Our series on the greatest ever UEFA Champions League (UCL) comebacks concludes with a countdown of the four most incredible of all-time!
4. Roma 3-0 FC Barcelona (agg. 4-4, Roma win on away goals), 2018
At 4-1 down going into their home tie of this quarter-final, Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco had one piece of advice for his players: don’t concede. It was Džeko, who’d given Roma the gift of an away goal which broke the deadlock again. Now it was game on.
After Daniele De Rossi smashed his penalty into the back of the net to give Roma a second, Barcelona threatened through Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. But time continued to march on and so did Roma, and in the 82nd minute, the Stadio Olimpico erupted following a headed goal from Kostas Manolas.
3. Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (agg. 3-5), 2019
Spanish giants Real Madrid beating Ajax 2-1 in Amsterdam came as no great surprise, as their reign over European football looked like extending itself even further.
The idea of Real capitulating and conceding twice at the Bernabeu seemed almost impossible, but they were stunned by a masterclass from this fearless young Ajax side. A scintillating performance from the visitors saw them hammer home three goals in just over an hour, severely denting the hopes of the then-European champions.
A 70th-minute strike from Marco Asensio sparked a brief revival for the home side, but two minutes later the game was killed off following a magnificent free-kick from Lasse Schöne.
For the first time in four years, Real Madrid were knocked out of the UCL!
2. AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (Liverpool win 3-2 on penalties), 2005
Liverpool, a side whose years of dominating English and European football were a distant memory, faced the towering presence of Carlo Ancelotti’s AC Milan, who were heavy favourites to win this tie.
The Italians were on fire in the first half, and the Reds were lucky to just be 3-0 down at the break when a number of Liverpool fans chose to leave the stadium.
However, Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was not about to give up on his beloved club. The legendary midfielder threw Liverpool a lifeline with a 53-minute header, and only a minute later Vladimir Šmicer netted a second. Xabi Alonso then scored on the rebound from a penalty to level the scores!
Milan dominated extra-time, but Liverpool’s newfound spirit could not be broken. The Italians had a horror show in the penalty shoot-out, which gifted the trophy to the Reds. The goalkeeping heroics of Jerzy Dudek then won it for the English side, as he dramatically saved Andriy Shevchenko’s penalty.
1. FC Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (aggregate 6-5), 2017
When PSG stunned Barcelona with a 4-0 first-leg thrashing in 2017, many claimed it marked a symbolic change – the overturning of the historic, all-conquering Barcelona legends, in favour of football’s nouveau riche in the shape of PSG.
Yet from the moment Luis Suarez scored less than three minutes into the second leg, the comeback seemed possible. An own goal and a Lionel Messi penalty left the Spaniards needing just one goal. however, a 62nd-minute screamer from PSG’s Edinson Cavani was an unexpected complication in the narrative. The home side now needed to score three goals and not concede with less than 30 minutes remaining.
With 87 minutes on the clock, PSG’s place in the last eight seemed secure, only for it to be stolen by eight minutes of Barcelona brilliance. A Neymar free-kick, followed by a penalty, spurred life back into Camp Nou, and at 95 minutes the stadium erupted as Sergi Roberto’s volley took them through to the quarter-finals, winning 6-5 on aggregate!