Five greatest comebacks in the Champions League

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Five greatest comebacks in the Champions League

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SportsCafe Desk

03/09/2017

Football is the biggest sport in the world and while the masses tune in to watch the World Cup, die-hard fans will tell you that there is nothing better than two teams fighting it out in the Champions League. This competition has provided some of the best moments, along with the biggest stars.

On Wednesday, Barcelona created history by becoming the first team to overturn a four-goal deficit when they beat PSG 6-1 to seal the tie 6-5 and book themselves a place in the Champions League quarter-final. 

Following that incredible performance, here are some of the best comebacks in Europe's elite club competition, since it was rebooted in 1992:

Barcelona 4 - 0 AC Milan (2 - 0)

While yesterday's comeback might possibly be the greatest ever witnessed on a football field, it is certainly not the first time that Barcelona has been involved in a match where the odds were stacked against them. In in 2013 edition of the tournament, Barcelona stood 90 minutes away from elimination after losing 2-0 at the San Siro at the hands of AC Milan.

Like in the game against the Parisian's, Barcelona got off to the perfect start after some intricate play outside the box between Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, and Lionel Messi, with the latter finishing off the move with a brilliant curling effort into the corner. But the game wasn't done just yet, as M’Baye Niang reminded the Catalans when his shot was deflected by Victor Valdés onto the post. 

Seven minutes before half-time, when Iniesta robbed Ambrosini off the ball and played it into the path of Messi. The Argentine controlled the ball with his first touch set up the shot with his second and his third put the ball past Abiati in goal to level the tie at 2-2.

Then, with just minutes into the second half, the comeback was complete as David Villa latched onto a Xavi through ball and curled the ball into the net. Jordi Alba made it completely certain that Barca would progress to the next round with a goal in the last minute of the game.

Chelsea 4 - 1 Napoli (3 - 1)

What does a team do when they find themselves 3-1 down in the first leg of Champions League knockout game? Well, while most teams just regroup in the hopes of staging a comeback, Chelsea decided to sack Andre Villas-Boas just 8 months into the job and replace him with the inexperienced Roberto Di Matteo, who had just two years of coaching expertise under his belt.

Chelsea had been completely outplayed in Naples and things looked bleak as Napoli made a quick start to the game. However, after seeing off the early Napoli blitz, Chelsea settled down into a good rhythm and got the all important first goal through Didier Drogba who made a darting run into the box to head a Ramires cross past De Sanctis

Two minutes after the interval, John Terry made a brilliant run to the front post and glanced his header into the net to put Chelsea in the driving seat thanks to their away goal in Naples. Napoli, who had been threatening a goal of their own were rewarded for their troubles as Gokhan Inler's fierce shot put the Italians ahead on aggregate. 

But Chelsea were not to be denied as FrankLampard scored from the penalty spot to level the score and force the game into injury time. The teams continued to exchange punches and eventually, the home side were rewarded through the most unlikely source in Branislav Ivanovic. Chelsea went on to beat Barcelona and Bayern Munich to claim their one and only Champions League crown, till date.

Monaco 3 - 1 Real Madrid (4 - 2)

Monaco came into the game with two away goals to their name but Real Madrid had the aggregate advantage of the same number of goals. Monaco looked down and out when real legend Raul Gonzalez further increased the Real's advantage with a goal in the first half.

However, when future Barcelona player Ludovic Giuly's volley was deflected past Iker Casillas, on the stroke of half-time, the French side knew there was something to fight for in the second half. Ironically, it was Real's on-loan striker Fernando Morientes who scored against his parent club, with a peach of a header, to put Monaco ahead on the night. 

With just under half an hour to go, it was the Frenchman Giuly who struck again. This time it was a delicate flick behind his legs to hand his team the lead. The French side went on the reach the final of the competition where they were beaten by a Jose Mourinho-inspired Porto.

Juventus 2 - 3 Manchester United (1 - 1)

Juventus were attempting to reach the final of the Champions League for the fifth year in a row while Manchester United found themselves chasing a treble in the last months of the 1999 season. Boasting of players such as Zinedine Zidane, Edgar Davids, Antonio Conte, Alessandro Del Piero, and Didier Deschamps, Juventus were seen as heavy favorites for the semi-final clash against the English side, thanks to their away goal in Manchester.

Juventus would have thought that they had one foot in the final when FilippoInzaghi scored a brace within eleven minutes of the start. Moreover, Juve had not lost a home game in the competition since 1995, so United knew that it was going to be a long night for them. However, Roy Keane had other ideas as he pulled one back for the visitors from a corner before Dwight Yorke leveled things up in the 34th minute.

Seven minutes from time, the traveling supporters were sent into a frenzy when Andy Cole latched onto a loose ball after Angelo Peruzzi had brought down Dwight Yorke in the box. The game ended 3-2 in favor of the English team, who booked a place in the final for the first time since 1968 - the year they won it.

Deportivo La Coruna 4 - 0 AC Milan (4 -1)

There was a time in football when even the mighty Real Madrid and Barcelona trembled at the sight of an Italian team in the Champions League. So when Deportivo La Corunawere drawn against defending champions AC Milan, whose squad boasted of players such as Kaka, Maldini, Shevchenko, and Nesta. The Italians proved their superiority winning the first leg 4-1.

In an almost perfect first half, Walter Pandiani, who had scored the all-important away goal at the San Siro, opened the scoring for Deportivo at the Estadio Municipal de Riazor. Juan Carlos Valeron doubled the lead for the Spaniards with a header from 3 yards after Dida had misjudged the flight of the ball. The half got better for Deportivo as a rare mistake from Nesta put Albert Luque through on goal with the keeper. Luque made no mistake as he smashed the ball past Dida who had no response to the strike.

14 minutes from time captain Fran's shot took a wicked deflection off the Milan defense to wrong-foot the keeper, as the Spaniards took the lead on aggregate was well.  Before Barcelona's hammering of PSG, this was a record for a comeback win as no one had ever recovered from a three-goal first-leg deficit to win a Champions League game. Even though Barcelona have beaten their record, this game will live on in history as one of the greatest underdog stories in football.

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