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Five great Champions League comebacks

Lucas Moura fired Spurs into their first Champions League final © AFP / Adrian DENNIS

Paris, France, May 8 – Tottenham followed in Liverpool’s footsteps by pulling off one of the most stunning fightbacks in Champions League history on Wednesday as Lucas Moura’s hat-trick snatched a dramatic away-goals semi-final victory over Ajax.

Spurs trailed 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate at half-time of the second leg, but Moura’s 96th-minute winner sent them into a final against Liverpool — who also came back from three goals down to shock Barcelona on Tuesday — in Madrid on June 1.

Here, AFP Sport looks at five other famous Champions League comebacks:

Barcelona stun PSG

Barcelona overturned a four-goal first-leg deficit to break PSG hearts © AFP/File / PAU BARRENA

Last 16, 2016/17

First leg: Paris Saint-Germain 4 (Di Maria 18, 55 Draxler 40, Cavani 72) Barcelona 0

Return leg: Barcelona 6 (Suarez 3, Kurzawa 40-og, Messi 50-pen, Neymar 88, 90+1-pen, Roberto 90+5) Paris Saint-Germain 1 (Cavani 62)

Barcelona won 6-5 on aggregate

Barcelona were on the right side of history two years ago, becoming the first team to come back from a four-goal first-leg deficit in the Champions League on a dramatic night at the Camp Nou when Neymar punished his future side PSG with two goals.

If PSG’s demolition of Luis Enrique’s Barcelona in Paris was a shock, the fightback was mind-blowing with the crucial last two goals coming in stoppage time.

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Sergi Roberto came off the bench to write himself into Spanish football folklore with Barcelona’s sixth goal in the fifth minute of added time.

“I didn’t know if I was dreaming –- I have never known a noise like that,” said a shell-shocked Roberto after the final whistle.

Barca’s luck runs out in Rome

Greek defender Manolas was the unlikely hero as Roma stunned Barca © AFP/File / LLUIS GENE

Quarter-finals, 2017/18

First leg: Barcelona 4 (De Rossi 38-og, Manolas 55-og, Pique 59, Suarez 87) Roma 1 (Dzeko 80)

Second leg: Roma 3 (Dzeko 6, De Rossi 58-pen, Manolas 82) Barcelona 0

4-4 on aggregate; Roma won on away goals

Barcelona’s luck ran out in dramatic style 12 months after their PSG heroics with Edin Dzeko’s away goal at the Camp Nou proving crucial.

The Bosnia striker struggled to express his joy at Roma’s achievement after his sixth-minute goal in the return game sparked an incredible turnaround by the Italians.

“We did it when definitely nobody believed in us,” said Dzeko.

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There appeared to be no way back for Roma after they were routed in Barcelona.

However, after Dzeko’s early goal, a Daniele De Rossi penalty set the scene for Kostas Manolas’s 82nd-minute header to spark wild celebrations led by Roma president James Pallotta, who jumped into Rome’s Piazza del Popolo fountain.

Liverpool’s night in Istanbul

Dudek saved the decisive penalty as Liverpool staged a famous comeback © AFP/File / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE

Final, 2004/05

Liverpool 3 (Gerrard 54, Smicer 56, Alonso 60-pen) AC Milan 3 (Maldini 1, Crespo 39, 44)

3-3 after extra time; Liverpool won 3-1 on penalties

Liverpool are no strangers to fightbacks in Europe, producing arguably the most staggering in a final against a mighty AC Milan side in Istanbul 14 years ago.

They trailed 3-0 at half-time against the star-studded Italians after Paolo Maldini scored inside a minute and Hernan Crespo’s excellent double. But talismanic captain Steven Gerrard gave his side hope with a header early in the second period, and substitute Vladimir Smicer drilled in two minutes later.

A breathtaking six-minute spell was completed on the hour mark as Xabi Alonso scored the rebound after his own penalty had been saved by Milan goalkeeper Dida.

Rafael Benitez’s underdogs hung on to force a penalty shootout, and Andriy Shevchenko, who had scored the winning spot-kick in the 2003 final against Juventus, saw his effort saved by Jerzy Dudek to confirm Liverpool’s fifth, and most recent, Champions League title.

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Irureta’s miracle

Kaka’s Milan were dumped out in unbelievable fashion by Deportivo © AFP/File / MIGUEL RIOPA

Quarter-finals, 2003/04

First leg: AC Milan 4 (Kaka 45, 49, Shevchenko 46, Pirlo 53) Deportivo La Coruna 1 (Pandiani 11)

Second leg: Deportivo La Coruna 4 (Pandiani 5, Valeron 35, Luque 44, Fran 76) AC Milan 0

Deportivo won 5-4 on aggregate

After his side were trounced 4-1 at the San Siro, Deportivo coach Javier Irureta admitted there was no rational reason to believe in a miracle.

However, his side burst out of the blocks in the second leg, holding a 3-0 lead at half-time thanks to goals from Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque.

Substitute Fran Gonzalez added a fourth with 14 minutes to go and, having prayed for success, Irureta honoured his pre-match promise by taking the pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostela after Deportivo’s unlikely victory.

Di Matteo orchestrates Chelsea escape

Ivanovic scored the extra-time winner as Di Matteo’s Chelsea downed Napoli en route to the title © AFP/File / GLYN KIRK

Last 16, 2011/12

First leg: Napoli 3 (Lavezzi 38, 65, Cavani 45+2) Chelsea 1 (Mata 27)

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Second leg: Chelsea 4 (Drogba 28, Terry 47, Lampard 75-pen, Ivanovic 105) Napoli 1 (Inler 55) – after extra time

Chelsea won 5-4 on aggregate

Chelsea rode the momentum of a stirring last-16 comeback against Napoli to the club’s maiden Champions League title under interim coach Roberto Di Matteo.

Trailing 3-1 from the first leg after two Ezequiel Lavezzi goals and an Edinson Cavani strike, Chelsea sacked Andre Villas-Boas ahead of the return leg. The Blues roared back at Stamford Bridge through efforts from Didier Drogba and John Terry, before Gokhan Inler briefly put the Italians back on top only for a Frank Lampard penalty to force extra time.

Drogba then teed up Branislav Ivanovic to blast home a 105th-minute winner, and Chelsea would go on to beat Bayern Munich on penalties in that season’s final at the Allianz Arena.


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