Liverpool and 20 Dramatic Collapses in World Football
Liverpool's Premier League title bid is almost over after a dramatic late collapse against Crystal Palace on Monday night, as the Reds squandered a three-goal lead in the final 12 minutes to draw 3-3.
Despite going top of the table with a game to play, the single point is not likely to be enough to aid the title challenge, with Manchester City having a game in hand to be played during the week.
The Reds aren't the first team to succumb to a comeback in such unthinkable fashion, nor will they be the last...not that it will be helping how Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and co. are feeling right now. Here are 20 of the biggest and most dramatic cave-ins by teams down the years.
Liverpool, 3-3 vs Crystal Palace
We'll start with the most recent.
Liverpool were 3-0 up with less than a quarter of an hour to go, after Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez had all scored. Three goals and three points would have been a very good result at Palace and anything other than a win looked beyond comprehension at that point.
However, a deflected Damien Delaney strike and two late Dwight Gayle goals ruined the Reds' evening and ensured they were relying on an in-form Manchester City to lose a match heading into the final week of the season.
AC Milan, 3-3 vs Liverpool
Liverpool fans have their own good memories of a comeback from 3-0 down.
AC Milan were 3-0 up and cruising at half-time in the final of the UEFA Champions League in 2005, after Kaka and Hernan Crespo in particular had ripped through the Liverpool defence.
In the space of six minutes though, Milan completely threw away their lead, conceding from a cross, a long-range shot and a penalty (Gerrard, Smicer, Alonso). They then missed a few chances to re-take the lead and eventually lost the final on penalties.
Arsenal, 4-4 vs Newcastle
Arsenal went to Newcastle United late in the 2010-11 season, looking good for a title run and chasing trophies elsewhere too.
Going 4-0 up by half-time in the game merely made it look as though they were en route to another three points, before an even bigger collapse than Liverpool's on Monday.
Abou Diaby got sent off, Arsenal conceded two penalties and even Leon Best scored a goal against them, before Cheik Tiote leathered in an unstoppable long-range shot with three minutes to go. Final score, 4-4.
Reading, 5-7 vs Arsenal
On the flip side for the Gunners, they saw themselves facing a 4-0 deficit against strugglers Reading in a League Cup game in 2012.
Reading were in the relegation zone in the Premier League at the time of the match, but they scarcely looked like that team after taking a 4-0 lead in less than 40 minutes. They conceded one before half-time though, and another three in the second half to go to extra time.
Reading went behind, drew level...and then collapsed a second time to lose 7-5 in extra time.
Tottenham Hotspur, 3-5 vs Manchester United
Still in the Premier League, Tottenham cruised into a 3-0 lead against Manchester United back in 2001...but being several goals up against United does funny things to some sides.
Spurs came out a completely different side after the break, unable to pass or challenge, and gifted up no less than five goals.
A 5-3 defeat to United doesn't sound awful, but being three goals up with one half of football to play...opportunity missed.
Hungary, 2-3 vs West Germany
During the 1954 World Cup, Hungary beat West Germany 8-3 during the group stage.
Fast forward to the final and after 10 minutes, Hungary led 2-0 and it looked as though a repeat might be on the cards.
However, the Hungarian side couldn't match that early start and West Germany had pulled back level by the 20-minute mark, before going on to overcome their opponents late on. Of all the games to collapse in, Hungary did it in the World Cup final.
Tottenham Hotspur, 3-4 vs Manchester City
Spurs have a bit of a history of succumbing to pressure and showed that side of their game in an FA Cup match in 2004.
They were 3-0 up at half-time against Manchester City, who had Joey Barton sent-off at the break too, yet still managed to throw away their lead and their progression in the tournament, conceding four times in the second 45 minutes and losing 4-3 as a result.
Basel, 3-4 vs Middlesbrough
A two-legged collapse now, as Basel gave up their UEFA Cup would-be-semi-final spot with something of a whimper.
They led 1-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate, having won the first leg by two goals, meaning opponents Middlesbrough had to score four to progress.
Basel, of course, offered Boro the chance to do exactly that, conceding four times in the rest of the game, with the last two coming inside the final 12 minutes.
Steaua Bucharest, 3-4 vs Middlesbrough
Into the semi-finals of that 2006 UEFA Cup, and Boro made another side feel the same way Basel did.
Steaua Bucharest won the first leg 1-0, then went 2-0 up early on in the second for another three-goal advantage. With a UEFA Cup final place at stake there was no shortage of incentive to defend at least reasonably stoutly for the remaining 65 minutes...but the inevitable collapse did indeed ensue.
Steaua shipped in four goals in that time, with the winner coming just two minutes from time.
Bayern Munich, 1-2 vs Manchester United
Not as many goals in this collapse, but certainly in a much shorter time frame and with an awful lot at stake.
The 1999 Champions League final saw Bayern Munich 1-0 up and dominating the match, before they caved in with devastating consequence.
They conceded twice in injury time to Manchester United, losing 2-1 when it seemed for all the world that the trophy was theirs for the taking just a handful of minutes earlier.
Arsenal, 2-3 vs Wigan Athletic
Arsenal blew their title hopes in 2010 after they crumbled and collapsed in the last 10 minutes of a league match against relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic.
