net, giving Barcelona the edge over the two legs.
Barcelona were 4-0 down at the end of the first leg, they scored three goals in the last seven minutes to complete one of the best comebacks in the history of the beautiful game.
1. Liverpool Beat AC Milan On Penalties (2005 Champions League Final )
Without a doubt, this game tops the list of the greatest comebacks in the champions league history. The Champions League final 2005 was hosted at Istanbul, and it was between two heavyweights of European football, AC Milan from Italy and Liverpool from England.
But few people expected to see one of the greatest comebacks in the history of football in a Champions League final.
AC Milan took the lead in the very first minute of the game, when Paolo Maldini of all people, popped with an opportunistic finish from inside the box. Hernan Crespo scored a brace before halftime to given Milan three goals cushion at the break. Liverpool were all but beaten.
The final turned on its head when Liverpool managed a sensational spell of six minutes, leading up to the hour mark when they scored three goals.
Captain Steven Gerrard started the comeback for the reds with a header in the 54th minute. A minute later, Smicer fired a driven low shot which found its way into the bottom right corner of the goal.
A couple of minutes later Liverpool were at it again, when Gerrard found space in the Milan box and was in on goal before he was brought down, the referee blows his whistle and points to the spot kick. 15 minutes into the spot kick Liverpool were on the verge of completing something special. Xabi Alonso stepped up, seemingly calm as a cucumber.
Dida saves the spot-kick only for the rebound to fall for Alonso himself, who finds the net this time, Liverpool were back from the dead. No goals for the 90 mins and the extra time was needed, but neither side could take the lead. Liverpool win dramatically in the penalties and Dudek becomes a Liverpool hero saving two spot kicks.
To carve out a comeback such as that and do it in the grandest stage of club football, Liverpool triumphed in one of the greatest nights of European football.