10 Memorable Comebacks In UEFA Champions League History

Only five times in the UEFA Champions League’s history has the away team recovered a first-leg deficit. Two of these ties were won on away goals, which is no longer possible as the rule was abolished for the 2021/22 season. 

If Chelsea had overcome their 3-1 first-leg deficit by Real Madrid in the 2021/22 quarter-finals, they would have become only the sixth side to come back from a first-leg defeat at home. 

Despite leading 3-0 at one point in the Spanish capital, the holders eventually succumbed in extra time.

On that note, let’s look at some of the most memorable comebacks during the UCL era. 

  • Barcelona 4-1 Chelsea (2000)

Chelsea had won 3-1 at the Nou Camp, but goals from Luis Figo, Rivaldo (hatrick), and Dani Garca were enough to see the Blaugrana qualify 6-4 on aggregate after extra time. 

  • AS Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid (2004)

Real Madrid were eliminated from the Uefa Champions League after AS Monaco defeated the Galacticos 3-1 at the Stade Louis II. Real Madrid had won 4-2 in the first leg, meaning Monaco qualified on the away goal rule after finishing 5-5 on aggregate. 

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  • PSG 1-3 Manchester United (2019)

Manchester United stunned Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc De Paris, eliminating the French champions on the away goal rule in 2019.

Despite a 3-3 aggregate score, United won the second leg in France with goals from Romelu Lukaku (brace) and Marcus Rashford, allowing them to qualify. 

  • Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (2019)

Ajax Amsterdam stunned Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid with a remarkable comeback. In Amsterdam, Los Merengues had won the opening leg 2-1. The Spanish heavyweights were driven out after a thrilling performance by a young Ajax team. 

  • Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (2012)

On a historic night at the Bridge, a Roberto Di Matteo-led Chelsea side stunned Napoli with a spectacular comeback. 

Chelsea were down 3-1 by Napoli in Italy, but goals from Didier Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard, and Branislav Ivanovic helped Chelsea advance 5-4 on aggregate after extra time. 

  • Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (2004)
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Deportivo La Coruna became the first side in Champions League history to win a quarter-final after coming back from a three-goal deficit. 

Deportivo were undaunted by AC Milan’s 4-1 demolition of their Spanish opponents in Italy, as they romped to a 4-0 triumph over the Italian giants to qualify 5-4 on aggregate. 

  • AS Roma 3-0 Barcelona (2018)

In the first leg at the Nou Camp, Roma were defeated 4-1 by a Barcelona team captained by Lionel Messi. 

Nobody expected Roma to shock the odds, but goals from Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi, and Kostas Manolas ensured Roma’s qualification due to the away goal rule. 

  • Ajax 2-3 Tottenham Hotspurs (2019)

Tottenham Hotspurs were sent to their first Champions League final in 2019 thanks to a magnificent performance by Lucas Moura. 

Ajax had won the first leg 1-0 in London and were leading 2-0 in the second leg’s first half, but a hatrick by Moura propelled Tottenham into their first final, which they lost to Liverpool. 

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  • Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (2019)

After crushing the Spanish giants in the second leg at Anfield, Liverpool eliminated Barcelona from the 2018-19 season. Barcelona had trounced Liverpool 3-0 at the Nou Camp, with Lionel Messi scoring a magnificent free-kick, but the second leg was entirely different. 

Liverpool advanced to the finals thanks to a double from Gini Wijnaldum and Divock Origi. With a win over Tottenham Hotspurs, they won the Uefa Champions League. 

  • Barcelona 6-1 PSG (2017)

Remontada, as it is called, is without a doubt the greatest comeback in Uefa Champions League history. After losing 4-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in France, Barcelona was torn apart. Except for the energetic Barcelona players and fans, everyone had given up hope of a comeback. 

Neymar’s double, one goal apiece from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, and a stoppage-time winner from Sergio Roberto sent Barcelona into the quarter-finals and into a frenzy among their supporters.

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