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10 best Champions League finals of all-time

The
The Champions League has seen some amazing finals
Parth Athale

Champions League finals. These games are arguably the biggest club football games on the planet. The glittering lights, the tremendous pressure, the unabashed expectation.

Games such as these are the ones which players crave, games which they live for. The best teams in the continent facing off against each other as the whole world watches on.

Courtesy of the enormous quality on display, we have witnessed some unbelievable European finals over the years. Finals which reaffirm our faith in football and prove that there is nothing quite like our beloved sport.

On that note, relive the ten best Champions League finals of all-time. Here goes!


#10 Bayern Munich 1-1 Chelsea (3-4 on penalties) - 2012

FC Bayern Muenchen v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final
Elated Chelsea players in 2012

Played at the Allianz Arena in Munich, it was technically a neutral venue but Chelsea found themselves playing in front of huge swathes of red Bayern support nonetheless.

Bayern dominated proceedings and had a host of chances which they failed to convert, Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben being the prime culprits. They broke through in the end when Thomas Muller headed home in the 83rd minute to send the stadium into raptures.

It looked as if Bayern would negotiate the win, but Didier Drogba with his stellar cup final record had other ideas. He thumped a powerful header past Manuel Neuer and leveled for the Blues, sending the game into extra-time.

In the extra period, Drogba was involved again as he felled Ribery in the box. Petr Cech came to the rescue, saving from Robben's penalty.

Chelsea prevailed in the penalty shootout owing to Cech's brilliance and Drogba fittingly slotted the decisive kick to take Chelsea over the line.

#9 Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt - 1960

Rel
Real Madrid's all-conquering squad of 1960

Normally the most memorable matches are close battles fought with tenacity, but this final stands out for the sheer dominance by one side.

Real Madrid was undoubtedly the best team in Europe at the time, as they had won all four of the European Cups till then. Going into their fifth successive final they were huge favourites and so it proved to be.

Frankfurt who were huge underdogs surprisingly took the lead through Richard Kress but the goal woke up the Spanish giants.

They scored seven goals in the subsequent hour with Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano at the heart of it all.

Di Stefano scored a hat-trick and Puskas bettered him by scoring four goals which demolished the German outfit.

Till date, the Hungarian is the only player to score four goals in a European Final. Frankfurt did score three goals but the domination exhibited by Madrid cannot be understated.

#8 Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid - 2014

Soccer - UEFA Champions League Final - Real Madrid CF vs Club Atletico de Madrid
Sergio Ramos scoring 'that' goal

In a Madrid derby, Real was looking for their tenth European crown or 'La Decima' as it was labeled.

Atletico was playing in just their second final and the first one in more than forty years. Atletico had won the league which was an incredible achievement in itself for their limited resources but they were hoping to go one better under coach Diego Simeone.

Diego Godin put Atletico in front in the first half and as the game progressed their hope was turning to reality.

Until that moment. The moment when Sergio Ramos leaped like a graceful gazelle and planted a header past Thibaut Courtois. The clock read 92:48 and the scoreboard 1-1.

Atleti hearts were shattered and their morale drooped. Real bulldozed over their shaken opponents and scored three in extra time courtesy of Gareth Bale, Marcelo, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

La Decima was achieved by decimating their derby rivals in the cruelest way imaginable.

#7 AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona - 1994

FUSSBALL: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 93/94, AC MAILAND
Paolo Maldini with the trophy

Barcelona were overwhelming favourites going into the tie. Johan Cruyff had led the 'Dream Team' to a fourth successive league title and his side was playing revolutionary football on the pitch.

AC Milan on the other hand despite being crowned Italian champions were woefully out of form as they had failed to win any of the last six league games.

Ahead of the final, they were without injured striker Marco Van Basten and suspended defenders Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta.

Everything pointed to a Catalan victory. But the script had something else. The Rossoneri came out all guns blazing and scored four goals in under an hour.

Dejan Savicevic, Marcel Desailly, and a Daniele Massaro brace meant that Barcelona was stunned and Italian joy knew no bounds.

#6 Benfica 5-3 Real Madrid - 1962

Jubilant
Jubilant Benfica players in 1962

Heading into this final, only either of these two teams had ever tasted European glory. Real Madrid has won the first five finals and Benfica had won the Cup the previous year.

If Benfica were hoping to repeat their feat, they got off to the worst possible start. Hungarian maestro Ferenc Puskas scored twice in quick succession to put his side 2-0 up. He scored again as Benfica trailed 2-3 at half-time.

