If you are not a fan of the Champions League, you became one if you witnessed the incredible Real Madrid comeback against Manchester City last Wednesday. The 13-time winners were virtually out, down two goals on aggregate with minutes to go. Then, a miracle happened, as Rodrygo scored two past Ederson and got the game to extra-time. The mentally drained City players could not muster up a goal and a Karim Benzema penalty in the 95th minute of extra time finished the job Rodrygo started. In the light of that miracle, we list the three greatest Champions League comebacks of all time.
Greatest Champions League comebacks of all time
3. liverpool-Barcelona, 2018-19 semifinal
There are two iconic moments from this one. One is a moment of pure happiness for Liverpool fans, when Trent Alexander-Arnold took a corner quickly and found Divock Origi for the fourth and final goal of the comeback. The other is a moment of despair for Barcelona fans, as Ousmane Dembele missed an absolute sitter in the 96th minute of the first game, a goal which would make it 4-0 in the first leg for Barcelona. The Champions League is a competition where moments and bits are everything and this tie proves it better than anything else.
There are a ton of comebacks that could have made this list, but the reason why this one is on here is because of what happened afterward. Liverpool went on to win the Champions League that year, beating Tottenham in the final 2-0. Barcelona, on the other hand, never really recovered from this. It happened to them twice in a row, as a year before this game, Roma came back after losing the first leg 4-1. While that comeback was epic, this one absolutely killed Barcelona fans who were hoping for another Champions League title with Lionel Messi. Next year, it was an 8-2 rout by Bayern Munich that killed them off, but it all started on this magical night at Anfield.
2. Real Madrid-Man City, 2021-22 semifinal
There is no magical Champions League comebacks list without this one – it was the definition of unbelievable. The beauty of this comeback is that it was a highly competitive game in both legs. The first one at the Etihad ended 4-3, with Manchester City likely unhappy they only scored four. It all looked bleak for Real Madrid as this game was approaching. City was the better team in the first game and generally looked incredible for the entire year. Riyad Mahrez scoring in the 72nd minute likely sealed the deal for most people watching the game at home, but this Real Madrid squad does not give up. What came around and after the 90th minute was simply mesmerizing to watch.
Rodrygo, a 21-year-old Brazilian prospect, found the net twice in two minutes to get the game to extra time. There, Ruben Dias fouled Karim Benzema who converted a penalty to get Real Madrid into their 17th Champions League final, the most in the history of the competition. What made this comeback even better is the fact that Real Madrid did this in the previous two rounds as well, coming back from two goals down versus PSG and scoring two past Chelsea after falling behind 3-0 at home in the second leg. If they manage to win the final, it would be even better, but this is an iconic one and it is capped by one of the best comebacks in Champions League history. However, it cannot be the best one as that position is likely reserved forever.
1. Liverpool-Milan, 2004-05 final
There are absolutely no words that will ever come close to explaining how amazing this comeback was. Being 3-0 down in a Champions League final is usually a sign that the game is over. If those three goals are in the first half, that means that the losing team has to suffer another 45 minutes chasing a scoreline almost impossible to catch. Yet, the 2005 Liverpool squad gave us a reason to believe in winning even if it seems unlikely. AC Milan, the Italian juggernauts, were looking to get their only major trophy that year and with Paolo Maldini’s goal in the first minute, combined with a Hernan Crespo double in just five minutes at the end of the half, it looked to be done.
However, Liverpool took just six minutes, from the 54th until the 60th, to turn it around. Steven Gerrard scored a header, then Vladimir Smicer struck the ball in a wonderful way to put it past Dida, and Xabi Alonso scored a rebound of his own penalty miss to make it 3-3, rounding off the biggest comeback in Champions League history. It is entirely true that Liverpool won on penalties, but scoring three after falling behind 3-0 is simply iconic, and that Istanbul game will forever be etched in the memory of all fans, especially those who support this iconic English club.