Top 5 comebacks in history of UEFA Champions League

Chelsea came very close to staging a huge turnaround against Real Madrid, but lost the tie in extra-time. Here is a look at the greatest comebacks in the history of the Champions League.

 |  5-minute read |   13-04-2022
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After losing the first leg 1-3 at home to Real Madrid, defending champions Chelsea were almost out of UEFA Champions League, club football’s most coveted tournament.

But, as their coach Thomas Tuchel had said on the eve of the game,"We should not accept the result before it ends", Chelsea did exactly the same. They almost pulled off in what could have been arguably their greatest victory in Champions League. They won the game 3-2, but lost the quarter-final 4-5 on aggregate.

The English team got a dream start when Mason Mount opened the scoring in the 15th minute. They doubled their lead in the 51st minute, when defender Antonio Rudiger scored with a solid header off a corner by Mount. A goal from Marcos Alonso was disallowed by VAR in the 62nd minute, but German striker Timo Werner scored one in the 75th minute to give Chelsea 3-0 lead in the game and a 4-3 lead on aggregate.

The hosts levelled the score at 4-4 with 10 minutes left when Brazil’s Rodrygo scored from a brilliant cross by Luka Modric. Karim Benzema, who had scored a hattrick in the first leg, put one inside the nets in extra time to put Real Madrid through to the semis and end Chelsea's run in the tournament.

In the last few years, we have seen quite a few against-the-odds comebacks in Champions League knockout stages. Here we pick the top five:

5. Chelsea vs Napoli, last-16 (2011/12) - This was the year Chelsea won the Champions League trophy for the first time. And this was the match that kicked off their comeback in the tournament. After losing the first leg of the last 16 tie 1-3, away from home, Chelsea made a stunning comeback at home and won the game 4-1 after Branislav Ivanovic struck an extra-time winner.

After a disappointing first leg, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba put Chelsea in the driver's seat with the opening three goals. After going 2-0 down, Goekhan Inler's strike gave some relief to Napoli, but Lampard's penalty took the game to extra time, where Ivanovic's 105th minute goal took Chelsea to the quarter-finals

First leg: Napoli 3-1 Chelsea

Second leg: Chelsea 4-1 Napoli

Aggregate: Chelsea 5-4 Napoli

 

4. Roma vs Barcelona, 2017/18 quarter-finals - After getting a 1-4 thumping from Barcelona a week back, Roma overturned the first leg defeat with a 3-0 win over Barcelona and reached the Champions League semi-finals. Roma, looking for a miracle, made a quick start in the second leg, thanks to Edin Dzeko's clinical finish in the 6th minute.

They doubled their lead in the 58th minute when Daniele De Rossi scored from the penalty spot.

But it was Kostas Manolas 82nd minute strike that stunned Barcelona. The score was 4-4 on aggregate, but Roma advanced due to an away goal advantage.

RESULT

First leg: Barcelona 4-1 Roma

Second leg: Roma 3-0 Barcelona

Aggregate: (4-4)

 

3. Ajax vs Tottenham, 2018/19 semi-finals - This one could easily be ranked as Tottenham Hotspur's greatest victory ever. Spurs staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in Champions League history to reach their tournament final. 

After losing the first-leg 0-1 at home, the London club was trailing 2-0 in the second-leg too when Lucas Moura's second-half hat-trick sent Spurs into the European Cup final as coach Mauricio Pochettino was left in tears at the end of the match.

Tottenham and Ajax were levelled at 3-3 on aggregate, but Spurs advanced on one away goal advantage.

RESULT

First leg: Tottenham 0-1 Ajax

Second leg: Ajax 2-3

Aggregate: 3-3

 

2. Liverpool vs Barcelona, 2018/19 semi-finals - This semi-final tie was all about dominating at home, and Liverpool turned out to be one step, or one goal ahead in this. After losing the first leg 0-3 at Barcelona, Liverpool had a huge task ahead of overturning a three-goal deficit. 

Liverpool produced a comeback for the ages as they registered a 4-0 thumping victory thanks to two goals each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Liverpool went on to defeat Tottneham in an all-England Champions League final.

RESULT

First leg: Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool

Second leg: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona

Aggregate: Liverpool 4-3 Barcelona

 

1. Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain, 2016/17 round of 16: Of all the comebacks in the tournament's history, this one is regarded as arguably the greatest, because Barcelona became the first team to fight back from four goals down to win a Champions League tie. 

Barcelona's shock 0-4 loss at Paris was being seen as one of the biggest upsets in European history, but what Luis Enrique's men achieved in the second leg was no less than a miracle.

It was a time when Barcelona had a strike force consisting of Messi, Neymar and Suarez. So, a 0-4 loss was humiliating for the Spanish side.

Barcelona started attacking from the get go in the 2nd leg, and scored 3 goals in the first 50 minutes. Cavani scored one for PSG but couldn't stop Barca's goalfest. Neymar scored in the 88th and 91st minute before Sergi Roberto's 95th-minute winner produced one of the most incredible results of all time.

 RESULT

First leg: Paris Saint-Germain 4-0 Barcelona

Second leg: Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain

Writer

Vivek Mishra Vivek Mishra @vvk29

Vivek likes to follow politics, international affairs, sports and technology. He is currently an Assistant Editor at DailyO.

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