Best Champions League Comebacks Ever: Istanbul 2005 and more

Here are our picks for the greatest comebacks in the history of the UEFA Champions League competition, including Istanbul 2005.

 
7:00am on Thursday 30th May 2024
By
Jake Skudder

The UEFA Champions League is renowned for its dramatic matches and astonishing comebacks.

Over the years, several teams have defied the odds to secure unforgettable victories. Here, we rank the top five greatest comebacks in Champions League history.

5. Deportivo La Coruña vs. AC Milan (2003/04 Quarter-finals)

First Leg: AC Milan 4-1 Deportivo La Coruña

Second Leg: Deportivo La Coruña 4-0 AC Milan

In the 2003/04 quarter-finals, Deportivo La Coruña faced a daunting task after being thrashed 4-1 by AC Milan in the first leg.

However, the Spanish side staged an extraordinary comeback at the Riazor. Goals from Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valerón, and Albert Luque saw them lead 3-0 by half-time.

A fourth goal from substitute Fran González sealed a historic 4-0 victory, sending Deportivo to the semi-finals with a 5-4 aggregate win.

4. Roma vs. Barcelona (2017/18 Quarter-finals)

First Leg: Barcelona 4-1 Roma

Second Leg: Roma 3-0 Barcelona

After a 4-1 defeat at the Camp Nou, Roma's chances seemed slim.

Yet, at the Stadio Olimpico, Edin Džeko's early goal set the tone for an unforgettable night.

Daniele De Rossi's penalty and Kostas Manolas's header completed a stunning 3-0 victory, securing Roma's place in the semi-finals on away goals, tied 4-4 on aggregate.

3. Manchester United vs. Paris Saint-Germain (2018/19 Round of 16)

First Leg: Manchester United 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain

Second Leg: Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Manchester United

Manchester United's hopes appeared dashed after a 2-0 home defeat.

In the return leg, Romelu Lukaku scored twice, but Paris still held the aggregate advantage.

Deep into added time, a controversial handball decision went United's way, and Marcus Rashford converted the penalty, sealing a 3-1 win and progressing on away goals.

2. Liverpool vs. Barcelona (2018/19 Semi-finals)

First Leg: Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool

Second Leg: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona

Barcelona seemed certain to reach the final after a dominant 3-0 win at Camp Nou.

However, at Anfield, Liverpool pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks in football history.

Divock Origi's early goal was followed by two quickfire strikes from Georginio Wijnaldum. Origi's second, from a clever corner routine, completed a 4-0 triumph, sending Liverpool through to the final, where they would eventually lift the trophy.

1. Liverpool vs. AC Milan (2004/05 Final)

First Half: AC Milan 3-0 Liverpool

Second Half: Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (Liverpool won 3-2 on penalties)

The 2005 final in Istanbul is arguably the greatest comeback in Champions League history. AC Milan raced to a 3-0 half-time lead with goals from Paolo Maldini and Hernán Crespo.

However, Liverpool staged an incredible fightback in the second half. Steven Gerrard, Vladimír Šmicer, and Xabi Alonso scored within six minutes to level the match.

After a goalless extra time, Liverpool triumphed 3-2 in the penalty shootout, securing their fifth European Cup in the most dramatic fashion.

Honorable Mentions

Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain (2016/17 Round of 16)

First Leg: Paris Saint-Germain 4-0 Barcelona

Second Leg: Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain

Known as "La Remontada," Barcelona overturned a 4-0 deficit with a 6-1 win, capped by Sergi Roberto's last-gasp goal.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Ajax (2018/19 Semi-finals)

First Leg: Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Ajax

Second Leg: Ajax 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur

Lucas Moura's second-half hat-trick, including a stoppage-time winner, saw Spurs overturn a 3-0 aggregate deficit to reach their first final.

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