Bale, Ronaldo, Messi - 20 epic Champions League moments we'll all never forget


The Champions League finally returns on Friday night after a five-month absence.

Europe’s premier club cup competition was halted back in March, along with the rest of football, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At one stage it wasn’t clear whether the 2019-20 Champions League campaign would be concluded, but UEFA have organised for the remaining knockout fixtures to be completed during a two-week window this month.

The remaining Round of 16 fixtures will take place on Friday and Saturday, including Manchester City v Real Madrid and Barcelona v Napoli.

The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be one-off matches instead of the usual two-legged ties, while the final will take place at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on August 23.

As we prepare to welcome Champions League football back into our lives, we thought we’d look back at some of the unforgettable moments we can all remember where we were when they happened.

Man Utd’s comeback vs Bayern Munich in 1999

One of the most extraordinary Champions League finals of all time, Manchester United were 1-0 down against Bayern Munich in stoppage-time when two goals in quick succession from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer completed an extraordinary comeback.

Everyone who watched the match will always remember Clive Tyldesley’s immortal words: “And Solskjaer has won it!”.

Liverpool winning the 2005 Champions League in Istanbul

No list of the Champions League’s most unforgettable moments would be complete without a mention for Liverpool’s famous comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul.

The Reds looked dead and buried at half-time and conceded three first-half goals, but were somehow back on level terms by the 60th minute thanks to goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso.

The final then went to penalties and the rest is history.

Zinedine Zidane’s volley vs Bayer Leverkusen

Zinedine Zidane’s volley is still, in the eyes of many football fans, the greatest goal in Champions League history.

Roberto Carlos’s lofted ‘pass’ went about two miles in the air but that didn’t matter to Zizou, who brilliantly rifled the ball into the back of the net with his left foot.

Loris Karius’s mistakes in the 2018 final

Watching Loris Karius go through his own personal hell at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev on 26 May 2018 was tough.

The goalkeeper made two of the worst mistakes you’re ever likely to see in a Champions League final, gifting goals to Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale in the process.

The 27-year-old’s Liverpool career ended that night.

Lionel Messi destroys Jerome Boateng

Lionel Messi produced one of the finest performances of his illustrious for Barcelona against Bayern Munich in the 2014-15 Champions League semi-finals.

The moment he sent Jerome Boateng to sleep sent social media into overdrive.

Andres Iniesta’s equaliser at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea fans are still fuming with referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after Barcelona sealed their place in the 2009 Champions League final following a dramatic semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Andres Iniesta’s incredible last-gasp equaliser sent the Catalan giants through on away goals.

Jose Mourinho running down Old Trafford touchline

The first moment football fans really sat up and realised Jose Mourinho was different to any other manager.

When his FC Porto side knocked Manchester United out the Champions League in 2004, the Portuguese tactician famously sprinted down the touchline to join in with the celebrations.

Barcelona’s comeback vs PSG

Arguably the most extraordinary comeback in Champions League history.

Barcelona were 4-0 down from the first leg and then appeared dead and buried when Edinson Cavani’s 62nd minute away goal at Camp Nou made it 5-3 on aggregate.

But three goals after the 88th minute from Neymar (2) and Sergi Roberto completed what many football fans regard as the most ridiculous comeback of all time.

Marcus Rashford’s penalty vs PSG

Nobody gave Manchester United a hope of reaching the 2018-19 Champions League quarter-finals after losing 2-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side sealed a memorable 3-1 win in Paris thanks to Marcus Rashford’s dramatic late spot-kick.

Liverpool beat Barcelona 4-0

Another breathtaking comeback, Liverpool reached the 2019 Champions League final against all the odds.

The Reds’ 4-0 victory over Barcelona at Anfield will live long in the memory of every football fan.

Want to give a Liverpool fan goosebumps? Just say the words: 'Corner taken quickly... Origi!!'

Fernando Torres’s goal vs Barcelona

Fernando Torres’s goal for Chelsea against Barcelona at Camp Nou in the 2011-12 semi-finals was made all the more memorable thanks to Gary Neville’s ‘goalgasm’.

Listen to it again here…

Gareth Bale roasts Inter Milan

“Taxi for Maicon!”

Inter Milan’s revered Brazilian full-back was never the same after Gareth Bale destroyed him back in 2011.

Bale scored an incredible hat-trick at the San Siro before inspiring Spurs to a 3-1 victory over the Italian giants at White Hart Lane a fortnight later.

Lucas Moura’s hat-trick vs Ajax

Yet another remarkable comeback, Tottenham reached the 2019 Champions League final thanks to an incredible hat-trick from Lucas Moura.

Mauricio Pochettino was in tears at the final whistle and so was every other Spurs fan.

Steven Gerrard’s goal vs Olympiacos

"Gerrard! Oh you beauty! What a hit son! What a hit!”

Liverpool’s captain marvel famously helped the Reds seal a vital 3-1 win over Olympiacos in the 2004-05 group stages.

Wayne Rooney’s hat-trick vs Fenerbahce

One of the best debuts ever, Wayne Rooney immediately endeared himself to the Manchester United fans by scoring a brilliant Old Trafford hat-trick against Fenerbahce.

Didier Drogba turns Chelsea into European Champions

Didier Drogba cemented his status as arguably Chelsea’s greatest ever player with his performance in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

The Blues went into that final as the firm underdogs but won on penalties thanks largely to Drogba.

The Ivorian’s header sent the final to extra-time. He then stepped up during the shoot-out and converted the winning penalty.

Paul Scholes’s rocket vs Barcelona

Paul Scholes fired Manchester United to the 2008 Champions League final at Barcelona’s expense with an unbelievable strike from the edge of the box.

Lionel Messi solo goal vs Real Madrid in 2011

The moment everyone knew Lionel Messi was playing a totally different sport to everyone else.

Gareth Bale’s overhead kick vs Liverpool

Gareth Bale was only named among the substitutes by Zinedine Zidane in the 2018 final against Liverpool and was clearly desperate to prove a point when he came on in the second half.

Three minutes after coming on, the Welshman scored one of the most remarkable overhead kicks of all time.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s overhead kick vs Juventus

Just a few weeks earlier, Ronaldo scored his own sensational bicycle kick in a Champions League quarter-final clash against Juventus - the club he would join that summer.

Whose overhead kick was better: Bale’s or Ronaldo’s?

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