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Champions League: The 5 best comebacks of the 2018/19 edition

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 23:00 IST

Tottenham
Tottenham's comeback against Ajax was an all-time classic in the Champions League

The 2018/19 Champions League has been perhaps the most exciting edition of the competition since its inauguration back in 1992/93, and while the amazing goals scored by the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as some incredibly exciting games – Manchester City’s 4-3 thriller with Tottenham immediately comes to mind – have been great, the thing fans will likely remember most about this edition will be the wild comebacks produced by numerous teams.

The Champions League has always featured some stirring comebacks, from Liverpool’s fightback against AC Milan in the 2004/05 final to Barcelona overturning Paris St. Germain’s 4-goal lead from the first leg in 2016/17, but this season, in particular, has seen some absolutely incredible results.

Here are the 5 best comebacks from this season’s Champions League.

#5 Ajax vs. Real Madrid – Round of 16

Ajax defeated Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in a classic turnaround
Ajax defeated Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in a classic turnaround

Despite playing some excellent football and drawing twice with Bayern Munich in the group stages, nobody was really giving Ajax a chance of upsetting holders Real Madrid in the Round of 16. After all, their young side – filled largely with Dutch prospects and relative unknowns – seemed massively outgunned in comparison to a Real side that could call upon talents like Toni Kroos, Gareth Bale and Isco.

The first leg at the Johan Cruyff Arena seemed to follow the script, although things could’ve been very different. Nicolas Tagliafico appeared to have headed the Dutch side home following a goalmouth scramble, but the VAR system showed that Dusan Tadic was offside as Tagliafico headed home, and so the goal was disallowed. And so despite performing well, Ajax went down 1-2 thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio.

With Real having two vital away goals in the bank going into the second leg at the Bernabeu, it seemed like Ajax had an insurmountable task ahead of them, but somehow Erik Ten Hag’s young side were equal to it. After just 7 minutes they equalled the tie through Hakim Ziyech, and 11 minutes later David Neres put them ahead and cancelled out the away goals.

Real – looking fragile without captain and defensive lynchpin Sergio Ramos, who was suspended – soon capitulated and let in a third Ajax goal, and although they pulled one back through Asensio with 20 minutes remaining, Lasse Schone sealed the deal just 2 minutes later with a beautiful free-kick.

The result was not only a huge upset, as the holders – who had won the previous three editions of the competition – were dumped out, but it was a huge comeback for Ajax too, who should’ve been dead and buried after their first leg result.

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Published 10 May 2019, 20:13 IST
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