25 Best Matches of the 2013/14 Champions League Season

Max Munton@thisisanfieldLiverpool CorrespondentMay 28, 2014

25 Best Matches of the 2013/14 Champions League Season

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    The 2013-14 UEFA Champions League season did not disappoint yet again, with enthralling drama, twists, turns, aggression and passion.

    There were some memorable games, goals and players on display in Europe's elite competition on the way to Real Madrid's famous 10th European Cup win.

    Who can forget Real rolling over Galatsaray in Turkey, Mohamed Salah breaking Chelsea hearts not once, but twice, Celtic's heroics over Ajax and the sizzling form of Diego Costa.

    Here, we attempt to rank the best matches of the tournament.

    The criteria for the selection and ranking is based on a number of factors, most notably the entertainment value of the game itself and the magnitude of its consequences.

25. Atletico Madrid 0-0 Chelsea

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    It wasn't the most beautiful of European matches to watch, but Chelsea's strong defensive performance during the Champions League semi-final first leg had looked to give Jose Mourinho's men one foot in the final.

    Of course, that was only half the story.

24. Manchester United 4-2 Bayer Leverkusen

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    A significant result and moment of relief for Manchester United boss David Moyes as they put their poor start to the season domestically behind them to record a winning start in the Champions League group stage.

    Wayne Rooney enjoyed an outstanding match, scoring twice as United sunk the Germans. Rooney also recorded his 200th goal in a United shirt.

23. Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Real Sociedad

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    Leverkusen got their Champions League campaign back on track thanks to a majestic last-minute free-kick winner from Jens Hegeler.

    Earlier, Simon Rolfes' opener for the Germans had been cancelled out by a Carlos Vela equaliser for Sociedad.

22. Galatasaray 1-6 Real Madrid

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    Real Madrid set their mark on the Champions League season from the off with a stunning 6-1 victory over lowly Galatasaray in Turkey.

    Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a magnificent hat-trick, between goals from Isco and Karim Benzema.

21. Juventus 2-2 Real Madrid

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    A lively and heated match in Turin saw Juventus take the lead against Real Madrid, lose it, fall behind and eventually snatch a deserved equaliser.

    Arturo Vidal's penalty shortly before the break gave the Italians a half-time lead, but Ronaldo and Gareth Bale turned things around quickly in the second half.

    It was a record-equaling night for Ronaldo, whose goal equalled the record number of goals in a Champions League group stage.

    However, Fernando Llorente's header salvaged a point for the Old Lady.

20. Anderlecht 2-3 Benfica

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    Benfica substitute Rodrigo snatched a last-gasp winner at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium to break Anderlecht hearts in this Group C encounter.

    Chancel Mbemba's first Champions League goal in the first half had given the Belgians the lead, but Nemanja Matic equalised with his first goal in the competition before the break.

    Mbemba's own goal soon after the restart gave Benfica the lead, but Massimo Bruno had looked to have salvaged a point for Anderlecht with 13 minutes to go.

    However, Rodrigo's strike in the 90th minute won the game in dramatic circumstances.

19. Manchester City 1-3 Bayern Munich

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    Joe Hart had a night to forget for Manchester City as they went down 3-1 to the reigning European Champions at the Etihad in October.

    The England international goalkeeper fumbled Franck Ribery's long-range effort for Bayern's opener after just seven minutes.

    Thomas Muller added a second 10 minutes into the second half, before Arjen Robben beat Hart at his near post to add a third just minutes later.

    A great strike from City substitute Alvaro Negredo was simply a consolation goal as the hosts were outclassed by Pep Guardiola's men.

18. CSKA Moscow 3-2 Viktoria Plzen

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    CSKA Moscow fought back from going behind early on to achieve their first points of their Champions League campaign against Czech side Viktoria Plzen.

    Frantisek Rajtoral gave the visitors the lead, but Zoran Tosic equalised 15 minutes later.

    Keisuke Honda then gave the Russians the lead before half-time and their lead was extended late on when Plzen's Radim Reznik put through his own net.

    There was still time for a consolation goal from the visitors when Marek Bakos hit home deep into stoppage time at the end of the second half.

17. Bayern Munich 2-3 Manchester City

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    Manchester City exacted revenge for their 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich at the Etihad by beating the reigning German and European champions in their own back yard with a professional performance.

    It was a stunning game, with Bayern having taken an early two-goal lead thanks to goals from Muller and Mario Gotze inside 12 minutes.

