With all Europa League games, bar the final, effectively played over two legs, cynics could suggest upsets and shocks are far more likely.
For example, last November the champions of Kazakhstan, Astana, defeated the mighty Manchester United.
Yet without appearing to play down the minnows’ achievement, they were playing a very young United which rested virtually all its stars with qualification to the group stages long assured.
Likewise, there may be a shock in one leg of a tie but it’s only after both legs that the result really counts.
A prime example of that was Rennes defeating Arsenal 3-1 just over a year ago.
It was only half-time after the first 90 minutes and the Premier League side won the second leg 3-0 to progress.
So, matches like those above can hardly be classed as a full-blown upset.
However, I have plumped for five games which really have defied the SBOTOP picks in recent years and made for Europa League highlights and stories to tell the ages.
Who knows, perhaps there will be another upset or two before we know who will succeed holders Chelsea as this season’s winners.
- Fulham 4-1 Juventus (Agg 5-4, March 2010)
Fulham remain the only English club to have reached the final after entering the competition prior to the group stage. Under Roy Hodgson, the Cottagers went all the way to the showpiece after mounting one of the greatest comebacks ever.
They had gone down to a 3-1 defeat in the first leg of their last 16 tie in Turin and all hope seemed gone when David Trezeguet gave Juve an early lead in the second leg at Craven Cottage.
However, the tide soon turned, with Bobby Zamora equalising before Fabio Cannavaro saw red to make Fulham’s still-mountainous task slightly easier.
Zoltan Gera then netted twice either side of half-time to level the tie before American star Clint Dempsey grabbed an unforgettable winner eight minutes from time.
After that, the buoyed west Londoners went all the way to the final where they were narrowly beaten by Atletico Madrid, but the memories will live forever for Fulham fans.
- Rubin Kazan 0-1 Atletico Madrid (Agg 2-1, February 2013)
Even after a shock first-leg defeat, Atletico Madrid were still expected to pull the tie back against the Russian outfit Rubin Kazan.
After all, this was holders Atletico who had made the competition their own, winning it twice in the previous three years.
First leg goals from Gokdeniz Karadeniz and Pablo Orbaizsealed victory for the 10-men from Russia and, despite RadamelFalcao scoring in the second leg, Atletico were kept out from adding a tie-levelling second.
Kazan also finished this leg with 10 men but that didn’t stop them pulling one of the great shocks.
- Ludogorets Razgrad 3-3 Lazio (Agg 4-3, February 2014)
Bulgarian clubs were firmly on the proverbial map of Europe after this amazing showing from Ludogorets.
Yes, they were the Bulgarian champions.
Yes, they had actually won the first leg in Rome with Roman Bezjak’s match-winning strike silencing the Stadio Olimpico, a match which saw two red cards and two missed penalties.
Yet once Lazio had burst into a 2-0 lead in the second leg, it seemed the tie would go the way of the Italians.
Somehow, the Bulgarians not only repelled wave after wave of pressure but managed to fight back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to claim a draw with JuninhoQuixada’s equaliser two minutes from time sparking home scenes of jubilation.
- Red Bull Salzburg 4-1 Lazio (Agg 6-5, April 2018)
A quarter-final which seemed in Lazio’s grasp after they won the first leg 4-2.
Austrian side Salzburg had already knocked out Borussia Dortmund but few expected lightning to strike twice.
That feeling only strengthened when Ciro Immobile broke the deadlock on 55 minutes of the second leg to put the Italians 5-2 up on aggregate.
What followed was one of the finest displays of determination ever witnessed.
MoanesDabourquickly equalised but there was still 18 minutes remaining and Salzburg needed three more.
Not a problem – they only needed five minutes to score three times!
FirstMassadioHaidarahit a long-range special, then Hwang Hee-chan fired home and the last word went to Stefan Laineras Lazio were left reeling.
The Austrians bowed out in the semi-finals to Marseille but they preserved an unbeaten home record in the competition that season, including this never-to-be-forgotten comeback.
- Spurs 2-2 Gent (Agg 2-3, February 2017)
After finishing third in the Premier League the season before, Spurs were classed as one of the firm favourites to win the competition in 2017.
Drawn against unfancied Gent in the first knockout round, even a 1-0 first leg defeat didn’t alter the view of the majority they would cruise through the second leg.
Christian Eriksen’s tenth-minute opener gave them an ideal start but then things started to go awry.
First Harry Kane put through his own net and then Dele Alli saw red.
Although Victor Wanyama restored their lead, Genk netted again to seal a famous 2-2 draw at Wembley and a 3-2 aggregate triumph.
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