As Wembley 2013 draws ever closer, here's a rundown of five of the greatest individual performances in Champions League history.

Roy Keane | Juventus 2 Manchester United 3 | 1999 semi-finals

Funnily enough, it was a performance that encapsulated the career of Roy Keane. Squaring up against a midfield which included Edgar Davids, Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane did little to hamper the exquisite passing and movement that Keane showed that night.

Having gone down two goals within eleven minutes courtesy of Filippo Inzaghi, Keane inspired Manchester United not only with a headed goal but with the type of cut-and-thrust play normally unseen from a defensive-minded midfielder.

A 3-2 victory led them to what some call the most exciting Champions League final ever. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that Keane did this whilst knowing he would miss it.

Steven Gerrard | AC Milan 3 Liverpool 3 | 2005 final

For about 45 minutes, Steven Gerrard watched Kaka and Andrea Pirlo weave their way through a Liverpool midfield which was seemingly well out of its depth.

Gerrard, who in the first half had operated in a more central role, was given the freedom of the pitch when Rafael Benitez decided to substitute Steve Finnan for Dietmar Hamann. It would change the complexion of the match entirely. Within nine minutes of the restart Gerrard scored a fantastic header which became the catalyst for arguably the greatest comeback in European football history. He played almost every position that night and thoroughly deserved to lift Liverpool's fifth European Cup..

Lionel Messi | Barcelona 4 Arsenal 1 | 2010 quarter-finals

Arsenal were always going to be vulnerable. They had earned a 2-2 draw in the first leg after Cesc Fabregas had put in an inspired performance against his current employers. Arsenal's lack of defensive quality was always going to be put under scrutiny at the Camp Nou and Messi compounded that fear with a display of finishing that has rarely ever been seen before.

He scored four goals that night and, at times, made Arsenal look like amateurs. 

Ronaldo | Manchester United 4 Real Madrid 3 | 2003 quarter-finals

It was a blockbuster of a tie with star names littering the field at Old Trafford, but there was one man that shone far and beyond his contemporaries and that was Ronaldo.

It was a hat-trick which, at the time, cemented his status as the world's top player. The hat-trick is probably best remembered for the last goal which was a 30-yard dipping shot that left Fabian Barthez for dead. He received a standing ovation from the Old Trafford faithful, despite being the sole contributing factor to their exit from the competition.

Didier Drogba | Bayern Munich 1 Chelsea 1 | 2012 final

Didier Drogba was a giant for Chelsea that evening. With the odds stacked against Chelsea, not only playing a side considered stronger, but on their home patch, Drogba proved a nuisance all night.

He scored what is probably considered the most important goal in the history of Chelsea, a header in the 88th minute - scored  despite being pushed in the back. A turbulent period of extra time saw him concede a penalty which was subsequently saved by Petr Cech. With Chelsea leading on penalties, Drogba scored with what would be his final kick for his beloved Chelsea.

Honourable mentions:

Kaka | Manchester United 3 AC Milan 2 | 2007 semi-finals
Zinedine Zidane | Real Madrid 2 Bayer Leverkusen 1 | 2002 final
Andres Iniesta | Barcelona 2 Manchester United 0 | 2009 final
Jamie Carragher | AC Milan 3 Liverpool 3 | 2005 final

 

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Topics:
UEFA Champions League
Football
Steven Gerrard