As enthralling as Manchester City’s dominance in Premier League has been this season, the Champions League has so far proved to be fertile ground for all English teams involved. We still have a few months to wait until Europe’s premier competition kicks off again, that hasn’t, however, stopped us from providing a list of the craziest Champions League comebacks. Even the bravest punter would think twice before putting money on these turnarounds at Freebets.org.
Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid (5-5 on aggregate) – Quarter Final – Apr 6, 2004
With the relentless wealth that the tiny principality exudes, it’s very difficult to see Monaco as anything close to plucky underdogs. It was however difficult not to get behind the 2004 side and their superb run to the Champions League final.
Before seeing off Chelsea in the semi (and then meeting their eventual demise by a Mourinho manages Porto) came the small matter of a Galactico filled Real Madrid. To add narrative, the French side featured the superb Fernando Morientes, on loan from Los Blancos.
After harshly being relegated to the bench thanks to Ronaldo and co after many successful years at the Bernabeu, you could be sure that the Spaniard was desperate to settle some scores.
The first leg didn’t exactly go to plan for Didier Deschamps’ side, with Madrid coming away with a precious 4-2 victory in front of a typically expectant home crowd, they did however snatch two invaluable away goals to add spice to the next meeting.
As the 2nd leg slowly got into its stride 36th minute Raul goal gave the visitors a 5-2 aggregate lead.
Monaco’s Champions League run, as impressive as it had been as far, looked to be coming to an abrupt end.
Suddenly a low Ludovic Giuly volley made it 1-1 just before half time to add pressure to a previously self assured Madrid. Morientes then made it 2-1 just the other side of the half with a well placed header, before Giuly, cleverly back-heeling past Iker Casillas 24 minutes from time, sent the side into dizzying hysterics.
With the aggregate score locked at 5-5, Raul had a glorious opportunity to put his team back in control after being put through by Roberto Carlos, however, with Monaco hearts very much in mouths, he was off target.
Sitting pretty at 3-1 the home side stood firm and held on for a famous away goal victory.
Juventus 2-3 Manchester United (3-4 on aggregate) – Semi Final – Apr 21, 1999
Post Liverpool and Nottingham Forest’s 80’s European Cup dominance, In it’s new format, Champions League success somehow became unchartered territory for English clubs during the mid 90’s.
With the English game perhaps looked down upon by the great sides of the time such as Milan, Real Madrid and even Ajax at the time, Manchester United were truly making waves with their own brand of scintillating Premier League inspired attacking football come the millennium.
After storming their way through the group stages, before seeing off Inter in a hotly contested quarter final, came the challenge of a Juventus side including in its ranks Zidane, David’s and the devastatingly lethal Fillipo Inzaghi.
A 1-1 Old Trafford first leg draw meant that Alex Ferguson’s side had to score at the Stadio Delle Alpi, a win or at least a draw with two goals would be enough to send the side to a Camp Nou final.
Things got off to a nightmare start as Filippo Inzaghi, the man who Johan Cruyff described as being ‘born offside’, scored a quick fire brace.
It got even worse for the eventual competition winners as, as if the God’s were against him (or because he just lost his temper), captain Roy Keane received a booking. Knowing his punishment would mean he couldn’t feature in the final, the Irishman puffed out his chest and turned in a midfield performance of epic proportions.
It was Keane himself who dragged his side back into the tie with a superbly placed header before Dwight Yorke grabbed an equaliser, making the match all square at 2-2 (3-3 on agg) with United in-front on away goals.
By the time Andy Cole had rounded Angelo Peruzzi to make it three late on, Juve were already beaten men.
Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (5-4 on aggregate) – Quarter-Final – Apr 8, 2004
Of all our entries on the list, the match that surely featured the most extraordinary of collapses has to be the original Champions League hipsters choice, Deportivo La Coruna’s, magnificent turnaround against Italian giants AC Milan. A result that STILL ranks as the only time a club has overturned a 3 goal deficit in a Champions League second leg knockout tie.
After taking an absolute pummelling at the San Siro 4-1 in the opening leg, Deportivo summoned an almighty level of spirit to find 3 goals in the first half of the return trip, courtesy of Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and a fierce drive from Albert Luque.
It’s fair to say Carlo Ancelloti’s Milan were shell shocked at half time. With the Spanish sides morale high, it was only a matter of time before things got even worse, substitute and club captain Fran finding the fourth 15 minutes from time to put his side through 5-4 on aggregate.
Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (5-4 on aggregate) – Last 16 – Feb 21, 2012
Chelsea’s 2012 European Cup win, whilst undoubtedly glorious for Blues fans, was seemingly as bizarre as it was unlikely. In a true example of spirit against skill, Chelsea eventually lifted the cup after triumphing over a vastly dominant Bayern Munich side.
The match that installed that vital team spirit however, would be their previous last 16 tie against Napoli. The first leg was something of a damp squib with a Napoli side, featuring a superb Edison Cavani, outplaying their English guests to win 3-1. The performance was deemed so bad it was the last time unpopular manager Andre Villas-Boas would lead the Chelsea side.
With their former manager out of the way, the Blues reverted back to tried and tested ways. Chelsea romped to a 3-1 lead in the second leg with Didier Drogba and John Terry finding the net before a Frank Lampard penalty in the 75th minute made it 4-4 on aggregate.
With the tie in the balance, Branislav Ivanovic sent to the ball into the roof of the Napoli net to complete an unlikely comeback late in extra time
Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (6-4 on aggregate) – Quarter-Final – Apr 18, 2000
After a fine 3-1 home victory, Gianluca Vialli’s Chelsea faced a Barca side bursting with such talent as Rivaldo, Figo and Guardiola. After a rocky start in which the Catalan stomped into a 2-0 lead, the visitors clawed back a goal through Norwegian fan favourite Tore Andre Flo.
In the end it was only to give the Blues false hope as a brutally efficient Barca side came out 5-1 winners after extra time.