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Revisiting the 1999 Final and the 10 Most Dramatic Champions League Finals Ever

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2014

Revisiting the 1999 Final and the 10 Most Dramatic Champions League Finals Ever

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    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Manchester United fans have had plenty of nights to forget in recent months, but one that will be forever etched in their memory is May 26th 1999.

    On a balmy evening at the Nou Camp, the Red Devils faced Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final. After just six minutes of action, Mario Basler's free kick curled around Peter Schmeichel into the net. Despite plenty of pressure and attacking from the English side, the Germans held on to their lead until 90 minutes were up, when Bavarian fans in the crowd were already celebrating the trophy they were about to lift.

    Then, an incredible three minutes of play unfolded. With Schmeichel up in the area for a David Beckham corner, Teddy Sheringham managed to poke in a goal to force injury time. Shortly after the restart, before Bayern's players could even catch their breath, United won another corner, which was stabbed home by the Baby-faced Assassin, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

    Bayern had been robbed and Manchester United pulled off one of the most unlikely wins in history, completing a treble-winning season. 

    The unforgettable drama of that evening will provide a quantum of solace for United fans in their current plight, and it inspires our list of the 10 most dramatic European Cup Finals in the Champions League era... 

10. Marseille 1-0 Milan, 1993

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    The first European Cup Final of the Champions League era was contested between Marseille and Milan at the Olympic Stadium in Munich. 

    There were plenty of chances at either end but OM's Ivorian defender Basile Boli bagged the only goal of the game in the 44th minute. The result was somewhat of an upset and represents the first and only time a French team has won the European Cup.

    Soon afterwards, Marseille owner Bernard Tapie was implicated in a match-fixing scandal that saw the club relegated to Division Two, but they were allowed to keep their European title. 

9. Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia, 2000

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    Real Madrid's encounter with Valencia in 2000 wasn't just the first all-Spanish final, but the first one contested between two teams from the same league.

    Tension ran high between the familiar foes, but Los Blancos bagged their eighth European Cup title and their second in three years thanks to a Fernando Morientes header, a superb volley from Steve McManaman and a strike from a tight angle from the legendary Raul. 

8. Real Madrid 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen

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    Two years after their win at the Stade de France, European powerhouse Madrid were back in the final to face German champions Bayer Leverkusen, who making their debut at this stage of the competition. 

    Raul opened the scoring after only eight minutes, but Brazilian centre-back Lucio equalised for the underdogs five minutes later. 

    A very tense affair could have gone either way—with Bayer unafraid to relentlessly attack their Spanish opposition—but Zinedine Zidane made the difference in the 45th minute by scoring one of the Champions League goals of all time.

    The Frenchman connected with a Roberto Carlos cross to score an incredible left-footed volley from the edge of the area. It was a moment truly worthy of the biggest trophy in European football. 

7. Porto 3-0 Monaco, 2004

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    The 2004 final was surprising from the outset, as no one expected to see neither Porto nor Monaco in this game.

    This was a battle between Didier Deschamps' Ligue 1 side and a young, precocious manager named Jose Mourinho, who had made a name for himself with his wild celebrations after eliminating Manchester United in the first knockout round.

    The match remained tense and goalless until the 39th minute when Carlos Alberto broke the deadlock. Deco—playing one of the defining performances of his career—then doubled the advantage before midfielder Dmitri Alenichev finished the game off on the counter attack in the 75th minute. 

6. Bayern Munich 1-1* Valencia, 2001

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    After the heartbreak of defat by Real Madrid in 2000, Valencia made the final again the following year to take on Bayern Munich at the San Siro. This match was a tale of penalties, with every goal coming from 12 yards.

    In the third minute, Valencia went ahead from a Gaizka Mendieta spot kick, but just a few minutes later, the Bavarians were also awarded a penalty, which Mehmet Scholl missed. Bayern were then granted another bite of the penalty cherry in the second half when Amedeo Carboni handled in the area. This time, Stefan Effenberg converted.  

    The nervy game went to extra time and a shootout, which Bayern won 5-4 thanks to Oliver Kahn saving Mauricio Pellegrino's effort. 

5. Ajax 1-1 Juventus, 1997

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    Having beaten Milan in the 1995 final, Louis van Gaal's Ajax were presumably confident when they met Italian opponents Juventus the following year. 

    Fabrizio Ravanelli, however, opened the scoring after 12 minutes, with Finnish midfielder Jari Litmanen equalising just before the break.

    An entertaining second half and extra time brought no further goals, which led to the European Cup's fifth final shootout.

    Edgar Davids (who would join the Old Lady two seasons later) missed the opening penalty and Sonny Silooy faltered too, handing Juve a 4-2 penalty victory and their second European Cup. 

4. Manchester United 1-1* Chelsea

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    In a period when the Premier League Big Four dominated Europe, the first all-English Champions League Final was held between Manchester United and Chelsea, kicking off at 10.45 p.m. local time at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. 

    A Cristiano Ronaldo header opened the scoring, but a Frank Lampard tap-in at the stroke of half-time put things level.

    A high-pace game continued with several close chances and a sending off for Didier Drogba in injury time for slapping Nemanja Vidic. 

    The deadlock led to a tense shootout in the early hours of the morning in Russia, where John Terry famously slipped taking Chelsea's fifth penalty, leaving him in tears. Nicolas Anelka then missed the Blues' final penalty to hand the title to United—but at least the Frenchman had the good grace to blame his miss on manager Avram Grant

3. Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal, 2006

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    Barcelona headed to the Stade de France for the 2006 final knowing they have lost their last appearance in this game 4-0 to a sublime Milan side. The Blaugrana were determined not to lose to Arsenal—the first London side to make the final—and things looked up when Jens Lehmann was dismissed after only eight minutes.

    However, Barca went behind to a Sol Campbell header late in the first half and didn't find an equaliser until substitute Henrik Larsson set up Samuel Eto'o in the 76th minute. A few minutes later, the Swede assisted Juliano Belletti for a dramatic winner. 

     

2. Chelsea 1-1* Bayern Munich

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    Bayern Munich were the victims of outright robbery in the 1999 final, and they somehow managed to repeat history by losing an incredibly dramatic 2012 final to Chelsea—on home soil.

    Die Roten looked like they would score and win for most of the match and finally made a breakthrough via Thomas Muller in the 83rd minute. However, a Didier Drogba header just five minutes later spoiled the party for the Germans as the game went to extra time and penalties.

    The unwritten rules of football state that an English side will always lose to a German one in a shootout, but Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger took some very British spot kicks to hand Chelsea a shocking 4-3 victory on penalties.

    After finishing second in the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup, Bayern were inspired to win everything in their path forever after—a streak they are still upholding. 

1. Liverpool 3-3* Milan, 2005

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    Some may cite Manchester United's epic evening at the Nou Camp as the most dramatic final ever, but Liverpool's incredible night in Istanbul almost certainly eclipses it for excitement and entertainment.

    The Reds went into the dressing room at half time 3-0 down thanks to an early volley from veteran Paolo Maldini and a brace from Hernan Crespo.

    Rafa Benitez must have given the mother of all team talks, as his side came out swinging in the second half in an attack-minded 3-5-3 formation. They ended up pulling off an incredible unlikely comeback thanks to a six-minute period in which Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso evened up the score.

    In the shootout, Serginho, Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko all failed to convert, giving the watching world a masterclass in how to throw away a three-goal lead and the chance to lift your seventh European Cup.   

     

    Follow me on Twitter @RyanJayBailey

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