HomeSoccerChampions League: Top 3 comebacks in recent years

Champions League: Top 3 comebacks in recent years

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Champions League, the pinnacle of European club football, has seen an explosion in ‘against-all-odds’ comebacks in recent years. European powerhouses are now not immune to going through to the next round after taking a commendable lead in the first-leg, as the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Roma and Tottenham Hotspur have shown that nothing is impossible in football.

Without further ado, let’s straight get into the top three comebacks in the Champions League in recent years.

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PSG 1-3 Manchester United (aggregate: 3-3, United win on away goals)

Manchester United were comprehensively beaten 2-0 by Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie in 2018-19. Kylian Mbappe ran the show and the Red Devils were lucky that PSG managed to score just twice. Manchester United’s plight was worsened by injuries to Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, while Paul Pogba received a late red card.

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The second leg of the tie began with not many giving Manchester United any chance. However, the Red Devils shocked the Parisian club as Romelu Lukaku’s brace in the first half cancelled the away goals, with the Premier League club going into the half-time break with a 2-1 advantage.

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With 89 minutes played, Manchester United substitute Diogo Dalot took a shot from range and PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe deflected it behind for a corner – only for VAR to overrule the decision and award the visitors a penalty for a handball inside the box. Rashford, still only 21, stepped up against the great Gianluigi Buffon and smashed the resultant spot-kick into the top-left corner and ran to the away end to celebrate a Champions League victory which was remarkable, given the massive gap in quality between the two sets of players.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (aggregate: 4-3)

Lionel Messi’s face at the full-time whistle at the Nou Camp wasn’t a happy one, with the Argentine collapsing to the turf in dismay when Ousmane Dembele lifted a weak finish into the arms of Liverpool custodian Alisson towards the end of the home team’s emphatic 3-0 win. Even though Barcelona fans were already looking to book tickets for the final, Messi knew the tie wasn’t over until the full-time whistle was blown at Anfield.

The Barcelona team had defensive frailties and which were exposed by Roma not so long ago. Messi was aware of it and so, even after winning their Champions League semi-final first leg clash 3-0 last season, the Argentine was sceptical about his side’s chances at Anfield.

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“We score, Liverpool, need FIVE – and we’re going to get at least one… agreed?”, was the rallying cry from Barcelona’s official Twitter account before the clash at Anfield. The Catalan giants were proven horribly wrong as Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi became legends for the Liverpool fans, with both netting a brace to oust Barcelona 4-0.

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With the score 3-0 in favour of Liverpool and the tie poised at 3-3, Liverpool received a corner. Trent Alexander-Arnold, with a flash of genius, took it quickly, and Origi lifted it into the roof of the net to put the hosts 4-0 up. That night was meant for Liverpool and the Reds went on to win their sixth Champions League title a few weeks later by beating fellow Premier League outfit Tottenham in the final.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona (aggregate: 4-4, Roma win on away goals)

Roma pulled off a sensational second-leg comeback to beat Barcelona 3-0 and reach the Champions League semi-finals on away goals in the 2017-18 campaign. The Catalans were firm favourites to progress after their 4-1 first-leg win but fell apart to Roma’s brilliant showing in the return leg. In the first leg, the Italian team scored two own goals to help the Catalans on their way, but Edin Dzeko’s crucial away goal at the Camp Nou afforded them with a glimmer of hope.

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While he didn’t score the winning goal in the second leg, the Bosnian was instrumental in one of Rome’s greatest nights in the Champions League. Dzeko was outstanding with his hold-up play and scored past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen early on at the Stadio Olimpico, before winning a penalty for Daniele De Rossi to slam home and reduce the deficit after the break.

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Kostas Manolas, the scorer of the second own goal at the Camp Nou, met Cengiz Under’s near-post corner and flicked it perfectly into the net to put Roma ahead on away goals. The Stadio Olimpico erupted at the final whistle as the Roma substitutes and coaching staff piled on to the pitch to celebrate with the players. There were tears in the stands from those watching, not quite believing what they had witnessed.

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