The Gunners were two goals to the good and would have gone just three points behind leaders Chelsea with a win—but contrived to lose the match after conceding three times.
Ben Watson, Titus Bramble and an injury-time thunderbolt from Charles N'Zogbia oversaw the collapse and ended Arsenal's championship fight.
Leeds United, 4-6 vs Preston North End
Leeds United showed considerable resolve to recover from going an early goal down to Preston North End to roar into a 4-1 first-half lead, back in 2010 in the Championship.
However, they showed even more considerable amounts of vulnerability and panic in allowing Preston to not just get back in the game, but steamroller them in the second half and take the points.
The away side pulled one back before the break and then Leeds utterly collapsed, shipping four more in the second 45 and losing 6-4 in the end.
Chelsea, 2-3 vs Arsenal
Chelsea's turn to be reminded of a late collapse now, in a game against big rivals Arsenal back in 1999.
The home side were 2-0 up by the break and looking comfortable for the victory for most of the game. With 15 minutes to go they still led by the same scoreline, but then failed entirely to cope with Nwankwo Kanu's late impact.
Chelsea let Kanu in twice, and twice he scored. Then, in injury time, the forward beat the goalkeeper Ed de Goey to the ball and chipped in a shot from a narrow angle, over the heads of the defenders, and Chelsea's collapse was complete—they lost 3-2.
Angola, 4-4 vs Mali
In the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, the first group stage match saw Angola play against Mali.
Two goals from Flavio and a pair of penalties put Angola into a commanding 4-0 lead with a quarter of an hour remaining, before one of the biggest collapses in competitive international football ensued.
Seydou Keita stabbed home with 12 minutes left for 4-1, but even then Angola repelled the danger until the 87th minute. A quite phenomenally disastrous spell of kamikaze defending saw the Angoloans ship three more goals in the final three minutes plus injury time, throwing away the win and drawing 4-4.
Portugal Under 17s, 5-5 vs Cameroon Under 17s
Fluctuations in form from young players is nothing new or unexpected, but even so, Portugal's Under-17s managed to do it to rather an extreme measure in their 2003 World Cup.
They took a 5-0 lead against Cameroon after less than an hour of play—Vieirinha's long strange strike was the first—and still held that lead with 20 minutes left, but collapsed in almost unthinkable fashion in the time which remained.
Cameroon scored three in six minutes, made it 5-4 with two minutes left on the clock and then scored a stoppage time equaliser—and then hit the woodwork after that as they almost turned a crushing defeat into victory. Portugal were left to pick up the pieces of a 5-5 draw.
AC Milan, 4-5 vs Deportivo La Coruña
Another two-legged collapse now, with AC Milan utterly throwing away a commanding lead over Spanish side Deportivo La Coruña in the 2003-04 Champions League quarter-finals.
Milan battered Depor 4-1 in the first leg, before travelling to Spain in confident mood that a semi-final with Porto was about to be confirmed.
Instead, they conceded a goal early on to hand the initiative to Depor, then failed to reorganise themselves and were 3-0 down by half-time. A late goal from Fran sealed a spectacular 4-0 defeat for AC Milan, who went out 5-4 on aggregate.
North Korea, 3-5 vs Portugal
The 1966 World Cup finals saw North Korea make unexpected progress to the knock-outs, the first ever Asian side to do so.
They looked good for a semi-final spot too, initially, leading Portugal 3-0 in the quarters after just 25 minutes.
However, Eusebio and co. were a formidable side of their own and North Korea quailed and crumbled once the legendary forward got his nation back in the game. North Korea eventually conceded four times to Eusebio, twice from the penalty spot, before a late Jose Augusto strike made the final score 5-3.
North Korea have only once since made it to the World Cup finals, and did not progress beyond the group stages then.
England, 2-3 vs West Germany
That '66 World Cup was won on home turf by England, beating West Germany in the final in extra time, and the next edition in 1970 saw the two nations meet again at the quarter-final stage.
England took a commanding 2-0 lead shortly after half time and were looking good for a last-four place, but couldn't keep their rivals at bay and collapsed somewhat in the second half.
After a Franz Beckenbauer goal, England conceded an equaliser with only eight minutes left and eventually went out 3-2 after extra time.
France, 4-5 vs Yugoslavia
The very first European Championships was held in France in 1970, with the home side hoping to claim the first title.
France played Yugoslavia in the semi-finals and, despite going a goal behind initially, roared back to lead 3-1. They saw off a mini-comeback from the Yugoslavs to eventually go 4-2 ahead with 15 minutes left on the clock—before a late collapse saw Yugoslavia score three times in four minutes.
A 5-4 defeat meant France were eliminated on home soil, while Yugoslavia went on to lose in the final.
Manchester United, 3-3 vs Liverpool
We finish up with an early Premier League match from the 1993-94 season, with Manchester United collapsing in definitely-not-trademark fashion.
United travelled to rivals Liverpool and went 3-0 up at Anfield inside 24 minutes, with the home side having no response to the onslaught.
However, United's dominance didn't last and they unbelievably gave up three goals; the first came immediately after United's third, the second before half-time and the equaliser, from Neil Ruddock, came just 10 minutes from time. A 3-3 draw and one of the memorable North-West derby matches, made all the more spectacular by United's dramatic collapse.