International Football

Greatest Come-from-Behind Wins in World Football History

Daniel EdwardsFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2013

Greatest Come-from-Behind Wins in World Football History

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    In football, there is no such thing as a lost cause. Some of the most memorable matches in history have been inspired by a team refusing to lie down and take defeat, fighting back to triumph in the most heroic of fashions. 

    Such classics go down in the history books as more evidence for what makes football such a compelling, unpredictable sport. 

    Looking over the last 100 years of the game, the following are five of the greatest comebacks ever witnessed, across both club and international football.   

Blackpool 4-3 Bolton, 1953 FA Cup Final

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    Very few matches are touched so profoundly by one player that they become forever known for that individual. The "Matthews Final" of 1953, however, was one of those occasions; and, strangely, it had nothing to do with the player who netted the first ever hat-trick in an FA Cup decider. 

    At 38 years old and with two losing appearances at the English showpiece to his name, 1953 would surely be Stanley Matthews' last attempt at cup glory.

    Things started badly for the wing wizard and his Blackpool team, though, when the great Nat Lofthouse put Bolton into an early lead. 

    However, thanks to a virtuoso performance from Matthews and three goals from Stan Mortensen, Blackpool fought back from 1-0 and 3-1 down to go into the final minutes tied.

    Having set up two of his centre-forward's strikes, Matthews had one ace left up his sleeve: Deep into injury time, his cross found Bill Perry, who converted the winner and capped one of domestic English football's greatest fightbacks.   

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, 1999 Champions League Final

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    Manchester United fans had been put through the emotional wringer on their way to the Champions League final in 1999 after an agonising victory over Juventus in the semi-final. However, in order to win Europe's most important club title for the first time in over 20 years, the side would have to dig deep once more. 

    Mario Basler's delicate free-kick after just six minutes had put Bayern into the lead in the Camp Nou, and for the vast majority of the remaining 90, the Red Devils had not been able to penetrate a stout defence. Two inspired substitutions by Alex Ferguson, however, would change the course of history. 

    Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were both thrown on in the final minutes, and the former struck with an instinctive finish just as regulation time had expired. Extra time looked inevitable, but Solskjaer had other ideas: The Norwegian poked home with 92 minutes played to seal an incredible comeback win.  

Liverpool 3-3 Milan, 2005 Champions League Final

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    Liverpool fans have a history of celebrating European glory. The success of the side captained by Steven Gerrard in 2005, however, delivered the club a Champions League title with almost fairytale suspense and excitement. 

    Facing off in the final against Italian giants Milan, the Reds endured a nightmare start which saw them fall three goals behind at the interval. However, in the second half, a new Liverpool entered to begin one of football's most impressive comebacks. 

    Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso levelled proceedings, before Jerzy Dudek made himself the hero by saving from the usually deadly Andrea Pirlo and Andrei Shevchenko to seal a penalty shootout victory—the club's fifth title in the competition.  

Hungary 2-3 West Germany, 1954 World Cup Final

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    The 1954 Hungary side, fired by talents such as Ferenc Puskas, Nandor Hidegkuti and Sandor Kocsis, were overwhelming favourites to win the World Cup. Even against the strong West Germany, previous results such as a 6-3 demolition of England the previous year marked out the Magnificent Magyars as the team to beat. 

    In the final, that prophecy appeared to be coming true when Puskas and Zoltan Czibor put Hungary 2-0 ahead in the first eight minutes. However, the Germans were unfazed, and Max Morlock cut the deficit moments later

    The rest of the game belonged to legendary striker Helmut "Der Boss" Rahn. An equaliser after 18 minutes had the favourites reeling, and the comeback was completed six minutes from the end.

    A German side had won the world's premier competition for the first time in their history—and it wasn't to be the last.

Brazil 1-2 Uruguay, 1950 World Cup Final

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    More than 60 years later, the 1950 World Cup final is etched into the psyche of every Brazilian and Uruguayan football fan. Mention the word "Maracanazo," and you are guaranteed to be greeted with either a joyful grin or a mournful grimace as the memory stays as fresh as it was in the first post-war World Cup. 

    Overwhelming favourites on home soil, Brazil took the lead through Friaca in front of an estimated 200,000 people who had crammed into the new Maracana stadium. An early edition of Brazilian paper O Mundo, as told by CNN, had jumped the gun and printed "These are the world champions" with a picture of the hosts—words that would came back to haunt them. 

    Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia dragged the Celeste back into the match with two of the most famous goals in Uruguay's history, securing the nation's second World Cup title and condemning Brazil to their most painful defeat.  

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