Real Madrid vs Liverpool: The greatest comebacks in Champions League history

Karim Benzema celebrates scoring for Real Madrid against Liverpool at Anfield
Liverpool need another unlikely comeback to reach the Quarters

Liverpool’s Champions League quarter-finals hopes are hanging by a thread.

They travel to Real Madrid on Wednesday and will need to come from a three-goal deficit afterwards – something that has only been achieved on three previous occasions in the competition lost 5-2 in the first leg at Anfield.

But the Reds have previously endured unlikely struggles in the Champions League and will feel heartened by their 7-0 win over Manchester United in the Premier League.

Before Liverpool attempt to disrupt chances at the Bernabeu, let’s revisit some of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.

Ajax 2-3 Tottenham (semi-final second leg, 8 May 2019)

3-3 overall: Tottenham win on away goals

Tottenham players celebrate their comeback win over Ajax in Champions League semifinals in 2019
Lucas Moura’s hat-trick helped Spurs to their first Champions League final

Tottenham traveled 1-0 to Ajax for the second leg of their semi-final and things only got worse in Amsterdam as Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech gave Ajax a 3-0 lead before half-time.

Spurs had to score three goals without responding to progress and were given a glimmer of hope by Lucas Moura 10 minutes into the second half – and just four minutes later the game was on.

Moura pounced on a loose ball in the box after Fernando Llorente’s shot was saved and he rolled home to put the hosts on the ropes.

The breathtaking turn came in the 95th minute when Moura completed his hat trick to seal Tottenham’s place in the final on away goals, leaving Ajax players strewn across the pitch in disbelief.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (semi-final second leg, 7 May 2019)

Overall Liverpool 4-3 Barcelona

Divock Origi celebrates Liverpool's fourth goal against Barcelona in their stunning comeback in 2019
Divock Origi’s goal sparked wild scenes on another memorable Champions League night at Anfield

Just 24 hours before Tottenham’s exploits in Amsterdam, Liverpool became just the third club in Champions League history to come from a three-goal deficit from the first leg.

The Reds’ hopes of progressing back to the semi-finals after a 3-0 defeat by Barcelona at the Nou Camp were slim, particularly as Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were unavailable through injury.

But Divock Origi got the ball rolling after seven minutes before the tie really turned within 166 seconds of half-time when substitute Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice.

A moment of quick thought saw Liverpool completes the job when Trent Alexander-Arnold spotted Barcelona’s defensive switch from a corner and whipped the ball deep into the goal for Origi to fire home and spark wild scenes at Anfield.

Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Manchester United (round of 16 second leg, 6 March 2019)

3-3 overall: Man Utd win on away goals

Marcus Rashford scores a penalty for Manchester United against PSG
Marcus Rashford’s first competitive penalty sealed Manchester United’s comeback

It all started in a memorable year for English comebacks in the Champions League Manchester United plays against Paris Saint Germain in the last 16

Interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suffered the first defeat of his tenure in the first leg as a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford ended an 11-game unbeaten run.

None of the previous 107 clubs to have lost a first leg in the Champions League or European Cup by two goals or more had progressed and few expected United to buck that trend.

But Romelu Lukaku gave United the perfect start after two minutes, only for Juan Bernat to hit back eleven minutes later to restore PSG’s overall lead by two goals.

The Red Devils refused to give up and Lukaku put them ahead on the night before Marcus Rashford converted his first penalty for the club in the 94th minute to send United through.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona (Quarterfinal second leg, 10 April 2018)

4-4 aggregate result: Roma win on away goals

Roma celebrate Kostas Manolas' win over Barcelona in 2018
Kostas Manolas’ header sealed Roma’s unlikely win over Barcelona

“The Roma have risen from their ruins.”

This iconic line from commentator Peter Drury summed up an incredible night as Roma caught up memorable comeback to send Barcelona to the quarterfinals.

Own goals from Daniele de Rossi and Kostas Manolas helped Barca win 4-1 in the first leg at the Camp Nou.

Edin Dzeko’s late goal in Spain gave Roma something to build on and the striker struck early in the second leg to further boost their confidence.

