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Champions League’s Biggest Upsets

We love underdogs, and the Champions League has thrown up plenty of shock results over the past two decades, so the team here at SBOTOP have picked out five of the best.

 

Mourinho’s Porto conquers Europe 2004

A little known Jose Mourinho guided Porto to the 2004 Champions League title to stun the football world and hail him as a special manager. Those days may seem a distant memory to Jose now, having just watched his Spurs side dumped out of the 2020 Champions League Round of 16 by Red Bull Leipzig.

But back in the day, and against all odds, he followed up Porto’s 2003 UEFA Cup triumph with the biggest prize in Europe. The Portuguese side had already beaten Deportivo La Coruna, Lyon and Manchester United before they encountered Monaco in the final in Gelsenkirchen, and there they swept aside the French team with a 3-0 victory.

The campaign was a glimpse of what was to come from Mourinho, his side included two defenders, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira, who he took to Chelsea, and the midfield genius of Deco who went on to Barcelona the following season.

Porto had a decent forward line but their strength was undoubtedly in their organisation and solidity.

 

Liverpool’s second-half fightback in the 2005 final

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (Liverpool win 3-2 on Penalties)

Rafa Benitez became an Anfield legend in 2005 when he guided the Reds to a Champions League title which looked almost impossible at half time in the Istanbul final. Milan had taken a firm grip on the cup with a 3-0 lead, thanks to a Paulo Maldini volley and a brace from Hernan Crespo just before the break.

But, backed by thousands of Liverpool fans in a deafening atmosphere, the Reds came roaring back with three goals in six minutes. First Steven Gerrard scored with a looping header and then the Premier League side started to believe when Vladimir Smicr scored with a low skidding shot. Minutes later Gennaro Gattuso fouled Gerrard, and when Xabi Alonso’s spot-kick was saved he tapped in the rebound to spark bedlam in the stadium.

Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek was the hero of the penalty shootout, saving shots by the excellent Andrea Pirlo and the lethal Andriy Shevchenko.

The Reds are out of this year’s competition, falling to Atletico Madrid at the first knockout hurdle, but that famous night in Istanbul will forever remain in the memory.

Atletico Madrid progress to the Champions League quarter-finals after winning against Liverpool
Marcos Llorente celebrates after scoring Atletico Madrid’s second goal against Liverpool

 

Three of Europe’s aristocracy cut down to size

Brondby 2-1 Bayern Munich (1998)

Bayern Munich have been one of the giants of the Champions League since its inception and fully expected to beat Brondby when they arrived in Copenhagen, but they had one heck of a shock on Matchday one.

The Danes put up a good fight with a stout defence, but when Markus Babbel struck late in the game they looked dead and buried; but not so. Two goals in the 88th and 89th minutes, the second a brilliant effort from Allan Ravn, gave the Brondby fans a night they still talk about.

That was the last game they won in the 1998/9 competition as they went on to concede 18 goals, while Bayern were to suffer a similar fate in the final when Manchester United scored two late goals.

 

AS Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid (2004)

Los Blancos took a first-leg 4-2 lead to the principality of Monaco but were stunned by a second-half onslaught which fired the French team through to the semi-finals. Current Real boss Zinedine Zidane was in the favourite’s ranks and they were fully expected to go on and win the 2004 title.

Real went 5-2 up on aggregate, but a goal from Ludovic Giuly just before the break kept Monaco hopes alive. And when Fernando Morientes fired in a second against his old club that paved the way for Giuly to round off the comeback and send Monaco through.

Of course, Real Madrid have won plenty of European crowns since that humiliation, and the latest Champions League 2020 news and gossip, as we wait for a resumption in play, is a question of whether they can turn things around against Manchester City, after losing the first leg 1-2.

 

Celtic 2-1 Barcelona (2012)

In a raucous Celtic Park under the floodlights, Neil Lennon’s Celtic sent Barcelona packing, Lionel Messi and all. With a record low possession share of less than 17 per cent, the hoops stunned the Blaugrana thanks to an opener from Victor Wanyama and a second from Tom Watt.

Barca’s Andres Iniesta and Dani Alves dominated the ball, but they couldn’t find a way through the Celtic defence until Messi scored a late consolation.

The win helped the SPL side through to the Round of 16 where they were thumped 5-0 by Juventus, but the journey to get there was spectacular.

Back in the present, the latest Champions League 2020 picks hold the Blaugrana up as favourites to win it, alongside Manchester City, and I bet they’re pleased they don’t have to head to Glasgow again!

 

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