Chelsea next on the list? The 5 Greatest Champions League 2nd leg comebacks
The Champions League is of course set to return to our screens this week, as a host of the continent’s finest eye a spot in the competition’s final-4.
One such club in need of a minor miracle to keep their hopes of fresh European glory alive, though, come in the form of Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel’s troops, the current Champions League holders, are set to make the daunting trip to the Bernabeu to face Real Madrid on Tuesday night, in the knowledge that they will need to overturn a two-goal first leg deficit to advance.
This comes owing to a Karim Benzema masterclass at Stamford Bridge last time out leaving the Blues in a 3-1 hole.
– 2019/20: 5️⃣ goals
– 2020/21: 6️⃣ goals
After back-to-back hat-tricks, Karim Benzema now has as many #UCL goals this season as he scored in the previous two combined! 😳
The Frenchman might just be the most in-form striker on the planet right now! 🤩pic.twitter.com/6GO1YOyBdA
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 11, 2022
So, ahead of what should prove a pulsating night of football in the Spanish capital, we at 101 have today delved into some of the greatest 2nd leg comebacks in the history of the Champions League, and picked out five of what we feel proved the very best:
Liverpool vs Barcelona – Semi-finals 2018/19
First leg: Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool
Second leg: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona
”Corner taken quickly… ORIGIIII!!!”
A night which etched the name of the often underappreciated Divock Origi into Liverpool folklore, and, more importantly, set Jurgen Klopp’s men on their way to a first Champions League crown for 14 years.
After heading into the return leg of their semi-final showdown with Spanish heavyweights Barcelona three goals down on the back of some late Lionel Messi magic at the Camp Nou, Liverpool, altogether unsurprisingly, were widely written off by fans and pundits alike.
On a European night at Anfield, though, a glimmer of hope always remains…
The Reds, in turn, went on to shock the masses, emerging on the right side of a 4-0 scoreline owing to doubles on the part of both the aforementioned Origi, and Georginio Wijnaldum, to send Messi and co. packing from the competition.
Deportivo La Coruna vs AC Milan – Quarter-finals 2003/04
First leg: AC Milan 4-1 Deportivo
Second leg: Deportivo 4-0 AC Milan
The earliest entry on our list when it comes to the date it was managed upon, Deportivo La Coruna’s own four-goal comeback against the great AC Milan side of the early 2000s remains one of the Champions League’s greatest ever upsets.
Depor, already defying the odds in advancing as far as the quarter-finals, looked as good as done after slipping to a 4-1 first-leg defeat at the San Siro.
After a Rossoneri outfit boasting the talents of the likes of Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Kaka took their foot firmly off the gas, though, the underdogs took advantage in the most spectacular fashion imaginable.
Four goals without reply inside the evening’s first 75 minutes proved enough to see Deportivo march on, before ultimately being pipped to a spot in the competition’s showpiece by Jose Mourinho’s Porto.
⚪️🔵 Deportivo record one of the greatest comebacks in #UCL history #OTD in 2004…
😱 AC Milan 4-1 Deportivo (Agg: 4-1)
🤯 Deportivo 4-0 AC Milan (Agg: 5-4)#OnThisDay | @RCDeportivo pic.twitter.com/VQfw2EbmTI
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 7, 2020
Roma vs Barcelona – Quarter-finals 2017/18
First leg: Barcelona 4-1 Roma
Second leg: Roma 3-0 Barcelona
Barcelona’s 2nd appearance on our list, and unfortunately for the Blaugrana, another which no doubt still brings about the occasional nightmare on the part of the club’s supporters.
A quarter-final meeting with Serie A outfit AS Roma during the 2017/18 campaign saw the Catalans, as expected, race out into a comfortable first leg lead, ensuring that they made the trip to the Stadio Olimpico a week later with one foot firmly in the final-4.
Arrogance, a weak collective mentality, a lack of respect for their opponents – put it down to whatever you like, but the fact of the matter was that Barca, once more, simply failed to get the job done.
Goals on the part of Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas made for a historic night for all associated with Roma, amid jubilant celebrations across the Italian capital.
Chelsea vs Napoli – Last-16 2011/12
First leg: Napoli 3-1 Chelsea
Second leg: Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (AET)
Perhaps the toughest call on our list, a number of candidates were considered before 101 ultimately decided upon Chelsea’s ousting of Napoli during the 2011/12 campaign.
The talking points surrounding the Blues’ comeback proved near unrivalled, with the 2nd leg result having come swiftly on the back of a change on the bench at Stamford Bridge, as Roberto Di Matteo was handed the reins on an interim basis, following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas.
The former, in turn, quickly reinstated the likes of Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard to starting duties, culminating in proceedings in west London being forced to extra time owing to goals from iconic trio Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba.
Branislav Ivanovic then completed the turnaround with a full 105 minutes on the clock, booking Chelsea’s quarter-final berth at Napoli’s expense.
Not only that, but the result proved the springboard for the Pensioners to march all the way to a first-ever Champions League title three months later.
Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain – Last-16 2016/17
First leg: PSG 4-0 Barcelona
Second leg: Barcelona 6-1 PSG
As the old age old age goes… Always save the best for last.
Barcelona’s third and final appearance on our list finally sees the Catalan giants on the right side of the result, owing to a night which has since been aptly coined as ‘La Remontada’ (THE comeback).
After Paris Saint-Germain emerged from the French capital in possession of a four-goal advantage, the Ligue 1 heavyweights’ advancement to the tournament’s quarter-final stage was labelled a foregone conclusion.
Some even went as far as to suggest that Barca, as a collective, were ‘finished’, en route to surrendering their La Liga crown to arch rivals Real Madrid, too.
The Blaugrana themselves, though, under the watch of Luis Enrique, always appeared to believe… And for, as it turned out, very good reason.
Luis Suarez’s finish inside three minutes proved a sign of things to come at the Camp Nou, as the hosts, backed by a raucous crowd, ran riot on their way to an eventual 6-1 win.
Sergi Roberto acted as match-winner, sliding home a deft finish five minutes into injury time, but it was Neymar who proved the true inspiration for the result, notching a late brace before teeing up Barca’s decisive sixth.
Most importantly, the result marks the only occasion on which a club has ever fought back from a four-goal first leg hole to emerge victorious from a Champions League tie.
Honourable mention: Tottenham vs Ajax – Spurs’ historic semi-final triumph in the 2018/19 campaign only misses out owing to the fact that Mauricio Pochettino’s men actually headed into the return leg in Amsterdam just a solitary goal down. Firmly in the conversation for the greatest-ever Champions League comeback, but doesn’t quite fit the criteria here.
The same can be said for Ajax’s own turnaround in the season’s round-of-16 at Real Madrid, as the Dutch heavyweights recovered from a 2-1 first leg deficit to run riot at the Bernabeu, sending Real Madrid packing courtesy of a dominant 4-1 triumph.
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