The football world lost it’s mind last season when Barcelona completed one of the game’s greatest ever comebacks when they beat PSG 6-1 to progress in the Champions League having lost 4-0 in the first leg. That got us thinking, what are the other great comebacks from football history that we should remember and how do they stack up against that mental night at the Nou Camp?
Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (2005)
For many people, when you talk about great comebacks, this is the one that first comes to mind and in many ways it’s actually better than the Barcelona one because well, it was the Champions League final and Liverpool are not Barcelona.
You kind of expect Barcelona to score six if they need to, whereas when the teams went in at half time in this game all anyone was wondering was how much worse it might get for the Merseyside team. AC Milan had been utterly dominant in the first half and 3-0 was a fair reflection of the gulf in class between the sides.
I watched this game in a student bar in the middle of exam time and seriously considered leaving to watch the end at home, luckily I had a bit of a thirst on at that stage and that “one more pint” allowed me to witness one of the greatest and improbable comebacks of all time.
Newcastle 4-4 Arsenal (2011)
What is it about Arsenal and the number four? It haunts them. Back in 2011 they went away to Newcastle and promptly managed to go four up inside half and hour, leaving the home side looking dead and buried as they went in for tea and slices of orange.
But, and even if you didn’t know about this game, given what’s been happening recently you could probably guess what happened next. A red card shortly after half time for Abou Diaby led to a complete collapse culminating in Cheik Tioté’s greatest ever moment on a football pitch.
Barcelona 1-4 Metz (1984) (5-6 on Aggregate)
Barcelona may have broken Parisian hearts when Sergi Roberto turned in Neymar’s excellent chipped pass last week but the truth is that they were once on the receiving end of an unlikely comeback in Europe at the hands of a French side.
Let’s set the scene, Barcelona had gone away to Metz and beaten them comfortably 4-2. Metz then prepared for the return leg by losing 6-0 to Bordeaux and 7-0 to Monaco. The game at the Nou Camp looked like such a foregone conclusion that French television and Radio media decided not to send anyone to cover the game and when Barca went 1-0 up it seemed like a good decision. But then things changed. Incensed by the way the home side seemed to look down on them, Metz attacked and bagged four goals in under an hour to run out 5-6 victors on aggregate.
Manchester Utd 2-1 Bayern Munich (1999)
Perhaps we shouldn’t even include this one, comebacks are mostly amazing because they normally come out of nowhere and are completely unexpected. This one seemed inevitable. Remember the now legendary commentary before Sheringham’s equaliser, “Can Manchester United score? They always score” said Clive Tyldesley, seconds before the ball hit the back of the net. But this deserves it’s place on the list.
It was the Champions League final, it completed a historic treble of trophies and like all comebacks left the losing side devastated. The images of the Bayern players, strewn around the pitch, some in shock, some thumping the ground in anguish are as iconic as any of the shots of the victorious Manchester United team.
Gillingham 2-2 Manchester City (1999)
Around about the same time United were celebrating their remarkable Champions League final comeback, Manchester City fans were celebrating their own incredible final. The Division Two Play Off final to be exact.
Back in 1999 the current money-bags of the Premier League were struggling to get out of the third division of English football. Unable to gain automatic promotion City were forced to navigate the play offs and faced Gillingham in the deciding game. With just nine minutes to go Gillingham took the lead and then doubled their advantage five minutes later. It looked like City would be staying down, it looked all over, but two late goals in the five minutes of injury time changed the course of the game and the future of the club.