We get the most dramatic climax, the most deafening roar from the crowd and the most hearts broken in a stadium when a late fight-back changes the expected result.
And when these moments happen on the biggest stage, they are magnified tenfold. We’re hoping for a Champions League comeback of a different kind as we await news from UEFA as to any scheduled resumption of Europe’s premier competition. But in the meantime, let’s take a look at three of the greatest turnarounds in Champions League history.
Atleti’s stunning comeback to beat Liverpool was one of the big Champions League 2020 results so far this season, but there have been even higher dramas in times gone by.
Barcelona 6-1 (6-5 on agg.) Paris Saint-Germain (2017)
For the biggest ever comeback in Champions League history we only have to look back three years and head to the Camp Nou, where Barcelona were all but out of the competition with two minutes left on the clock. They arrived in Catalonia with a huge deficit have taken a 4-0 beating by a ruthless Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.
Luis Suarez gave Barca a glimmer of hope with a clever header and, after Layvin Kurzawa had put through his own net, a Messi penalty early in the second half prompted bedlam in the Camp Nou. The home fans went quiet when Edinson Cavani smashed home a fifth goal for the Parisiens; but Barca laid siege to the visitors’ goal and a brace from Neymar, followed by a 95th-minute Sergi Roberto strike sent the Catalans into dreamland.
Liverpool 4-0 (4-3 on agg.) Barcelona (2019)
If we can get this season’s campaign on again the Champions League 2020 picks here at SBOTOP will place the Blaugrana alongside Manchester City as the tournament favourites. But last season’s semi-final will serve as a warning to Barca that things can also go disastrously wrong.
Heading to Anfield with a three-goal advantage, thanks to yet another master class from Messi and Suarez, and with Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino absent from the Reds’ line-up, Barcelona were expected to coast through to the final. But the Liverpool crowd never gives up hope and the Kop roared when Divock Origi scored after just seven minutes. The momentum was with Jurgen Klopp’s side and a quick-fire double by midfield ace Gini Wijnaldum put them level with over half an hour to go.
And it was Origi again who sparked wild celebration in the Merseyside crowd when he doubled his own tally ten minutes from time. It was a reminder for Liverpool fans of some famous European nights, none more so than a 2005 clash with AC Milan. The Reds pulled off one of the best Champions League final comebacks of all time, but there was one final climax which eclipsed even that great night in Istanbul.
Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich (1999)
Current Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer describes the 1999 Champions League final as the ‘best night of his life’ after he scored a dramatic winner against Bayern deep into injury time. Alex Ferguson’s side was aiming for a historic treble, having already won the Premier League and the FA Cup, and he had four top-class strikers to call on. Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke’s goals had fired United to domestic glory, but in the Champions League final it was the turn of Teddy Sheringham and OGS.
The Red Devils had already beaten Inter Milan and Juventus on the way to the final at the Camp Nou, but when Mario Basler gave the Germans an early lead they were up against it. Bayern dominated for long periods and hit the woodwork twice as they searched for the killer blow, but it didn’t come. And when Sheringham slid the ball past Oliver Kahn in injury time the tide turned both rapidly and devastatingly for Bayern.
Manchester United won a corner and their fans raised the roof. David Beckham swung the dead ball kick into the danger area and Sheringham rose highest to head towards goal, and there was the baby-faced assassin to stick out a book and divert the ball into the roof of the net.
It was a night United fans reminisce about at the slightest opportunity and who can blame them? But it was a two-minute blitz the Bundesliga giants would rather forget.
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