Footballing comebacks – the source of ultimate joy for one set of fans, and an equal dismay from the others. If there is one lesson this following set of matches teaches us, it is to never be complacent – playing to the whistle can help avoid incredible, and sometimes costly comebacks:
Now it isn’t picking on Milan, but this game was an even bigger comeback against the Italian giants than when they were knocked out of the Champions League the season before this to Deportivo, losing a 3-0 lead to exit 4-0 in Spain.
But the final of the Champions League – that is something else, and could be among the biggest ever. Films have been made about it, if it happened now, no doubt a dramatic documentary would have been produced.
Liverpool came into the game shell-shocked, conceding a goal to Paolo Maldini in the first minute, and Hernan Crespo netting a brace. They were 3-0 down at half-time. The Reds walked on regardless, and after Stephen Gerrard netted in the 54th minute, the belief returned as Milan’s vanished. Goals from Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso forced penalties, and when Andrey Shevchenko saw his shot saved by Jerzy Dudek, the comeback of all comebacks was complete.
Barcelona 4-0 Milan (4-3 Aggregate), 2013
Going to the San Siro in the first knockout round of the Champions League this year, not many people or pundits imagined anything other than a comfortable Barcelona victory, or at worst, a 0-0 draw. The Catalans came back to Spain however trailing 2-0 from the first-leg, leaving a huge task to turnaround. Nobody told Lionel Messi this.
The second-leg, at the Camp Nou, began as it went on, with Messi netting a spectacular opener from outside the area, into the top corner. And the onslaught continued, as an angered Barcelona retaliated against a side that had the rare audacity to beat them. David Villa, Messi again, and Jordi Alba helped Barcelona ran out comfortable 4-0 winners, 4-3 on aggregate.
Tottenham 3-4 Manchester City, 2004
A match this writer was in attendance for, and a collapse that typified the spurs side of the time. The FA Cup fourth round tie veered in favour of Tottenham after just two minutes when Ledley King scored with a well placed shot, and after Robbie Keane and Christian Ziege made it 3-0 at half-time, the tie looked done and dusted. Spurs fans could hardly contain their joy as the icing on the cake, a half-time red card for Man City’s Joey Barton, for dissent, was brandished.
But 10-man City were not finished. An early second-half goal for Sylvain Distin was doubled by Paul Bosvelt with 20 minutes left. The nerves began to show in the Spurs defence, and Sean Wright-Phillips netted the equaliser on 80 minutes. The comeback was complete as Jonathan Mackem rose to head home City’s winner in the 90th minute, sending Spurs out of the FA Cup in the most dramatic of manners.
Skjold Birkerod 1-1 Frem, 2012
Whilst not maybe one of the more high-profile of comebacks, this one comes in the form of a quite unbelievable last-minute equaliser. Danish second division east side Frem, were 1-0 down to Skjold Birkerod as the 93rd minute approaches. The nerves weren’t showing for goalkeeper Jakob Kohler, who came up for a corner, and netted an unlikely overhead kick. Cue scenes of jubilation on the streets of Copenhagen.
Germany 4-4 Sweden, 2012
In qualifying for Brazil 2014, Germany topped the group come October, with opponents Sweden in second. While a tight game was expected, it seemed Germany had no intention of limiting their grip on first position.
Two opening goals from Miroslav Klose were added to by Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil, to give the Germans a 4-0 half-time lead. Incredibly, this wasn’t enough.
In the second-half, Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired an outstanding comeback, netting the first, and instrumental as Mikael Lustig, Tobias Sana made it 4-3. In the 93rd minute, it was complete, as Rasmus Elm helped Sweden to a four goal comeback, a feat never achieved a against Germany before.
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