Five of the greatest Champions League second leg comebacks in history


The Champions League is the greatest club football competition in the world.

For any player, winning the European cup would be close to the top of their professional bucket list.

There's nothing quite like a night under the Champions League lights for fans either.

Time and time again, we've seen teams reach new heights in the competition and this season has been no different.

Real Madrid vs Ajax last night was a prime example of just that. Los Blancos took a 2-1 victory into the second leg at the Bernabeu but were sensationally beaten by the Dutch side on their own patch.

A 4-1 victory away to the holders saw a youthful Ajax overturn their first-leg deficit and go through 5-3 on aggregate - and they scored some stunning goals in the process.

Like Ajax, there are other teams hoping to pull off big comebacks in their last-16 second leg fixtures.

Manchester United go into their return match against Paris Saint-Germain tonight trailing by two goals, while Schalke need to beat Manchester City away at the Etihad.

Ajax v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus were also beaten 2-0 in their first leg against Atletico Madrid, so will be hoping the Ballon d'Or holder can inspire a turnaround in Turin.

The chances of any of these sides advancing to the next round are slim though, to say the least - but the Champions League always offers a chance, even if it is a small one.

After all, we've seen plenty of epic comebacks before, including one just last night. But on top of Ajax’s famous victory, here are five of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.

Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

1) Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (2012)

Back in March 2012, Chelsea were on the brink of collapsing.

They'd just sacked manager Andre Villas-Boas after he selected a strange team to face Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie - a game the Blues lost 3-1.

By the time the second leg rolled around, Roberto Di Matteo was in charge on an interim basis and had what seemed like an impossible task to turn things around. 

But on a special night at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea booked their place in the quarter-finals of the competition. 


They won 4-1 after extra-time and advanced 5-4 on aggregate. 

Goals from Didier Drogba and John Terry either side of halftime put Chelsea in a commanding position, before Gokhan Inler's strike saw Napoli take back control. 

Frank Lampard's penalty sent the tie to extra-time and it was Branislav Ivanovic who eventually thumped home to complete the epic turnaround. 

What makes this win so special, is that the commitment and passion Chelsea showed that night no doubt helped inspire them to win the entire competition that year. 


2) Roma 3-0 Barcelona (2018)

In last season's quarter-finals, Barcelona took a 4-1 lead into their away fixture against Roma and were heavy favourites to advance.

But goals from Edin Dzeko, Daniele de Rossi and Kostas Manolas sent the Stadio Olimpico into hysteria. 

Roma took the lead thanks to Dzeko's sixth-minute strike and they were 2-0 up just before the hour after De Rossi converted his penalty.


Defender Manolas completed a famous Italian comeback in the 82nd minute as he headed in at the near post and by keeping a clean sheet, Roma scraped through to the last four on away goals. 

3) Deportivo 4-0 AC Milan (2004)

AC Milan were the strongest team in Europe 15 years ago and after a 4-1 win in the first leg of their quarter-final against Deportivo, they looked sure to reach the semis and go on to defend their UCL crown.

But incredibly, Deportivo, who had to negotiate their way through a qualifying round before entering the group stage proper, knocked off the holders and the tournament favourites in the quarters.


Even though it went down as one of the greatest feats in modern European football, very few can actually remember the details of the game.

First-half goals came from Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque, meaning that at the break, Deportivo were heading through on away goals. 

Gonzalez Fran rounded off the scoring with 15 minutes to play and a 5-4 aggregate win saw the Spanish side join an unlikely trio of Chelsea, Monaco and Porto in the semi-finals. 


4) Chelsea 4-2 Barcelona (2005)

Like the March of 2012, the same month of 2005 produced a similar Champions League classic at Stamford Bridge. 

The Blues had only just started to establish themselves as a European force and took on one of the favourites, Barca, in the last-16. 

The first leg was shrouded in controversy - Chelsea were 1-0 up and comfortable at the Nou Camp before Drogba was sent off in contentious fashion.


Barca's numerical advantage saw them turn the game around and head to London with a 2-1 advantage, while managers Jose Mourinho and Frank Rijkaard argued in the press throughout the buildup. 

On the night, it was Chelsea who wrote a now famous chapter in their history book. 

The hosts went 3-0 up inside 20 minutes thanks to goals from Eidur Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard and Damien Duff.


Ronaldinho hit back with a quickfire double, which included one of his greatest ever goals, to make it 3-2 before the break.

That score would have been enough to send Barca though, but captain Terry once again swung the tie back in Chelsea's favour with 15 minutes to play, jumping highest to head home from a corner. 

The Blues held on to a 4-2 win and that night against Barca at the Bridge is still one of the greatest games in their recent history.  


5) Barcelona 6-1 PSG (2017)

Barca may have been the beaten side in two of the above matches, but they arguably completed the greatest comeback in European history against Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. 

Two years ago, Lionel Messi and co. went into their second leg 4-0 down and in fact, entered the 88th minute of the game 5-3 down on aggregate. 

Luis Suarez, Messi and an own goal had seen Barca race into a 3-0 first-half lead before Edinson Cavani pulled one back in the second period to almost guarantee PSG a place in the quarters. 


Cue the quickfire comeback. A delicious free-kick from Neymar with two minutes left gave Barca hope before Suarez was brought down inside the box in the first minute of injury time. 

His Brazilian teammate converted the spot-kick to make it 5-5 on aggregate - but as it stood, the French side would still advance on away goals.

But in the 95th minute, with everything on the line, Neymar turned provider to complete a stunning performance. 

He whipped a dangerous free-kick into the PSG box and it was Sergi Roberto who met it and poked the ball past Kevin Trapp and into the net. 


It was a truly stunning finish to the game and Barca's seven-minute comeback may never be topped. 

There we have it. The Champions League really has produced some amazing second leg comebacks over the years. 

Anything can happen in Europe's elite competition, so the likes of Man United, Juventus and Schalke will all be hoping to write another famous comeback chapter when the competition resumes this week.

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