Greatest Ever: Champions League performances
Celtic have laid down the gauntlet, has their ever been a greater Champions League performance?
Take a glance at the statistics from Celtic’s game against Barcelona last night, and the only conclusion you can come to is that the Catalan giants squashed the plucky Scots.
English broadcaster Sky Sports showed Celtic as having just 11% of possession, while Barcelona completed 955 passes to the Bhoys’ 166.
But, as the old saying goes there is only one statistic that matters and that’s the scoreline, and as the final whistle blew last night Celtic Park was almost rocked clean off its foundations as Neil Lennon’s side completed a famous 2-1 win.
The performance and result was one of the all time great defiant performances – but was it the greatest? Check out these other, era-defining performances.
Bayern Munich v Chelsea, 2012 Champions League final
Many people would immediately point to Chelsea’s rearguard action against Barcelona as one of the finest ever against-the-odds performances, but it is easy to remember that the Catalan club spurned a host of chances and Lionel Messi even missed a penalty that would have likely signaled the start of a deluge had it gone in.
Their efforts against Bayern Munich deserve to be rated above those two games for numerous reasons, the chief of which being the monkey that Chelsea have carried on their back since Roman Abramovich bought the club.
They had come so close so many times and were involved in so many controversial incidents, and when you factor that pressure in with the fact it was most of the older players last shot at glory and that they were playing an in-form team in front of their won fans. They went behind but came back and claimed victory by virtue of a penalty shoot-out – a truly epic achievement.
Liverpool v AC Milan, 2005 Champions League Final
Can there be a run down of the greatest ever Champions League performances without a nod towards Liverpool’s heroic efforts against AC Milan in 2005?
You know the story by know but it is worth revisiting – 3-0 down after an Italian deluge in the first half, goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso made it 3-3 before Liverpool completed the charge during a penalty shoot-out. A truly astonishing game.
Barcelona v AC Milan, 1994 Champions League Final
Barcelona went into the final having been crowned European Champions for the first time in 1992, and many expected the Catalan giants to stroll to victory under visionary boss Johan Cruyff. What followed was a massacre.
Milan, under future England boss Fabio Capello taught their Spanish rivals a serious footballing lesson as they ran out 4-0 winners, with a brace from Daniele Massaro, and goals apiece from Dejan Savićević and Marcel Desailly closing the deal mid-way through the second half.
Barcelona, with Romario, Hirsto Stoichkov, a certain Josep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman, were humiliated.
Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester United, 1999 Champions League final
Another game that was always going to be on the list of greatest ever Champions League performances, Manchester United’s comeback has gone down in history as one of the most thrilling, dramatic and stunning moments in sport.
Mario Basler had put the German side in front after just six minutes, and for the majority of the match, an under-par United side appeared destined for defeat.
You know what happened next. Sheringham and Solskjær came to the rescue on the wrong side of 90 minutes to turn things around in the space of a few minutes. Bayern were devastated, United were jubilant. It remains the greatest night in their illustrious history.