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Champions League: The Ten Most Unforgetable Comebacks

Andrew JordanSenior Writer IFebruary 14, 2012

Champions League: The Ten Most Unforgetable Comebacks

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    After its annual winter break, the Champions League once again returns with some incredible matchups that feature 16 of the best sides in Europe.

    The Champions League brings out some of the greatest features of football, including some incredible comebacks. People always remember the comebacks made by the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United in finals during recent years, yet there are some other finals that deserve recognition.

    Here are the ten most memorable comebacks in the history of the UEFA Champions League era.

No. 10 Manchester United vs AC Milan (2007 Semifinal)

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    Manchester United 3 AC Milan 3

    Manchester United got into the Champions League semifinal for the first time since 2002 and were paired up against a Milan side that had reached the semifinal for the third time in five years.

    United got an early goal off a calamitous corner, yet Milan were able to equalize and eventually take the lead thanks in part to Kaka's two incredible goals. Untied responded before the hour mark with a Wayne Rooney goal.

    In the first minute of stoppage time, Rooney was able to score, completing a great comeback from an injured United side. Milan were able to reach and eventually win the final, but United certainly played great in this tie.

No. 9 Liverpool vs Olympiakos (2004 Group Stage)

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    Liverpool 3 Olympiakos 1

    Liverpool went into their final group stage match against Olympiakos knowing that they were going to need at least a two-goal victory in order to reach the knockout stage. At the start of the match, Olympiakos were up by three points over Liverpool and held a goal differential over their opponents.

    Olympiakos went up 1-0 early, yet Liverpool got goals from Sinama Pongolle and Neil Mellor in order to get within a goal of reaching the knockout stage.

    In the 86th minute, Gerrard banged in a shot from around 25 yards out, elating Anfield and starting Liverpool's magical run that resulted in a memorable Champions League final appearance in Istanbul.

No. 8 Manchester United vs Real Madrid (2003 Quarterfinal)

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    Manchester United 4 Real Madrid 3

    It was one of the most highly-anticipated matchups in Champions League history, and after Real Madrid won the first leg 3-1, Real Madrid appeared likely to advance into the semifinals.

    Real Madrid were able to advance into the semifinal, and their second leg matchup at Old Trafford turned into one of the Champions League greatest matches ever.

    With David Beckham starting on the bench, Real Madrid came out firing. Ronaldo was able to register a hat trick at the Theatre of Dreams and left the pitch to a standing ovation.

    Beckham came into the match late and scored two goals to give United a 4-3 victory. Even though United lost 6-5 on aggregate, the fans certainly left knowing they saw one of the greatest football matches in Champions League history.

No. 7 Werder Bremen vs Anderlecht (1993 Group Stage)

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    Werder Breman 5 Anderlecht 3

    In the 1993 group stage, both Werder Bermen and Anderlecht failed to advance into the knockout stage. Yet the most entertaining match of the group stage came between these two sides.

    In the first 70 minutes of the match, Anderlecht held a 3-0 lead and appeared to have the game secured. But Bremen never gave up and got goals from Wynton Rufer, Rune Bratseth and Bernd Hobsch to tie the match.

    In the dying minutes of the match, Marco Bode and Rufter each scored to give Breman a memorable 5-3 victory.

No. 6 Monaco vs Real Madrid (2004 Quarterfinal)

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    Monaco 3 Real Madrid 1

    This tie was supposed to be a formality. After winning 4-2 at the Bernabeu during the first leg, Real Madrid were expected to once again dominate Monaco and advance into a semifinal matchup against Chelsea.

    Madrid held an early 5-2 aggregate lead when Raul scored in the 36th minute, yet Monaco were able to equalize through Ludovic Giuly right before halftime.

    The second half saw Fernando Morientes (who was on loan with Monaco from Real Madrid) score to make the score 2-1. Giuly scored again for Monaco just after the hour mark and Monaco were able to hold onto a 3-1 victory.

    The aggregate score ended up being 5-5, but Monaco were able to win based on away goals.

No. 5 Deportivo La Coruña vs AC Milan (2004 Quarterfinal)

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    Deportivo La Coruña 4 AC Milan 0

    After AC Milan won the first leg 4-1 at the San Siro, the previous winners of the Champions League looked like they were going to once again reach the semifinals against Porto.

