Seven great Champions League comebacks from the knockout phase

Published on: May 6, 2020
Author: Daniel Hubert
Champions League comebacks

It is a year to the day on Thursday that Liverpool stunned the world of football with one of the great Champions League comebacks.

Their 4-0 second leg victory over Barcelona at Anfield saw them come from 3-0 down on aggregate to win the tie.

The La Liga giants had one foot in the Madrid showpiece after the first leg at the Nou Camp, but braces from Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi turned the tie on its head for a Reds side that were without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Liverpool then went on to lift the Champions League trophy for the sixth time in the club’s history, beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the final.

So, in light of the anniversary of that against all odds triumph over Barcelona, we have taken a look at seven other memorable second leg Champions League comebacks.

Barcelona 6-1 PSG, 2017

PSG, seeking their first ever European Cup, brushed Barcelona aside in the first meeting at the Parc des Princes, triumphing 4-0 to take control of this last 16 clash.

Barca started brightly back at the Nou Camp, with Luis Suarez drawing first blood in the third minute.

The hosts doubled their lead late on in the first half thanks to a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, before Lionel Messi made it 3-0 after the break.

However, Edinson Cavani grabbed a vital away goal for PSG on the hour-mark. The sting was immediately taken out of the home crowd, who knew their team now needed three more to progress.

Incredibly, that is exactly what they got. Neymar made it 4-1 and then 5-1 from the 88th minute onwards, before Sergi Roberto converted in the fifth minute of stoppage time to send Catalan fans delirious.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan, 2004

AC Milan were the reigning European champions in 2003-04, and they would also go on to reach two of the next three finals.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side were therefore favourites to advance even before they thrashed Deportivo 4-1 in the first leg of this quarter-final.

Walter Pandiani struck early to reduce the deficit to two goals, but it was hard to see a Milan team featuring Kaka, Andriy Shevenko, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Jon Dahl Tomasson not finding the net at the Riazor.

As it was, Depor did keep a clean sheet and also scored another three goals to triumph 5-4 on aggregate.

Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque got two of them before half-time, leaving the stage clear for Gonzalez Fran to notch a 75th-minute winner.

Juventus 3-0 Atletico Madrid, 2019

Juventus were only two goals down at the midway point of this last16 tie, but that was a huge deficit given Atletico Madrid’s reputation for defensive stinginess.

If the visiting team scored once in Turin, Juve would need to reply with four goals of their own – and not many teams have ever netted that many against a side coached by Diego Simeone.

But Atleti were unable to score in the second leg, and Juventus had Cristiano Ronaldo to call upon.

The five-time Champions League winner was magnificent, scoring a brilliant hat-trick to send the Serie A side through.

Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea, 2000

An eight-minute blitz brought Chelsea three goals in the first leg of this quarter-final.

Although Luis Figo found the net later in the game, the advantage was firmly with the Blues ahead of the return fixture.

Chelsea must have been reasonably content when they got through the first quarter of the second leg unscathed, but Rivaldo broke the deadlock soon after.

Figo made it 2-0 on the night on the stroke of half-time, but Tore Andre Flo grabbed a vital away goal for Chelsea in the 60th minute.

Time seemed to be running out for Louis van Gaal’s men, but Dani Garcia’s late strike forced extra time – during which Rivaldo and Patrick Kluivert completed one of the memorable Champions League comebacks.

PSG 1-3 Manchester United, 2019

PSG outclassed Manchester United in a 2-0 win at Old Trafford in the first leg of this last 16 meeting.

The chances of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side turning the tie around looked slim, particularly after the Norwegian was forced to name a weakened starting XI because of injury and suspension.

Pressure was well truly and off for United, and that was probably the principal reason behind their superb showing at the Parc des Princes.

Romelu Lukaku’s second-minute goal was soon cancelled out by Juan Bernat, but the Belgian gave United the lead once more on the half-hour mark.

The score remained 1-2 until second-half stoppage time, when Marcus Rashford coolly converted from the penalty spot to book the Red Devils a spot in the quarter-finals.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona, 2018

A year before their humiliation at Anfield, Barcelona had another healthy first leg lead overturned in dramatic fashion.

Roma actually played pretty well in the first game in Catalonia, but their opponents were more clinical and duly took a 4-1 lead to the Italian capital.

It seemed inconsequential at the time, but Edin Dzeko’s late goal in that game proved to be pivotal.

The Bosnian scored within six minutes back at the Stadio Olimpico, and Daniele De Rossi made it 3-4 on aggregate with a second-half penalty.

Roma continued to push for a third goal on the night, while also mindful that a strike at the other end would make their task even harder.

In the end it was the unlikely figure of Kostas Manolas who made himself a hero. The centre back headed home from a corner sending Roma through to the last four on away goals.

Chelsea 4-1 Napoli, 2012

Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as Chelsea manager after a loss to West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, but the writing was on the wall following a 3-1 defeat by Napoli in the first leg of this last 16 match-up.

Roberto Di Matteo was in caretaker charge for the return game, where the aim for Chelsea was to restore some pride. They did much more than that.

Didier Drogba, John Terry, Napoli’s Gokhan Inler and Frank Lampard were all on target to produce extra time.

Branislav Ivanovic then completed the comeback that kick-started Chelsea’s remarkable run to the Champions League glory.