Five greatest ever knock-out stage Champions League comebacks
To many, the UEFA Champions League’s charm is in the knockout stage. A home game in-front of your fans, and then the away game in the hostility of the opponent’s stadium. In many ways, that is what it makes these nights mythical and special, when you get to say, ‘I was there’ when your team pulled off an unlikely victory in a foreign land.
But, there are those occasions more special than others, when a team that appeared to be down and out in the first leg gathered up their wits and roared back to win the tie during the second leg. We look at five such occasions when teams have defied the odds and done the unthinkable.
#5 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, Chelsea vs Barcelona 2000
First Leg: Chelsea 3-1 Barcelona
Thinking about Chelsea pre-Abramovich is something like looking back to a world bereft of technology when telephones needed wires and computers needed a full room to function in. Anyhow, Chelsea reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and came up against a Barcelona side managed by Louis van Gaal.
Hands down one of the biggest games in their history till then, the Blues rode on the back of Gianfranco Zola’s brilliance and some clinical finishing from Tore André Flo, to earn a three-goal advantage. Barcelona, however, got one back via Luis Figo who was having a wonderful season at the Catalan club.
Second Leg – Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea
In what was one of the most scintillating games of football, Barcelona earned the lead in front of a 98,000 capacity crowd at the Camp Nou via a deflected freekick from Rivaldo which wrong-footed goalkeeper Ed de Goey. Luis Figo soon doubled the scoreline with a wonderful side-foot finish.
In the second half, though, around the 60th-minute mark, Chelsea got back into the game after some high pressing by Zola, and a calm finish by Flo. As the clock kept ticking, and Barcelona running out of time to get a tie-equalising goal, captain Guardiola swung a ball in from the right for Dani Garcia to gracefully back head it past de Goey.
The tie could have been sealed as Patrick Kluivert earned a penalty, but Rivaldo sidefooted it wide. The tie went to extra time, and Barcelona earned another penalty when Figo was fouled in the box by Celestine Babayaro (who was sent off for the offense). This time, Rivaldo made absolutely no mistake as he slotted home. The tie was eventually killed by a poacher’s finish from Kluivert.