The beautiful game often goes to plan, as bookies wouldn’t stay in business for long if they were bad at calling games. But for spectators and bettors alike, that can make upsets all the more enjoyable. Here are some of the greatest comebacks against all odds in football.
Liverpool claim an epic win in 2005
Fans of Liverpool, and football fans generally, will be aware that the club has its own strange history of phenomenal strength and success in the Champions League. Even amid a prolonged drought when it came to domestic league titles, Liverpool was always punching above its weight in the Champions League, the biggest club prize of them all. But in 2005 it very much looked like even the Scousers’ legendary skills were utterly undone. They had made the final, and were playing AC Milan in Istanbul. The first half was something out of a nightmare for fans who had travelled two thousand miles or so only to watch their team get absolutely hammered in the first half. Milan scoring first might not have been so bad, if they hadn’t scored second and third as well. Come the half time whistle, Liverpool faced a 3-0 mountain to climb and looked utterly out of it.
Despite the expense, distance, and time involved travelling, a number of Liverpool fans deserted their team, vacated the stadium, and set about searching for early flights home. It would not take long for them to bitterly regret their lack of faith. Liverpool had entered the final as clear underdogs, and this assessment by bookies was backed up by the first half performance. But as a wise man once said, football is a game of two halves, and the Liverpool side that emerged to play in the second half was a different beast. Eight minutes into the second half captain Steven Gerrard scored their first goal, with a second added one minute later by Vladimir Smicer. Before full time could rescue Milan, Xabi Alonso knocked in number three and the scoreboard had them level pegging at 3-3.
Extra time beckoned and while Milan played well they could not knock in a winner. Nor could Liverpool. And so the dreaded penalties loomed. Jerzy Dudek was aware of the famous wobbly legs of his team’s keeper of yesteryear, Bruce Grobbelaar, and imitated the shaky peg approach. And it worked. Liverpool won the penalty shoot out and the whole tournament, despite having been 3-0 down with 45 minutes to go. It’s one of the all time great footballing comebacks, and one of few as extraordinary as those reported by Online-Casinos.ca portal – a site dedicated to Canada.
Barcelona’s sensational six versus Paris Saint-Germain
At various times of recent footballing history it’s been tricky picking winners between Europe’s powerhouse clubs like Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Barcelona. However, one thing did make PSG a clear favourite in 2017, which was that in the first leg of their Champion’s League match the French club had not so much beaten as slaughtered the Spanish side by a colossal 4-0. When the second leg rolled around, hopes were not high. Even playing at home, Barcelona were facing a nigh on impossible deficit to claw back.
Things did start well, though. Luis Suarez knocked in the first with just three minutes on the clock, reducing the arrears to 4-1. Then came a long wait of over half an hour until Layvin Kurzawa of PSG helpfully provided an own goal to narrow the gap a little bit more and inject some hope into the Spanish club. Messi scored a penalty, only for PSG to extend the gap again, but with just two minutes left of regular time something magical happened for Barcelona. Neymar scored in the 88th minute, before adding to his tally with a penalty in the first minute of extra time to make the aggregate score 5-5. And then, in the fifth minute of extra time, Roberto put in the final goal to complete an astounding 6-5 comeback. Spare a thought for PSG fans, going into a second leg 4-0 up and then losing. In fact, it was the first time this had happened in the UEFA Champions League.
Spurs slay Ajax against the odds
The 2019 Champions League had some cracking matches, and one of the best featured Tottenham Hotspur and Dutch side Ajax. Spurs had defied the odds to beat a titan of English football, Manchester City, in the quarters by virtue of a precious away goal, but now they faced serious competition from Ajax. The first leg was played at home for Spurs, but instead of steamrollering their opposition with home advantage they found themselves 1-0 down, and having to try and make good the difference away from home.
And the away leg started about as well as the charge of the Light Brigade, with the Dutch captain knocking in another goal to extend their lead, with Ziyech adding another. Come half time, Spurs were facing a 3-0 deficit rather than being just a goal behind. The ‘good’ news was that the away goal meant they only needed three rather than four goals. Before an hour showed on the clock Lucas had knocked in not just one but two goals, yet that was not enough. The seconds and minutes ticked down. Injury time arrived and Spurs were still 3-2 down and staring down a heartbreaking defeat at the semi-final stage. And in the sixth minute of stoppage time Lucas got his hat trick. Ajax were out, and Spurs were through to their first ever Champions League final.
Liverpool stun Barcelona in the second leg
Merseyside’s finest and Barcelona both have proud footballing traditions so it’s no surprise to find them together, but on this occasion (Champions League 2019) it was the British team that ended up on top, although that looked highly improbable after the first leg of their semi-final. Liverpool had only finished second In their group, losing half their matches and being equal to third-placed Napoli on points and goal difference but proceeding based on scoring more goals overall. In spite of this imperfect start, the English side had handily seen off competition from Bayern Munich and then, in the quarters, Porto. But then they played Barcelona.
The first leg was in Barcelona, and Liverpool were severely outmatched. Home advantage can count for a lot, and there was only ever one team in it. Suarez scored in the first half with Messi bagging a brace in the second half, allowing Barcelona to canter into an effortless 3-0 lead. But as we’ve already seen, 3-0 deficits are something of a Liverpudlian speciality on the European stage.
And so it proved again. Barcelona found out what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a drubbing away from home, and Origi’s goal in the seventh minute was a clear statement of intent. That being said, it was the only goal on the board for most of the match, which would’ve seen Barcelona progress 3-1 on aggregate, but come the second half Origi got his second and Wijnaldum scored twice in three minutes to claim a priceless 4-3 victory. This set up an all English final against Tottenham Hotspur, and Liverpool won the Champions League for the sixth time.
A capital rollercoaster
This is something of a bonus entry as the Reading-Arsenal match in the 2012 Football League/Capital One Cup was not exactly the pinnacle of club football but it did have some odd twists and turns. Arsenal were clear favourites with the bookies, but Reading had obviously had their Weetabix because they surged into a stonking 4-0 lead, making their London heavyweight opposition look rather feeble. Walcott did peg one back before the halftime whistle but things were still looking very dodgy for Arsenal.
They did manage to scrape it back to 5-5 to bring on extra time. Things were looking deadlocked until Reading got careless and two goals in stoppage time of extra time secured Arsenal the win, with a record number of goals scored in this fixture.
And that caps our little look back at some of the best comebacks to snatch glory from the jaws of failure. Don’t forget, as any Liverpool fan will tell you, to watch the full 90 minutes, because you never know just what might happen.