11 Greatest Champions League Comebacks of All Time

Tottenham and Liverpool both left the football fans gasping in disbelief as they defied all odds to set up an all-English Champions League final.

The Jurgen Klopp men fought back from a 3-0 first-leg deficit to defeat tournament favorites Barcelona at Anfield.

A day later, Lucas Moura’s hattrick, which included the 96th minute winner, saw Tottenham come back from 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate to seal a place in the final.

Champions League is one of the most prestigious club competition and often times, teams deliver remarkable performances to defy all odds.

Here are the greatest ever Champions League comebacks:

Note: Only the games where a team has trailed by 2 or more goals has been considered as a comeback.

1) 2004-05 Final: That Night in Istanbul

AC Milan 3 – 3 Liverpool: Liverpool win 3 – 2 on penalties.

Liverpool players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2004-05 Champions League final on penalties against AC Milan in Istanbul.

While all other matches happened over two legs, the Reds managed to secure the greatest comeback of all time in the final of 2004-05 Champions League.

AC Milan’s captain Paolo Maldini grabbed the first-minute lead before Hernan Crespo scored twice to put Milan 3-0 up at half-time.

The game was done and dusted but six mad minutes after the break saw Liverpool score thrice; Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso were the goal scorers.

Liverpool eventually won on penalties.

2) 2018-2019 SF: Liverpool Stuns Barcelona at Anfield

Aggregate: 4 – 3: Barcelona 3 – 0 Liverpool / Liverpool 4 – 0 Barcelona.

Divock Origi and Georginho Wijnaldum scored a brace each to help Liverpool secure a place in 2019 Champions League final.

Lionel Messi scored twice to put Liverpool’s hopes for a second successive Champions League final in doubt. With Mohammad Salah and Roberto Firminho ruled out for the 2nd leg, even the most optimistic Reds fans did not have high hopes.

Divock Origi gave Liverpool some hope early on in the game. With 1-0 at half-time, it was smooth sailing for Barcelona who remained unable to take their chances.

Luis Suarez injured Andy Robertson who was replaced by Georginho Wijnaldum, which proved to be the turning point. The Dutch scored two goals in 122 seconds to ensure a nervous finish.

Origi stepped up once again to score the winning goal from a cheeky corner taken by Trent Alex-Arnold.

3) 1998-1999 SF: Manchester United Break Hearts in Italy

Aggregate 4 – 3: Man Utd 1 – 1 Juventus / Juventus 2 – 3 Man Utd.

Manchester United scored three away goals to secure a famous away win, which helped them reach the final against Bayern Munich as well.

Manchester United were destined to complete their treble in 1999. With 1-1 aggregate score from the first leg, the Red Devils went 2-0 down in the away leg.

However, a comeback was on the cards after Roy Keane and Dwight Yorke leveled the score before half-time.

The only goal in the second-half came from Andy Cole in the 84th minute of the game, which proved to be the winner.

4) 2018-19 SF: Lucas Moura’s Last Second Goal

Aggregate: 3 – 3: Tottenham 0 – 1 Ajax / Ajax 2 – 3 Tottenham. Tottenham win on away goals.

Lucas Moura’s hattrick sealed the victory for Tottenham and a place in Champions League final for the first time in their history.

For the first time in the history of Tottenham, they have reached the promise land; final of the Champions League.

Trailing 1-0 from the first-leg, Mauricio Pochettinho traveled with his team to Netherlands without Harry Kane.

Ajax, who had already knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus, lead 3-0 on aggregate after 35 minutes into the game.

A brace from Lucas Moura gave the London team some hope. The Brazilian completed his hattrick in the most dramatic manner, by scoring in the last seconds of the game.

His third goal helped Tottenham to an away goal victory.

5) 2016-17 Last 16: Barcelona Shatter PSG

Aggregate 6 – 5: PSG 4 – 0 Barcelona / Barcelona 6 – 1 PSG.

Sergi Roberto scored a late goal to knock PSG out of 2016-17 Champions League.

Barcelona’s resilient display against PSG was the only time any side had overturned a 4-goal aggregate lead in the Champions League history.

Angel di Maria scored two with Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani grabbing a goal each in the first-leg. It left Barcelona with a daunting task of scoring 5 goals while also maintaining a clean sheet in the return leg.

Barcelona led 3-0 after 50 minutes before Cavani scored a vital goal, which seemingly made the task impossible.

In the most incredible finale, Neymar scored in the 88th and 91st minute to set a grand slam finish. Sergi Roberto, from a set piece, scored the sixth Barcelona goal in the 95th minute to secure a historic win.

6) 2018-19 Last 16: Late VAR Drama Secures Manchester United a Win

Aggregate 3 – 3: Man Utd 0 – 2 PSG / PSG 1 – 3 Man Utd. Man Utd win on away goals.

