Sensational comebacks are increasingly a staple of the modern Champions League, and this season they have belonged almost exclusively to Real Madrid.
Los Blancos trailed Manchester City 1-0 heading into the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with Pep Guardiola’s team leading 5-3 on aggregate.
Yet two goals in the space of 91 seconds from Rodrygo forced extra-time, and Carlo Ancelotti’s team set up a meeting with Liverpool in Paris when Karim Benzema converted a penalty to claim a 3-1 win (6-5 on aggregate).
It was the third stunning turnaround Madrid have enjoyed in the knockout stages this campaign, following Benzema’s hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 and Rodrygo’s goal against Chelsea to secure an aggregate win in the quarters last month.
Here’s a few other incredible comebacks to jog your memory.
Real Madrid 3-1 PSG (3-2 agg), 2022
Madrid have done it the hard way this season, as they target a 14th European title.
Not many fancied them to get through against PSG, especially when Kylian Mbappe, who had scored a stunning goal in the first leg in Paris in February, put Mauricio Pochettino’s team ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu with a crisp finish.
Yet Gianluigi Donnarumma’s slack play enabled Benzema to pounce and pull one back, with the striker then scoring twice in two minutes to turn the tie on its head and set Madrid en route to the final.
Barcelona 6-1 PSG (6-5 agg), 2017
Barcelona remain the perpetrators of the most remarkable of all Champions League comebacks, at least in terms of deficit overhauled.
Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive strike for the visitors.
However, two quick Neymar goals – the second a highly controversial penalty after an apparent Suarez dive – levelled the tie at 5-5.
Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck to create a slice of Champions League history – no side had ever turned around a four-goal first-leg deficit before.
Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg, Roma won on away goals), 2018
The boot was on the other foot when Barcelona were dethroned in the Italian capital last year as Roma completed one of the most unlikely turnarounds in quarter-final history.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last eight on away goals after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.
Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca completely fell to pieces.
Savour the moment, Kostas Manolas #UCL @ASRomaEN pic.twitter.com/O1XBQC84Op
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 10, 2018
Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg), 2019
Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Divock Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute.
Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Messi and Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.
Andrew Robertson’s injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.
Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen once more. The Reds went on to beat Tottenham in an all-English final.
THIS TEAM!! pic.twitter.com/J6SwDebVde
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 7, 2019
Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5-3 agg), 2019
Despite their impressive display in their 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Ajax could turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not – he earned a booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra-game suspension from UEFA in the process.
In the absence of their captain, Madrid completely capitulated amid a fearless and thrilling Ajax – the type of which Liverpool might yet be faced with in the final.
Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.
Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone’s free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.
PSG 1-3 Manchester United (3-3 agg, United won on away goals), 2019
It really had been quite the season for upsets in Europe’s premier competition. A day on from Ajax’s thrashing of Madrid, United made history at Parc des Princes.
No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home, and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United’s chances looked slim.
Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat’s equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.
As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot’s shot struck Presnel Kimpembe’s arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager’s job grew louder.
How are we feeling this morning then, #MUFC fans? pic.twitter.com/AfjTontaBq
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 7, 2019
Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (5-4 agg), 2004
Deportivo were among Spain’s major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with AC Milan, they stunned the Italians at home.
Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with Fran Gonzalez – who played for them in the second division in the late 80s and is still their record appearance holder – fittingly scored the fourth to make sure of their passage.
Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.
Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (AET, 3-2 on pens), 2005
That famous night in Istanbul. Liverpool found themselves on the end of a hiding at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final, as Paolo Maldini and a Hernan Crespo brace had the Serie A side 3-0 up.
But the second half proved to be one of the most iconic 45 minutes in Liverpool’s history, with goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso levelling the match up by the hour mark.
Milan then failed to hold their nerve in the penalty shootout, as Jerzy Dudek’s leggy antics in the Liverpool goal helped the Pole outsmart both Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko after Serginho blazed the first kick over, resulting in the Premier League side lifting their fifth European title.
Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, 1999
Possibly the two most dramatic minutes in the history of European club football.
United were trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the 1999 final at Camp Nou, with Mario Basler’s skidding free-kick into the bottom-right corner looking set to be enough for the Bavarian giants to end a 23-year wait for glory in the continent’s top-tier competition.
However, the United of Alex Ferguson’s era could never be discounted until the final whistle, and substitute Teddy Sheringham swept Ryan Giggs’ shot into the bottom corner to bring the scores level in the 91st minute.
Solskjaer, another late substitute and now the man in the United dug-out, avoided the need for extra time by stabbing Sheringham’s header from a David Beckham corner into the roof of the net as United completed an historic treble in astonishing fashion.
Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (AET, 6-4 agg), 2000
A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had Barca in danger of being on the wrong end of a major 1999-00 Champions League upset prior to the Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalans showed their true class.
Tore Andre Flo’s 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia scored seven minutes from the end of regulation to force extra time.
Rivaldo then converted a penalty after Celestine Babayaro was sent off and Patrick Kluivert wrapped things up, crushing Chelsea’s dreams.
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