    Yet something dramatic happened along the way. Deportivo came out firing and were able to pull out a massive upset in the knockout stage.

    This started with an early goal from Walter Pandiani, and then goals from Juan Carlos Valerón and Albert Luque put the Spanish side up 3-0 at the break. Deportivo took a lead in away goals after their massive first half.

    Deportivo were able to get another goal from Fran to win 4-0 and reach the semifinals. Deportivo's great run ended against a Jose Mourinho-led Porto side that would win the Champions League.

No. 4 Deportivo La Coruña vs Paris Saint-Germain (2000 Second Group Stage)

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    Deportivo La Coruña 4 Paris Saint-Germain 3

    In what was the second-to-last year of the secondary group stage in the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain found themselves up 3-0 thanks to a brace from Jerome Leroy and a Jay-Jay Okocha goal. It seemed that PSG were going to keep their hopes of advancing further in Europe alive.

    However, Deportivo were able to come back thanks to a hat trick from Walter Pandiani along with a Diego Tristán goal in the final half an hour.

    Deportivo were able to advance to the quarterfinals; they lost to Leeds United.

No. 3 Manchester United vs Juventus (1999 Semifinal)

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    Manchester United 3 Juventus 2

    After the first leg ended in a 1-1 score, Manchester United knew that only a win or a draw with at least two goals scored was going to send them to Barcelona for the final.

    Juventus showed no mercy and went up 2-0 early by means of a brace from Filippo Inzaghi. Shortly afterward, Roy Keane was shown a yellow card. This meant that he was going to miss the final—should United qualify for the match.

    This caused Keane to put in one of the greatest individual performances ever by a Manchester United player. Keane first scored off of a header to get United within a goal of tying the match, and his play led to two more goals from Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole to give United an inspiring 3-2 victory.

    When speaking of Keane's display, Sir Alex Ferguson said this: "The minute he was booked and out of the final he seemed to redouble his efforts to get the team there. It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field."

No. 2 Manchester United vs Bayern Munich (1999 Final)

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    Manchester United 2 Bayern Munich 1

    The 1999 Champions League final saw the two best sides in Europe play in a final that will be remembered forever.

    Manchester United came into the final knowing that the Champions League was the only trophy left needed to complete their treble. Bayern Munich would have completed a double of the Bundesliga and the Champions League if they were able to win the final. Also, Bayern could have completed their own treble if they won the DFB-Pokal that was to be played shortly after the Champions League final.

    Bayern were able to take an early lead by means of a Mario Basler free kick. This lead was unable to get extended however, due to Bayern hitting the post multiple times on plays that had beaten the United defense.

    With time running out, Man United needed a miracle and they were given one. Off of a corner with every United player forward, Ryan Giggs' shot was veering wide before substitute Teddy Sheringham was able to score to tie the match.

    Just over a minute later, United won another corner, and this time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was able to lift a redirection from Sheringham past Oliver Kahn to give United the improbable 2-1 lead and their first European Cup since 1968.

    Manchester United's treble of the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup is the only time that any English club has won all three trophies in one season.

No. 1 Liverpool vs AC Milan (2005 Final)

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    Liverpool 3 AC Milan 3. Liverpool wins on penalties 3-2.

    It is referred to as the "Miracle of Istanbul" by Liverpool fans and certainly was one of the most amazing comebacks in the Champions League and world football history.

    AC Milan were the better side going into the final. They had won the Champions League two years earlier and had some of the world's best players. Meanwhile, Liverpool had finished fifth in the Premier League and needed to win the competition in order to stay in the Champions League for the 2005-06 campaign.

    Milan took an early lead through a Paolo Maldini goal (the quickest goal in any European cup final), and a brace from Hernán Crespo made it appear that the game was over at the half.

    Yet Liverpool remained resilient. Goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimír Šmicer and Xabi Alonso tied the game 15 minutes into the second half, resulting in a 3-3 tie that lasted until the end of regular time.

    After no goals were scored in extra time (thanks in large part to some incredible goalkeeping from Jerzy Dudek), the final went to penalties.

    Liverpool were able to win 3-2 on spot kicks to claim their fifth European Cup and complete a comeback for the ages.

    Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan

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