Since the European Cup was renamed the Champions League in 1992, it has continued to deliver great drama, and football of the highest quality. With an unprecedented all-Madrid final coming up on Saturday, here is a look at the most dramatic games to have decided Europe’s premier competition:
Sir Alex Ferguson finally claimed the Champions League medal in 1999 as Manchester United secured the treble in the most dramatic of circumstances. A goal down for so long against Bayern Munich, it looked all over until Teddy Sheringham equalised with a low shot in stoppage time.
And Man Utd still had time to score the winner, as Ole Gunner Solskjaer stabbed the ball into the roof of the net to complete an astonishing comeback victory which will forever be remembered.
2002 – Real Madrid 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Real Madrid became European champions for the ninth time as Zinedine Zidane’s sensational strike saw them triumph over Bayer Leverkusen, who had defeated Liverpool and Manchester United en route the final. Lucio had replied to Raul’s early goal to make it 1-1 after just 13 minutes, before Zidane had the final say, with a goal worthy of winning any final.
2005 – Milan 3-3 Liverpool (Liverpool win 3-2 on pens)
An amazing evening in Istanbul as Liverpool claimed their fifth victory in Europe’s premier competition. Three goals down at half-time after Hernan Crespo’s brace had added to Paulo Maldini’s first minute goal, Liverpool looked down and out with a superior Milan side in complete control.
Immense spirit helped Liverpool launch a magnificent six minute fight-back, as goals from captain Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer – on his final Reds appearance – and Xabi Alonso made it 3-3. The match eventually went to penalties, and Jerzy Dudek was the hero for Liverpool, making the decisive save from Andriy Shevchenko to leave Milan shell-shocked.
2008 – Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (Man Utd win 7-6 on pens)
The first, and thus far the only, all English final went the way of Manchester United, but Chelsea were inches away from claiming their maiden victory in the competition. John Terry slipped as he took what would have been the winning penalty in the shootout, and that proved the pivotal moment as Man Utd went on to take the title.
In normal time, Cristiano Ronaldo’s header had given the Premier League champions the lead in soggy Moscow, only for Frank Lampard to equalise shortly before half-time. In a competitive, and often full-blooded affair, Didier Drogba was sent off for Chelsea in extra time after striking Nemanja Vidic.
2013 – Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
Wembley was the venue for an all German final in May, and Arjen Robben’s late goal for Bayern Munich saw off Bundesliga rivals Dortmund after Ilkay Gundogen’s penalty had cancelled out Mario Mandzukic’s opener. A great spectacle, it is arguably the highest quality final seen in the Champions League era in terms of the football played by both sides.
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