Following Barcelona's comeback against AC Milan at the Camp Nou and Arsenal's failed attempt to eliminate Bayern Munich, how do such brilliant performances rank amongst the greatest in the history of the UEFA Champions League?
Performances such as Barcelona's 5-1 thrashing of Chelsea in 2000 just miss out, but do deserve a notable mention. Another match such as Monaco's dramatic elimination of Real Madrid in the 2004 quarter-finals on away goals, also deserves a special mention.
There are few other great and memorable moments in football than a comeback in Europe's elite competition, so take a look at the top five unbelievable and incredible matches that truly define the unpredictability and excitement of the Champions League. Think I've missed one? Leave your nominations in the comment box below.
5. Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester United | 1998-1999
The match that sealed Manchester United’s famous treble. In front of over 90,000 fans, a truly dramatic match was about to unfold. Just six minutes into the match, Manchester United defender Ronny Johnsen fouled Bayern striker Carston Jancker on the edge of the area, allowing Mario Basler, the eventual Man of the Match, to strike the ball low into the goal, thus giving Bayern the lead.
However, the drama of this match waited until the finalminutes, when substitute Teddy Sheringham scored in the 90th minute. United then won another corner, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prodded the ball into the roof of the net in the 92nd minute, allowing United to achieve the seemingly impossible and win the Champions League.
4. Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan | 2003-2004
Heavily favoured Italian giants Milan had already won 4-1 at the San Siro in the first leg, through goals from Andriy Shevchenko, Andrea Pirlo, and a brace from Kaka, cancelling out Walter Pandiani's header. However, in the second leg's first half, Milan saw their lead wiped out. In just 43 minutes, goals from Pandiani, Juan Valeron and Albert Luque saw Deportivo sneaking through on away goals. The job was truly finished, though, in the second half, when a deflected goal from Gonzalez Fran saw the Spaniards reach the semi-finals following an unlikely elimination.
3. Chelsea 4-1 Napoli | 2011-2012
Chelsea had been easily beaten 3-1 in the first leg in Naples, which naturally led to the dismissal of manager Andre Villas-Boas. Chelsea hero Roberto di Matteo, who inspired the Blues to a historic win, replaced him. In the first half, Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba scored an incredible header to give Chelsea the lead, which was doubled by Chelsea captain John Terry minutes after half time.
However, a strong strike by Napoli midfielder Gokhan Inler saw the Italians back in front in the tie, but Frank Lampard's penalty completed the goals by Chelsea's "old guard" and took the game to extra time. Branislav Ivanovic scored in the 105th minute to send the Blues into the quarter finals and complete a remarkable comeback.
2. Deportivo La Coruna 4-3 PSG | 2000-2001
Arguably the greatest comeback in normal time, the Spaniards seemingly have a knack for coming from behind to win in sensational fashion. Deportivo were at home to French side PSG in the second game of the group stage, but were behind after 29 minutes through a goal from Jay-Jay Okocha. The Parisians lead was doubled through Laurent Leroy just before half time with a beautiful goal. Leroy made it 3-0 to PSG, minutes before Walter Pandiani, a substitute, scored a bullet header. Another substitute, Tristan, scored a header to make it 3-2. Despite PSG making defensive changes, Uruguayan Pandiani was not to be stopped, as he scored two more headers to complete his own hat-trick and also win the game for Deportivo, with his winner being scored in the 84th minute.
1. AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (Liverpool win 3-2 on penalties) | 2004-2005
Not only is it one of the greatest comebacks ever, it is also rated as one of the greatest matches in football history. As genuine underdogs heading into the Champions League final in Istanbul, Liverpool suffered a terrible start, as Italian giants Milan had the lead inside the first minute through Paolo Maldini.
Things didn't improve for the English side as Milan's Argentinian striker Hernan Crespo scored twice before half time to give the Italians a seemingly unassailable lead of 3-0.
However, this lead was wiped out after just 15 second half minutes. First, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard scored a header, which was quickly followed by a Vladimir Smicer goal. Just two minutes later, Liverpool equalised through a Xabi Alonso goal, who had tapped in the rebound to his own missed penalty.
The game went to extra time, which was dominated by Milan, who should've won but for a miraculous Jerzy Dudek double save. The game went to penalties, where Ukrainian legend and former-European player of the year Shevchenko had his penalty saved by the "spaghetti legs" of Dudek, meaning Liverpool, along with manager Rafael Benitez, were somehow the 2005 UEFA Champions League winners.
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