The Champions League is seen by all fans around the world as the absolute pinnacle of football, even considered higher, by many, than international football. The best clubs from all around Europe pit themselves against each other in the ultimate tournament to see who comes out on tip. Sometimes there are upsets where the leading team in the world gets stuffed by a minnow but other times, the unexpected threatens to happen but the losing team find a way to defy the odds and come back. With this in mind we decided to list what we consider to be the greatest comebacks in the history of the Champions League. (not in order of greatness).
Deportivo La Coruna vs. AC Milan, 2004 – (Losing 4-1) Won 5-4
No doubt about this one being one of the most outrageous comebacks the CL has ever seen, trailing 4-1 from the first leg quarter final against the holders A.C Milan, Deportivo La Coruna fired back to win 5-4 on aggregate and meet F.C. Porto in the Semi’s. Beautifully orchestrated from midfield by the one and only Juan Carlos Valeron the Galicians hit the team from Italy with both barrels going 3 goals up in the first half thanks to Valeron, Pandiani and Luque, wiping out Milan’s first leg advantage. With 13 minutes remaining RCD club captain Fran struck a volley sweetly and it nestled in the back of the net to cement this comeback as one of the best ever probably paying out ridiculous amounts on football bets all over Europe.
Liverpool vs. AC Milan, 2005 – (Losing 3-0) Levelled to 3-3 & Won on penalties
No list of the greatest Champions League comebacks is complete without this one, The Miracle of Istanbul. A.C. Milan, with a star studded squad including Pirlo, Kaka, Shevchenko et all were leading 3-0 at half time and on their way to European Triumph, only, nobody thought to tell Liverpool that I was done and dusted. The reds flew out of the traps at half time and set about reducing the deficit, club captain Steven Gerrard notching the first, Smicer adding the second 2 minutes later and Xabi Alonso completing the unlikely comeback a further 5 minutes after. After both teams battled to come out on top throughout regulation and extra time, the game went to penalties. Liverpool triumphed from the spot marking this game as one of the most talked about in the history of football.
Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain, 2017 (Losing 4-0) Won 6-5
The most recent on this list and seemingly, one of the most unlikely given the score line, Barca trailed PSG 4-0 from the first leg of the Champions League last 16 and seemed to be down and out, especially when even after Barca pulled 3 goals back, Cavani scored for PSG to give them the edge on away goals. It was 5-3 to PSG when in the 88th minute Neymar curled in a pearler of a free kick, and just 2 minutes later was hauled down for a penalty and dully tucked it away. With the scores at 5-5 PSG still went through on away goals but in the 95th minute stand-in right back Sergi Roberto for Barcelona popped up in the most unlikely of positions and managed to score. Camp Nou erupted as did much of the football watching world to the biggest comeback of the last decade.
Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich, 1999 (Losing 1-0) Won 2-1
As they were prior to Alex Ferguson’s arrival, Manchester United are forever in Liverpool’s shadow in the comeback stakes with everyone remembering the Miracle in Istanbul and not many ever mentioning this game. United were second best for much of the contest after Bayern took an early lead through Mario Basler. It took until the 91st minute for United to equalise through Teddy Sheringham and level the tie. With golden goal extra time looming, uniteds late goal specialist Ole Gunnar Solskjaer popped up and scored in the 93rd minute to send the Red Devil’s fans into a rampage and claim the UEFA Champions League.
Chelsea vs. Napoli, 2012
Another often overlooked achievement is when the terrible looking Chelsea of 2012 managed to scrape themselves a UEFA Champions League Trophy. The team was serious struggling but managed to win the entire tournament and there’s no doubt that this game was the catalyst. After losing the first leg 3-1 many thought it was all over for the Blues but even after Napolie scored again, Chelsea managed to level it up at 4-4 and take it to extra time with goals from Lampard, Terry and Drogba. Salvation came in the form of Branislav Ivanovic who scored in extra time to send Chelsea through and on their way to win the whole thing!