So near yet so far: The greatest results that never were

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So near yet so far. No, not Arsenal's motto, but it should be; the Gunners have made quite a name for themselves by switching it on when all seems lost to move to the brink of pulling of a stunning comeback only to fail gallantly.

Last night Arsene Wenger's men did just that. 3-1 down from their last-16 first leg tie against Bayern Munich, the north London side pulled the scores level on aggregate but couldn't quite get over the final hurdle and went out on away goals.

Inspired by the Gunners' misery, GMF thought this would be as good a time as any to look back at those who have shown bravery in the face of adversity - but still failed. Enjoy.

Arsenal v AC Milan, 2012

After an intro like that, we couldn't possibly start with another team. Yep it's Arsenal, and just 12 months ago they were trying and failing in a manner reminiscent of last night.

A 4-0 hammering from AC Milan in the first leg of their last 16 tie at the San Siro left Arsenal reeling.

Few believed they could turn it around at home, but Laurent Koscielny scored after 7 minutes before Tomas Rosicky almost lifted the roof off with a strike mid-way through the second half.

When Robin van Persie scored from the spot, Arsenal were dreaming of the most remarkable comeback. Alas, they just fell short.

Inter Milan v Tottenham, 2010

History has a funny way of being remembered. Gareth Bale's remarkable hat-trick in the San Siro is engrained in the memory of millions, while the fact Tottenham almost pulled of a sensational comeback has been consigned to nothing more than a footnote.

Tottenham's maiden Champions League campaign looked to be going sour as they went 4-0 down against Inter Milan. Outclassed, Spurs seemed to be struggling on the grandest stage. Step forward Gareth Bale.

The Welsh winger scored a simply brilliant hat-trick, hauling his side back into the game before running out of time to pull off the comeback.

Chelsea v Barcelona

No one much fancied Chelsea to go through to the final of the Champions League in 2009 with Barcelona standing in their way - but that was the position they found themselves in with minutes to go.

A 0-0 draw in the first leg at the Camp Nou had left the tie on a knife-edge, but Michael Essien put his side in control with a stunning strike after 9 minutes at Stamford Bridge.

Things got even sweeter for the Blues as Eric Abidal was sent off in the second half. Even with referee Tom Henning Øvrebø waving away numerous penalty appeals from the home side they still looked destined to make the final for a second straight season.

Sadly, the greatest near-miss of them all was soon to occur as Andres Iniesta hammered home a last-minute winner to stun the Stamford Bridge crowd.

Manchester United v Real Madrid

When Manchester United and Real Madrid met in the Champions League last week, it was inevitable their 2003 clash would be the focus of much of the pre-game talk.

Manchester United had last the first leg 3-1 at the Bernabeu 10 years ago, while the build up to the second leg surrounded boss Sir Alex Ferguson and his crumbling relationship with David Beckham.

The England midfielder would start the game on the bench, and things turned from bad to worse as Ronaldo made it 4-1 on aggregate after just 12 minutes. United were dead and buried. Even when Ruud van Nistelrooy levelled the scores on the night, the Brazilian scored again not long into the second half.

The Red Devils had a flicker of hope as Ivan Helguera put the ball into his own net, but Ronaldo struck once again to bag his hat-trick. With the tie seemingly over, Beckham entered the fray and tried to haul his side back into the game. And he almost succeeded.

'Goldenballs" scored twice within the space of 22 minutes of coming on, making the score 4-3 on the night 6-5 on aggregate. United had done all they could, but couldn't quite pull of a historic comeback.

Liverpool v Zenit St. Petersburg

You only have to cast your mind back to a few weeks ago for this one; Liverpool came so close to pulling off a brilliant comeback but just fell short.

Another case of a heavy first leg defeat before a stirring comeback in the second game, Liverpool went 2-0 down in Russia, a result which oddly prompted Reds boss Brendan Rodgers to hail his side's efforts as 'perfect'.

Inspired by Luis Suarez, Liverpool did all they could to get back into the tie and secure a place in the last-16, and even after an early goal from Hulk, it looked like they could pull off the improbable.

Two goals from Suarez either side of a Joe Allen effort pulled Liverpool level on aggregate, but they just couldn't quite get the extra goal they needed.

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Tottenham Hotspur
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