Arsenal face a near to impossible task when they travel to France to face Monaco in the Champions League Round of 16 return leg. Having put to shambles by Leonardo Jardim’s in the first leg, elimination beckons for the Gunners. Despite falling behind 1-3 at home, they can have some hope as sides have overturned the unlikeliest of ties.
Here are Top 5 comebacks in Champions League History that will make the Gunners faithful optimistic –
Deportivo de La Coruña vs AC Milan (2003-04)
A Kaka inspired AC Milan put Spanish side Deportivo to the sword, as they crushed the Spanish side 4-1 in their own backyard. The Brazilian netted a brace, while Andriy Shevchenko and Andrea Pirlo found the back of t net once. Walter Pandiani’s shocking opener merely proved to be a consolation for the visitors.
Pandiani’s goal proved vital deciding the tie, though. The Uruguayn, along with Albert Luque, toyed with the Milan defence, as the attacking duo scored once each, aiding their side to pull one of the most astounding comebacks in the competition to book a place into the semi-finals.
Liverpool v AC Milan (2004-05)
One of the finest games played ever, Istanbul 2005 goes down as the best finals one could ever witness. The final is still fondly cherished by the Reds faithful, while it was worth forgetting for the opposite fans. First half goals from Kaka, Hernan Crespo and Andriy Shevchenko and had had the travelers from Italy bouncing, with just 45 minutes to see out. Rafa Benitez’s side didn’t give up though. Captain Steven Gerrard gave the Merseysiders a lifeline and pulled one back. Czech Republic forward Vladimír Šmicer scored immediately after Gerrard’s header. The Reds completed a shocking 6 minute comeback when Xabi Alonso’s spot kick which was initially saved by Dida, was somehow tumbled in. The score remained the same till extra time, with Liverpool winning 2–3 on penalties.
AS Monaco v Real Madrid (2003-04)
While Milan thrashed Depor, it was somewhat a similar story in Madrid, with the Galacticos making light work of a lowly fancied Monaco side. They won 4-2 in the first leg, all but qualifying for the semis in search of the La Decima. The return leg was a nightmare.
Raul opened the scoring against the Municipality outfit, further strengthening his sides’ advantage. Ludovic Guily, who earned a move to Real’s fierce rivals Barcelona after that campaign, scored two eye-catching goals; one a low volley and the other an exquisite backheel. Despite the Frenchman’’s double, Fernando Morientes grabbed the whole attention. The on-loan Real Madrid striker, who also scored at the Santiago Bernabeau, scored another which was sandwiched between Ludovic’s double, thus eliminating his parent club.
“It wasn’t revenge, I had to play and beat friends. I am professional,” said the Spanish hitman.
Juventus v Manchester United (1998-99)
Manchester United had somehow managed to keep the tie in balance with a 1-1 draw against the 96′, 97′ and 98′ finalists Juventus. And the Bianconeri stormed into the lead thanks to a Pippo Inzaghi double, putting a foot in to the semi-finals. United’s influential captain, who played arguably his best game in a Manchester United shirt, which Sir Alex Ferguson later described as ‘pounding every blade of grass’, headed in to give the away side some hope. Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole netted dramatically as the Red Devils went on to win the competition, with an even better comeback against Bayern Munich.
Chelsea v Napoli – (2011-12)
Andre Villas-Boas’ torrid time with Chelsea ended was summed up by a 3-1 loss to Napoli in the Champions League. Current PSG pair Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi had Naples dreaming of a progression to the next round. His successor Roberto Di Matteo rang changes, which bore fruit, with ‘the Old Guard’ Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard forcing the tie into extra-time. The Champions League had Chelsea written all over it, as a Branislav Ivanovic winner at the stroke of 105 minutes. The Blues went on to win the cup, the first in their history.
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