Sunday 17 December 2017

Can Arsenal turn the tide on Barcelona? A look at the 10 greatest Champions League comebacks

File photo dated 25-05-2005 of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard lifts the UEFA Champions League trophy. Phil Noble/PA Wire.
File photo dated 25-05-2005 of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard lifts the UEFA Champions League trophy. Phil Noble/PA Wire.

As Arsenal try and pull off a Champions League miracle in their last 16 second leg tie with Barcelona tonight, we offer some much-needed inspiration in the form of the best Champions League comebacks of all time. Will the Gunners be added to this list after tonight?

10. Werder Bremen 5-3 Anderlecht

December 8, 1993

Both Werder Bermen and Anderlecht failed to advance into the knockout stage in 1993, but they served up one of the most enthralling contests in Champions League history. The Belgian side raced into a 3-0 lead in the opening half-hour and that is how it remained until they spectacularly capitulated in the latter stages. Goals from Wynton Rufter, Rune Bratseth and Bernd Hobsch saw Bremen level dramatically, before Marco Bode completed the comeback. There was even time for Rufter to complete his brace at the end.

9. Chelsea 4-0 Napoli

March 14, 2012

Chelsea's 3-1 defeat away at Napoli gave them a mountain to climb at Stamford Bridge. However, goals from Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry drew the sides level before Branislav Ivanovic won the game for Roberto di Matteo's side in extra-time. Two months later they were crowned champions in Munich to complete one of the most unlikely European triumphs.

8. Barcelona 4-0 AC Milan

March 12, 2013

Barcelona made history, becoming the first side to overcome a  two-goal first-leg loss without the benefit of an away goal. A Lionel Messi double drew Barca level in the tie, before David Villa and Jordi Alba secured a record-breaking comeback win for the Catalans.

7. Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea

April 18, 2000

Proof that Louis van Gaal's sides can throw caution to the wind when they really need to. Chelsea had taken a 3-1 lead to the Nou Camp, but were blitzed by Van Gaal's Barcelona. A Rivaldo brace added to goals from Luis Figo, Patrick Kluivert and Dani Garcia and put the Catalans into the semi-final after extra time.

6. Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid

April 6, 2004

Fernando Morientes, deemed not good enough for Real's galacticos, came back to haunt his parent club in emphatic style. After Los Blancos had won the first leg at the Bernabeu 4-2, Raul's early goal in the second meant that Monaco had to score three. Ludovic Giuly scored twice, before a Fernando Morientes header knocked Real out on away goals.

It wasn't just the Champions League final which had Liverpool fans rubbing their eyes in disbelief in 2005. Rafael Benitez's team had to beat Olympiakos by two clear goals to make it out of their group. After going 1-0 down, all hope seemed lost but strikes from Neil Mellor, Florent Sinama-Pongolle and a late Steven Gerrard half-volley - "Take a bow, son" - saw Liverpool progress in the competition.

4. Juventus 2-3 Manchester United

April 21, 1999

A Fillipo Inzaghi brace in the opening 10 minutes gave Juventus the lead in this semi-final second leg before United captain Roy Keane took control, halving the deficit with a header. Dwight Yorke equalised for the United before strike partner Andy Cole sealed a miraculous 3-2 win. Keane's extraordinary performance - made all the more so by the fact he was booked, and knew he would be suspended for the final - has gone into legend at Old Trafford.

3. Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 Milan

April 7, 2004

Kaka's Deportivo demolition gave Milan a 4-1 advantage to take to the Riazor. But the Rossoneri were blown away in the second leg, and goals from Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valerón, Alberto Luque and Fran saw the Spanish side win 4-0 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate.

2. Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich

May 26, 1999

The most incredible injury-time period of all? An early Mario Basler free-kick had seen Manchester United trail for most of the game and there seemed no way back for Sir Alex Ferguson's team as the clock ticked into stoppage time. Then came Teddy Sheringham's close-range prod to draw the match level and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's smart finish from a corner and United had prised the trophy from Bayern's grasp. As Ferguson put it so eloquently in the aftermath: "Football, eh? Bloody hell."

1. Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan

May 25, 2005

The Miracle of Istanbul still takes the breath away 11 years on. Goals from Paolo Maldini and a brace from Hernan Crespo had put the Italians three goals up before half time and left Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, so rattled that his half-time team-talk involved him accidentally presenting a strategy that involved 12 players. But Steven Gerrard's header offered Liverpool some hope, before further goals from Xabi Alonso and Vladimir Smicer took the game to penalties. Liverpool went on to win the shoot-out after Jerzy Dudek saved Andriy Shevchenko's penalty and ensure Benitez - and his players - Merseyside immortality.

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