After the week of European football we just had, this seems like a opportune time to talk about some of the greatest football comebacks. Off the bat, I hereby swear that not every entry on this list will be a Chelsea comeback. There have been more than a few for the Blues but there are many, many more across football in general. I will mainly focusing on European football as that’s what I watch the most. Here we are then, my top 5 football comebacks.
5) Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (5-4 on aggregate) Champions League Round of 16 14/03/2012
A remarkable Stamford Bridge night in what had been a tumultuous season for the Blues. A 3-1 defeat in Naples had the Blues needing to pull out all the stops. And they did. Goals from Didier Drogba and John Terry had Chelsea ahead before Gokhan Inler crashed a volley in to put the Italian side back on top. A clear handball gave Lampard the chance from the spot to level things up overall, which he duly did. And in extra time, Drogba was able to put a cross into the area for Branislav Ivanovic to send the ball into the roof of the net, and Chelsea onto Champions League glory.
4) Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate) Champions League semi-final 7/05/2019
Anfield has seen many a historic European night, but this might just trump them all. Having to overturn a three goal defeat in the first leg and without Mo Salah or Roberto Firmino, Liverpool looked to be dead and buried. But, Jurgen Klopp and his players clearly hadn’t read the script. With the crowd roaring them on, they got in Barcelona’s face and never allowed them to settle. An early Divock Origi goal provided the impetus before two Georginio Wijnaldum goals in as many minutes wrestled control of the tie away from the Catalans. The winner came from some wonderful improvisation from Trent Alexander-Arnold and a smart finish from Divock Origi to send Liverpool through to their second Champions League final in as many years.
3) Watford 3-1 Leicester City (3-2 on aggregate) English Football League Championship Play-Off semi-final 12/05/2013
This one, I picked purely because it has one of the most extraordinary finishes to a game of football I’ve ever seen. There have been plenty of last minute winners in football over the years but for me this one is just something else. After a 1-0 win for Leicester in the first leg, a 2-1 scoreline in Watford’s favour was sending the game to extra time. Then Anthony Knockaert went down in the Watford area under a Marco Cassetti challenge. To Watford’s horror a penalty was awarded when there really wasn’t much in the challenge. With almost the last kick of the game, Knockaert had the chance to send the Foxes to Wembley and possibly into the Premier League. But, Manuel Almunia saved both the penalty and the follow-up and 20 seconds later the ball was in the Leicester net. Cue delirium at Vicarage Road and one of the most remarkable ends to a game of football ever.
2) Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (6-5 on aggregate) Champions League Round of 16 08/03/2017
This is one of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Messi and co. had been beaten handily in Paris. No side had ever come back from losing the first leg 4-0 in the history of the European Cup/Champions League. No matter how well they played, they weren’t going to go through. It was that simple. And yet, they did it. With a couple of questionable penalties maybe, but they managed what had seemed impossible. This is possibly Neymar’s finest game of his career; he dragged Barcelona back into the tie and was a constant thorn in the side of PSG’s defence. Even when Edison Cavani scored to restore PSG’s confidence, Barca kept on coming and Neymar was central. A match winning six minutes saw him score a bullet free kick, a penalty, and provide the assist for the winner with 30 seconds left on the clock. From the moment Luis Suarez nicked in front of Kevin Trapp to head home a loose ball, Barcelona could sense the vulnerability and nervousness of the PSG defence and they were relentless.
- Liverpool 3-3 A.C. Milan (Liverpool won 3-2 on penalties) Champions League Final 25/05/2005
There is a reason this match is known as the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’. A.C. Milan were favourites for the 2005 Champions League against a Liverpool side some might still argue to this day were more than a bit lucky to be there at all (especially if your support is for a certain blue-clad team from London). And three Milan goals including a sublime chip over the advancing Jerzy Dudek from Hernan Crespo off a lovely pass from Kaka looked to have sealed Liverpool’s fate. But in six remarkable second half minutes, Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso pulled Liverpool back from the brink of defeat to being right back in it. An extraordinary double save by Dudek in extra time took it to penalties. And Dudek’s Grobbelaar legs did the trick as Liverpool held their nerve to win the shoot out 3-2. I guess the Liverpool players took two old adages to heart. One, it’s not over ’til the fat lady sings. And two, Bill Shankly reminded us all, football is not a matter of life and death, it’s more important than that.