A controversial penalty after VAR intervention helped Manchester United to an unlikely victory.

Manchester United were with 10 wins out of 11 games since Ole Gunner Solksjaer took over as caretaker manager.

Goals from Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe left United with a daunting task of overturning a two-goal deficit against a quality PSG side.

United had to face PSG in the return leg without rampant Paul Pogba, who had been sent off for 2 yellow cards.

Deep in the injury time, United led 2-1 on the night with a brace from Romelu Lukaku. However, the tie was turned on its head when Diogo Dalot’s shot hit Presnel Kimpembe’s arm from a short range.

After consulting VAR, the Slovenian referee Damir Skomina awarded United a controversial penalty which was converted by Marcus Rashford.

Manchester United won the game on away goals.

7) 2017-18 QF: Roma’s Thrilling Victory Over Barcelona

Aggregate 4 – 4: Barcelona 4 – 1 Roma / Roma 3 – 0 Barcelona. Roma win on away goals.

Roma reached the semi-finals of Europe’s premier competition for the first since since 1984.

Barcelona looked to have secured the semi-final place with goals from Gerard Pique, Luis Suarez and two own goals from Daniele de Rossi and Kostas Manolas in the first-leg at Nou Camp.

The former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko scored in the 6th minute to give hope to AS Roma.

Poetic justice was served when Daniele de Rossi and Kostas Manolas, who both scored an own goal in 1st leg, scored the equalizing and winning goal respectively.

For Roma, the dream did not last for long as they were beaten 5-2 at Anfield by Liverpool and 7-6 on aggregate.

8) 2011-12 Last 16: Chelsea Refuse to Bow Out

Aggregate 5 – 4: Napoli 3 – 1 Chelsea / Chelsea 4 – 1 Napoli (AET).

Chelsea overturned a three-goal first-leg deficit against Napoli en route to winning their only Champions League.

Chelsea were overwhelmed in the first-leg where Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani helped Napoli to a 3-1 victory.

Two weeks after the Napoli game, Andres Villas-Boas was sacked and Roberto di Matteo was appointed as interim manager.

The appointment had a positive impact on the players and likes of Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard were all back in the side for the 2nd leg.

Chelsea scored the winning goal in extra-time through Branislav Ivanovic. This victory helped Chelsea build momentum to lift their first-ever Champions League trophy.

9) 2003-04 QF: Champions AC Milan Crumble in Spain

Aggregate 5 – 4: AC Milan 4 – 1 Deportivo / Deportivo 4 – 0 AC Milan.

Nesta looks baffled after their 4-0 quarter-final defeat by Deportivo la Coruna in the 2003-04 Champions League.

The Spaniards, trailing 4-1 from the first leg of their quarter-final, stunned an erratic Milan with a whirlwind performance that saw them take a 3-0 lead by the interval.

The substitute and club captain Fran put Deportivo well and truly clear with his volley 14 minutes from time to give Galicians a remarkable 5-4 aggregate victory.

This was the first time a team had ever recovered from a three-goal first-leg deficit to win in the 12 year history of the Champions League. This was even more impressive especially considering Milan had not conceded a single European goal away that season.

Deportivo met Porto in the semi-finals.

10) 1999-2000 QF: Extra Time Goals Knock Chelsea Out in Barcelona

Aggregate 6 – 4: Chelsea 3 – 1 Barcelona / Barcelona 5 – 1 Chelsea.

Barcelona players celebrate after scoring a decisive goal which contributed to the 5-1 scoreline on the night, knocking Chelsea out.

Chelsea fans were in dreamland witnessing three goals in 8 minutes in the first-leg. The Blues ended the game with 3-1 lead, hoping to register another historic win over Barcelona.

The Catalans, however, had other plans. Extra-time goals from Rivaldo and Patrick Kluivert in the second-leg crushed the dreams of all Chelsea fans.

Barcelona faced Valencia in the semi-finals but lost.

11) 2018/19 Last 16: Ronaldo Guides Juventus to Victory

Aggregate 3 – 2: Atletico Madrid 2 – 0 Juventus / Juventus 3 – 0 Athletic Madrid.

Ronaldo scored all three goals on the night to complete one of the finest comebacks in the history of the competition.

Often times, Cristiano Ronaldo has been the savior for his team. After a 2-0 defeat against Athletico Madrid, Juventus had a huge task on their hands.

Ronaldo delivered a commanding performance, scoring all three goals, alongside the rest of the Juventus team.

Additionally, the Italians conceded 0 shots on target in the second-leg, which is why it is considered to be one of the finest defensive displays as well.

Sports Analyst & Head of Sports Desk.

  • none better than the top two of Liverpool’s, given the nature of the matches, Final and SF and that too against tougher oppositions

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