They exploded after the interval courtesy of young Portuguese sensation Eusebio, scoring three unanswered goals.

Eusebio scored two of them, a penalty which turned out to be the game-winner and a thunderbolt to boot. A sensational win for the Portugal side.

Benfica failed to repeat their achievement, whereas opponents Madrid won the title 7 times in the future.

#5 Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United - 2011

Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Final
Barcelona thoroughly deserved their crown in 2011

This final was a rematch of the one in 2009 when Barcelona had beat United in Rome. Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

United would have wanted to defeat the Catalans at the Wembley Stadium but Pep Guardiola's side had different ideas.

The score was 1-1 at half-time after Wayne Rooney canceled out Pedro's opener but the match as a whole was far from close.

Guardiola's side handed out a passing masterclass as Lionel Messi and David Villa scored to cap off a 3-1 win for their side.

Barcelona's short and incisive passing game proved to be too much for United as Sir Alex admitted after the game.

"Nobody's given us a hiding like that," the United manager said after the final whistle. "In my time as manager, it's the best team I've faced."

#4 Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (6-5 on penalties) - 2008

Manchester United v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Final
Manchester United tasted glory in 2008

The 2008 final in Moscow was an all-English affair between Manchester United and Chelsea and it did not fail to disappoint.

Cristiano Ronaldo who had starred in United's season opened the scoring but Chelsea leveled soon after. Frank Lampard scored an emotional goal in first-half stoppage time which he dedicated to his late father.

The game was an open encounter, with neither side devoid of chances. Magnificently purring on, the all-action contest headed to extra time.

Chelsea struck the woodwork twice and then Didier Drogba managed to get sent off. Ryan Giggs surpassed United all-time appearance record. Michael Essien missed a chance. Carlos Tevez missed a chance. John Terry made a goalline clearance.

Amazingly neither side scored and penalties were needed. Ironically Ronaldo failed to convert his but then Terry slipped and missed his as well. Finally, Edwin van der Sar saved Nicolas Anelka's kick to hand United the title.

Missed chances, red cards, injuries, records broken and a penalty shootout to boot. This game had literally everything. A modern classic.

#3 Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich - 1999

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 98/99 FINALE
Manchester United mounted an amazing comeback

The first 90 minutes of this game did not see anything out of the ordinary. However, the drama that would unfold in stoppage time would more than make up for it.

Mario Basler scored early on to give the Bavarians the lead. The game progressed and either side failed to come up with anything of note. As full-time approached, it looked like treble-chasing United would have had to settle for the double.

But no. Teddy Sheringham poked home from a corner and United had parity. Extra time seemed to be looming but United struck again. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pounced inside the box to score and send the Red Devils into raptures.

Bayern players were stunned into disbelief and could not believe what they had just witnessed.

Ferguson's men had fought till the last minute and had come up with the most dramatic win one could imagine. Heartbreaking for Bayern.

#2 Real Madrid 4-3 Stade de Reims - 1956

Soccer - Reims 1956
Real Madrid won the first ever European final

The first ever European Cup final was played out between Real Madrid and Stade de Reims and it was a classic.

It was a roller coaster of a match and the final outcome did not seem certain until the final whistle actually sounded.

The French side stormed to a quick 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes. Madrid bounced back, as ADi Stefano and Hector Rial scored to level the tie at 2-2. Stade de Reims took the lead again through Michel Hidalgo but the Spanis side had the final say.

Marquitos and Rial scored to change the course of the match yet again and their side held on to win the first ever European Cup.

#1 AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (2-3 on penalties) - 2005

Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard holds
Liverpool won in 2005 in unbelievable circumstances

Arguably the greatest club game ever, Istanbul witnessed something amazing on 25th May 2015.

AC Milan started the game strongly and took the lead through Paolo Maldini. Hernan Crespo took on the scoring baton and scored a brace to put his side 3-0 up at the interval. It all looked done and duster for Liverpool but they had different ideas.

Steven Gerrard flicked home a header to give them life and Vladimir Smicer's rasping drive meant that the comeback was on.

Then Gerrard was fouled in the box and Xabi Alonso stepped up to level the tie. His penalty was saved but he slotted the rebound to complete an astonishing comeback and leave Milan stunned.

In extra time, Jersy Dudek pulled off an incredible double save to deny Andriy Shevchenko and a feeling of 'it is meant to be' began to kick in for Liverpool.

Rafa Benitez's side prevailed 3-2 on penalties to complete one of the most astonishing nights in European history.

Edited by Alan John

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