Top 3 Greatest Soccer Comebacks
Football is a sport full of passion and drama. It can cause excitement and euphoria on one hand, and heartbreak and disappointment on the other. During a single game, a football fan may endure a roller coaster ride of emotions, where tears of joy can quickly be replaced by sobs of sadness.
Nothing encapsulates the dramatic effect of football better than a comeback. That moment when a team prevails against all the odds to win a match that had already been written off as a lost cause.
Over the years, there have been greatest soccer comebacks, so let’s take a look at some of the most notable from recent times.
When Barcelona won the first leg of this Cup Winners’ Cup match in France by a 4-2 score line, everyone, including the media, decided that it was game over. The TV companies decided not to show the second leg and only 24,000 fans turned up to watch the match live at the Camp Nou. Even the French press had given up hope and only one reporter was dispatched to cover the game.
Barca boss Terry Venables had warned his team not to relax; but everyone, including the club’s hierarchy, already had one eye on the next round. And when Barca took the lead through Francisco José Carrasco after 33 minutes (to make it 5-2 on aggregate), the Spanish club looked on course to progress.
Despite needing four goals to qualify, the French side refused to stick to the script, and just five minutes after the home side had taken the lead, Slovenian-born striker Tony Kurbos scored an equaliser. Moments later, an own goal from José Vicente Sánchez made it 1-2 on the night (5-4 on aggregate) and suddenly the complexion of the game had changed.
Thanks to the away goal rule, the French team still needed to score twice and that’s exactly what they did, with Kurbos providing both goals to complete his hat-trick and send the Spaniards crashing out.
After the first game, Barcelona midfielder Bernd Schuster had promised to buy the Metz players some ham in exchange for the goals that they had gifted them on the night. When the final whistle blew at the Camp Nou, Metz goalkeeper Michel Ettorre ran straight to Schuster and enquired: “Where’s your ham now?”
Back in 2005, Liverpool had not had a great season in the Premier League. But under new coach Rafa Benitez, the team seemed to have acquired a magic touch in Europe. They had already pulled off a remarkable comeback – by scoring three second-half goals against Olympiakos to progress from the group stage of the competition – before they went on to beat Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea to set up a final clash against Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan.
The final did not start well for the Reds, as they were totally outplayed by Milan during the first 45 minutes, and by the time the half-time whistle blew, they were trailing the Italians by a 3-0 score line.
In the second half, Benitez replaced full-back Steve Finnan with midfielder Didi Hamann and switched to a 3-5-2 formation. The tactical decision paid off and Liverpool looked much more competitive in the second period.
Inspired by their vocal support and talismanic captain Steven Gerrard, the English team stunned Milan by scoring three goals in a six-minute spell to level the scores at 3-3 and take the game to extra time. With neither side able to break the deadlock during the 30 minute extension, the game had to be decided by a penalty shootout.
During the penalty contest, Liverpool goal keeper, Jerzy Dudek famously recreated the “wobbly legs” tactic that former Reds stopper Bruce Grobbelaar had used against Roma in the 1984 European Cup Final. The ploy appeared to work as Milan missed three of their five penalties and Liverpool were crowned champions of Europe for the fifth time.
Due to the incredible events that unfolded that night, the final became known as The Miracle of Istanbul.
Overturning a one goal deficit may not sound like much of a comeback, until you consider that this turnaround occurred during injury time of a Champions League Final.
In the 1999 final of Europe’s elite competition, Bayern Munich has taken the lead after just six minutes thanks to a goal from Mario Basler. The Germans controlled most of the game and maintained their advantage until the clock had passed the 90 minute mark.
With just three minutes of injury time indicated by the fourth official, the English side lined up to take a corner. In a desperate attempt to force extra time, the Red Devils boss Alex Ferguson instructed goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel to join the attack.
David Beckham took the corner, and after a poor clearance by Munich midfielder Thorsten Fink, the ball arrived at the feet of Ryan Giggs. The Welsh international struck a poor shot towards goal which was diverted into the net by his teammate Teddy Sheringham.
With extra time seemingly inevitable, the game restarted and United quickly won another corner. However, this time, Schmeichel was instructed not to join the attack. Beckham once again took the corner which was met by the head of Teddy Sheringham. The ball travelled across the face of the goal and was poked into the roof of the net by the outstretched toe of Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Both goals occurred within the space of one minute and 41 seconds.
With just a few seconds left on the clock, the game was restarted but it was too late for Bayern and the English club lifted their second European crown.
Players, staff and officials in the stadium were all left stunned by the result. In an interview on British TV, shell-shocked United boss Alex Ferguson famously declared: “Football, eh? Bloody hell.“