Historic Comebacks in European Soccer

Comebacks remind us that anything can happen in soccer! The unpredictability blows us all away-- and that's where all the magic happens.
Historic Comebacks in European Soccer

Last update: 17 December, 2019

Soccer is an intense sport and will always surprise fans with unbelievable matches. Today, we want to talk about the biggest comebacks that are engraved in soccer history for both players and fans alike.

The best comebacks in European soccer

Given the nature of the sport, it’s hard to turn the score around once losing big. And that’s precisely what makes comebacks so exciting, memorable and crazy.

Unlike other sports where the player or team to first reach a certain amount of points wins (such as tennis) or are constantly on the offense (such as basketball), soccer is a sport where teams can be on their defense for nearly the entire match then suddenly strike back for the win.

In our post, we want to remember some of the most historic UEFA Champions League matches in recent years:

1. Barcelona comebacks – PSG (2017)

This exciting match takes the prize: Barcelona is the only team to have every reversed a four-goal deficit.

Here’s how it all went down: Paris Saint Germain won 4-0 in the first leg of the knockout phase tie, leaving Barcelona with a hefty deficit. In the second leg match, Barcelona led 3-0 but all hope seemed lost when Edinson Cavani scored for PSG.

But, Barcelona miraculously stepped up and scored three more goals (’88, ’91 and ’95) to knock out PSG and engrave their feat in soccer history. The final score was an impressive 6-1 for the home team.

2. Liverpool – Milan (2005)

The showdown between Liverpool – Milan just might be the most memorable UEFA Champions League match of all time. Taking place in Istanbul, AC Milan led the match with legendary player Paolo Maldini. Before the first half ended, Hernán Crespo continued to widen the score gap to 3-0.

comebacks ac milan
Image: goal.com

But, Liverpool turned the tables just fifteen minutes in the second half with goals from Gerrard, Smicer and Xabi Alonso. And the rest is history: Liverpool won in shootouts, and in turn, won their fifth Cup.

 3. Comebacks: Liverpool – Barcelona (2019)

The next comeback is fresh in our minds and still pains Barcelona fans at the very thought. With an unstoppable Leo Messi, Barcelona won the first leg at home 3-0. But, Liverpool wasn’t about to give up.

Despite the 1-0 lead that Liverpool held at the beginning of the second leg match, glory still seemed but a dream. But the second half brought a shower of goals— two from Georginio Wijnaldum and another from Origi thanks to a major flaw in Barcelona’s concentration. The unexpected goals surprised the world: Liverpool continued on to the final.

4. Ajax – Tottenham (2019): the most historical semi-final and comebacks

What’s curious about our next table-turner game is that it happened just one day after the Liverpool-Barcelona stunner. Ajax won the first leg 1-0 and had the home advantage for the second to continue to the semi-final.

And it doesn’t end there: they completely controlled the first-half, erasing their opponents off the map with a 2-0 lead. There was no way that Tottenham could pull itself together and score the three goals it desperately needed.

comebacks ajax
Image: El Pais Brasil

But it did: Lucas Moura scored three goals, with the third being in the last moments of the game. The win unleashed a true English victory and set Tottenham to play Liverpool in the final.

5. Manchester United – Bayern Munich (1999)

The Manchester United-Bayern Munich final was another one for the books despite the smaller gap between the final scores. Fans remember it as the “Camp Nou Miracle” because Manchester scored one of its most memorable victories there.

Losing 0-1 to Bayern Munich, things didn’t look good for Manchester United. But in overtime, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned the tables. It was one of the first surprise matches to have ever happened in the new format of the Champions League.

6. Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña – AC Milan: a surprise for the ages

While the teams faced off in the quarter-finals, the match became a legend for Coruña fans forever. The team miraculously knocked out powerful Milan, which defended its title at the time. Even more incredible: they won after having lost the first leg in Italy 4-1.

comebacks coruna
Image: goal.com

The Spanish team picked itself up for the second leg match and made an incredible win: 4-0, canceling their goal deficit all before the second half. At minute-76, Fran González made the goal that would bring Coruña all the glory.

To tie up our list of incredible matches, we also want to include another wonder that happened in 2019 with only a two-goal difference. The teams were PSG and Manchester United; after losing 0-2 at home, Manchester United managed to beat PSG on their turf 3-1.

As you read with us today, the number of these unbelievable matches in European soccer is growing. We’ll never know how they happen. But one thing’s for sure: the most historic comebacks are etched into the memories of soccer fans forever.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.