De Rossi conceded his own goal with a second-half goal and Manolas headed home a corner just eight minutes from time to end Roma’s 34-year wait to reach the semi-finals of Europe’s premier competition.

Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (second leg round of 16, March 8, 2017)

Overall result: Barcelona 6-5 Paris Saint-Germain

Neymar celebrates during Barcelona's 'Remontada' win over Paris St-Germain
Neymar was the star of the show during ‘Le Remontada’

This arguably greatest comeback of all is so iconic it has its own title in France and Spain – La Remontada (the coming back).

PSG were clinical at home, winning 4-0, but the Nou Camp felt something special when Luis Suarez scored just three minutes into the second leg.

Barcelona were two goals too good at half-time thanks to a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, but were still two goals down overall.

Lionel Messi scored a penalty just after the restart but Edinson Cavani hit back to silence home loyalty, although it wasn’t the moment PSG had hoped for.

Barcelona, ​​now 5-3 behind, needed three goals in under 30 minutes to pull off a miracle. Neymar grabbed a free-kick in the 88th minute to inspire further hope before the Brazilian scored a penalty in the 91st minute to make it 5-5 on aggregate.

But PSG were still on the way to away goals.

But with 20 seconds of added time remaining, La Remontada came into play when Sergi turned Roberto Neymar’s choppy pass home, with Barcelona becoming the only team in history to reverse a four-goal deficit in the Champions League.

AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (final, 25 May 2005)

AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (AET) – Liverpool win 3-2 on penalties

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard holds up the Champions League trophy in Istanbul 2005
Liverpool’s comeback ended in a thrilling penalty shoot-out win in Istanbul

That famous night in Istanbul.

Moving away from two-legged ties that Champions League Final 2005 was an unforgettable evening of football.

AC Milan thought they had the trophy in their hands after going 3-0 at half-time, but seven minutes into the second half changed the course of history.

Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso scored to equalize for Liverpool and it stayed that way after 120 minutes when Reds keeper Jerzy Dudek made an impressive double save from Andriy Shevchenko in extra time.

Evoking memories of Bruce Grobelaar in 1984, Dudek’s shaky legs and goal-line antics played a big part in his side’s penalty shoot-out victory when Serginho, Andrea Pirlo and Shevchenko failed to convert.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (Quarter-finals 2nd leg, 7 April 2004)

Overall result: Deportivo La Coruña 5-4 AC Milan

Deportivo La Coruña's Albert Luque celebrates while AC Milan keeper Dida looks on
Deportivo La Coruna overcame a 4-1 deficit to defeat AC Milan

Deportivo La Coruna, currently active in the third tier of Spanish football, are no longer associated with the Champions League – but they put up a memorable battle against heavyweight opponents in 2004.

Milan traveled to Spain with a 4-1 lead from the first leg, but Deportivo were unwilling to roll over.

Walter Pandiani, breaking the impasse at the San Siro, set the Spaniards up and running on home soil.

Unlike the first leg, when they sat back after taking the lead, Deportivo threw caution to the wind and it paid off as they wiped out Milan’s overall lead in just 43 minutes.

That was enough to see them progress on the away goals, but they kept on pressing and Fran scored a fourth to confirm Carlo Ancelotti’s side were on the way out.

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich (26 May 1999)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates with his Man Utd team-mates after scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s goal sealed the treble for Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United

It was almost in the script that Manchester United would seal the final chunk of their historic soaring streak in Fergie Time.

With the Premier League and FA Cup already secured, United’s trifle from German giants Bayern Munich stood in their way 1999 Champions League Final in the Nou camp.

With Roy Keane and Paul Scholes both suspended United’s hopes had already been dashed and their mission was made even harder when Mario Basler gave Bayern the lead in six minutes.

But ultimately the final proved to be a tale of two substitutes – Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Sheringham helped Ryan Giggs’ scraped shot equalize in the 91st minute before Solskjaer struck the second just two minutes later and handed manager Sir Alex Ferguson his first Champions League trophy.

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