On Tuesday night, under the Anfield lights and fuelled by memories of Istanbul, Liverpool pulled off one of the most stunning turnarounds in Champions League history against Barcelona.
The Catalans took a 3-0 lead to Merseyside for the second leg of their semi-final tie after Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez sunk Jurgen Klopp’s sparkling Reds side at Camp Nou last week.
The Reds looked up against it with dynamic duo Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino left on the sidelines through injury, but put in an awe-inspiring performance to shock Barcelona 4-0, stunning the world of football to reach their second consecutive Champions League final.
Their incredible achievement brought back memories of some outstanding European nights, with comebacks very much talk of the town. Here, we look at eight of the greatest comebacks in the competition’s illustrious history.
Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (2019)
Ajax were the surprise package of the group stages this campaign, holding Bayern Munich to two impressive draws. Nevertheless, no one batted an eyelid when champions Real Madrid secured a 2-1 win in the first leg of their last-16 meeting in Amsterdam.
Then came one of the most devastating away displays at the Bernabeu in memory. Hakim Ziyech swept in an early opener before wideman David Neres added another to rock Real to their core. However, this game belonged to one man: Dusan Tadic.
The playmaker fired a bullet past Thibaut Courtois to cap off a brilliant night having earlier set up Ziyech and Neres, Marco Asensio’s late consolation not enough as Lasse Schone whipped a devilish free-kick into the top corner.
Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid (2004)
Clearly Real have a tendency to collapse. They were comfortable 4-2 winners in the first match-up with Monaco in Spain, but fell to a Ludovic Giuly masterclass at the Stade Louis II.
They extended their advantage in the opening period, the legendary Raul slotting in from a Ronaldo pullback to seemingly book a semi-final date with Chelsea. How simple it must have seemed.
Giuly volleyed home moments before the break, with on-loan Madrid striker Fernando Morientes nodding in another after the restart. The Frenchman then struck the decisive blow, inventively backheeling the ball beyond Iker Casillas as dreams of La Decima turned to dust.
Deportivo 4-0 Milan (2004)
Andrea Pirlo, Cafu, Paolo Maldini, Kaka… the list goes on. This was an iconic Milan lineup, featuring some of the greatest players to ever grace a football pitch, yet Deportivo showed the world that they were mere mortals, after all.
A 4-1 advantage evaporated inside 43 minutes as Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque left the Rossoneri reeling. The contest was killed off when Gonzalez Fran came off the bench to punish Gennaro Gattuso’s mistake as the encounter came to a close, a semi-final with Porto serving as fitting reward for Deportivo’s sublime turnaround.
Roma 3-0 Barcelona (2018)
A routine 4-1 victory in Catalonia looked to have set La Blaugrana on their way to yet another European semi, but Ernesto Valverde witnessed his cohort crash and burn in Rome when their hosts launched one of the most outrageous comebacks in the tournament’s history.
Edin Dzeko nudged a long ball past the onrushing Marc-Andre ter Stegen and club stalwart Daniele de Rossi leathered a penalty in to increase the pressure before Barça began to crumble. On their knees and scrapping for the win, Messi and his teammates were undone by Kostas Manolas’ late glancing header, the centre-back immortalising himself in Giallorossi history.
Barcelona 6-1 PSG (2017)
In terms of deficit overturned, this is the greatest Champions League comeback of all time. Trailing 4-0 following a merciless Paris Saint-Germain performance at the Parc des Princes, Barcelona decimated their speechless opponents in the return fixture.
A combination of Suarez’s inventive header and an own-goal from Layvin Kurzawa breathed life back into the tie, a Messi penalty soon after the break leaving his side a single goal from parity.
Edinson Cavani thumped home what should have been a terminal score for the La Liga giants on the hour mark, but a blitz in the dying embers of the match saw the Catalans emerge victorious. A Neymar brace – one from the spot and one from a free-kick – left PSG on the brink of a degrading exit, which was confirmed by Sergi Roberto’s stretching dink in the 95th minute.
Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (2019)
There’s a bit of a pattern emerging with Spain’s big boys isn’t there? Not content with throwing things away against Roma during the 2017/18 campaign, Barça were at it again against Liverpool in the 2018/19 season.
Okay, this wasn’t there own doing necessarily – because Liverpool were absolutely exceptional on the night in front of a raucous Anfield crowd. Trailing 3-0 from the first leg at Camp Nou, Liverpool set about getting at Barça’s fragile defence from the off, opening the scoring after just seven minutes through Divock Origi.
And despite missing the dynamic duo of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, the Reds continued to pile on the pressure and Gini Wijnaldum’s quickfire double after half-time suddenly had Jurgen Klopp’s side back on level terms.
The incredible turnaround was sealed by a second from Origi 11 minutes from time, sparking scenes of wild jubilation on Merseyside – with Barça again left to rue what might have been.
Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich (1999)
He may not be having the best of times at Old Trafford right now, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s name is already written into Manchester United folklore.
Mario Basler’s low, unerring blast had given Bayern a sixth-minute lead in the Champions League final and it appeared to be the winner as the clock ticked into the red. If only they’d practised defending corners.
Substitutes Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham turned the game on its head in two stoppage-time minutes, the latter swiping the ball past Oliver Kahn to level matters following the Bavarians’ failure to clear the danger. Then came Ole’s golden moment, the baby-faced assassin instinctively redirecting a cross into the roof of the net to guarantee an outstanding treble.
Liverpool 3-3 Milan (2005)
Honestly, what else was going to top this list. This was a ridiculous, emotionally-exhausting final in Istanbul – this was the comeback.
Maldini directed a skimming cross into the net with less than 60 seconds played before a quick-fire Hernan Crespo double left Liverpool hearts shattered. Then it happened; first a Steven Gerrard header, then a Vladimir Smicer rifle and finally Xabi Alonso bundling the ball in after Dida had parried his penalty.
It was as though the Reds were destined to lift the trophy that night. The usually-clinical Andriy Shevchenko was denied from point-blank range in extra time, with the Ukrainian’s miss in the shootout confirming a dazzling fifth European title for the Reds.