    David Silva pulled one back from close range in the 28th minute, before Aleksandar Kolarov converted a penalty just before the hour mark to equalise for the visitors.

    James Milner completed City's remarkable comeback just minutes later with a fine finish.

16. Chelsea 1-2 Basel

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    Salah would put himself firmly in Chelsea's mindset with a stunning performance for Swiss champions Basel as they upset Mourinho's side at Stamford Bridge.

    Oscar had given the hosts the lead with a well-taken shot from a corner on the stroke of half-time, but Salah equalised with a fine finish across Petr Cech with 19 minutes to go.

    Basel then left the Blues stunned when Marco Streller headed home the winner in the final 10 minutes.

    Egyptian international Salah would later join Chelsea in the January transfer window, but not before upsetting their Champions League campaign again...

15. Basel 1-0 Chelsea

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    Not content with having surprised Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Basel did it again when Mourinho's side made the trip to St. Jakob-Park.

    Salah scored the only goal of the game in the 87th minute, with Chelsea not managing a single shot on target in the whole game.

    Despite defeat, Chelsea went through to the next round of the Champions League.

14. Marseille 1-2 Arsenal

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    After surviving a strong attack from Marseille early on, Arsenal's Theo Walcott volleyed home to break the deadlock on 65 minutes.

    In a high-tempo game in France, Aaron Ramsey fired in the second of the night six minutes from time to give Arsene Wenger's side the three points in this group F encounter.

    Jordan Ayew's penalty in added time at the end of the second half was merely a consolation goal for the hosts.

13. Napoli 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

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    In a match of high tempers, Napoli narrowly overcame last season's Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund at the Stadio San Paolo in September.

    Dortmund had goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller and coach Jurgen Klopp sent off, having fallen behind to an early Gonzalo Higuain goal.

    Furthermore, Dortmund lost the services of defender and captain Mats Hummels to injury at the end of the first half.

    A stunning free-kick from Lorenzo Insigne doubled Rafael Benitez's side's lead halfway through the second half, before a Juan Camilo Zuniga own goal gave the Germans a consolation goal in the closing seconds.

12. Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Napoli

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Dortmund got revenge for their heated defeat in Naples with a collected attacking performance at the Westfalenstadion in November.

    Marco Reus' 10th-minute penalty got the ball rolling for Klopp's men, before Jakub Blaszczykowski doubled their lead on the hour mark.

    Insigne pulled one back for the Italians in the 71st minute to set up a pulsating finish to the game, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the game beyond the visitors 12 minutes from time.

11. Porto 1-2 Atletico Madrid

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    Atletico Madrid showed Europe why they were firing on all cylinders in Spain with a convincing performance to beat Porto at the Estadio do Dragao back in October.

    Of course, it wouldn't be Atletico's last trip to Portugal of the tournament, but it was victorious with Arda Turan finishing a free-kick routine four minutes from time to net the winner.

    Earlier, Jackson Martinez had given Porto a 16th-minute lead, but Diego Godin equalised soon into the second half for Atletico.

10. Milan 2-0 Celtic

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    A passionate away following from Celtic's fans had traveled to Italy and seen their side put in a spirited performance against Milan.

    However, the Italians eventually broke down the Scots' barriers. A Cristian Zapata strike was turned into his own net by Emilio Izaguirre just eight minutes from time.

    Sulley Muntari scored a second just minutes later to rule out any option of a fightback from Celtic when Mario Balotelli's free-kick had been pushed away by Fraser Forster.

9. Barcelona 4-0 Ajax

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    It was the Lionel Messi show when Ajax visited the Camp Nou back in September—the Argentinean scoring a very impressive hat-trick against the Dutch side.

    Aside from Messi's trio of goals, a neat header from Gerard Pique helped Barcelona to the rout.

    The game will also be remembered at the other end though, with Victor Valdes pulling off several good saves, including denying Kolbeinn Sigthorsson a 77th-minute penalty.

8. Celtic 2-1 Ajax

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    Celtic Park broke out into scenes of euphoria as Celtic recorded their first win of their Champions League campaign, defeating Ajax convincingly.

    James Forrest stepped up bravely to slot away the opener from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, before Beram Kayal's deflected shot just eight minutes after the break doubled Neil Lennon's men's lead.

    Lasse Schone fired in a late goal for the Dutch side with the last kick of the game after Nir Biton had been sent off for the hosts.

7. Zenit St Petersburg 2-4 Borussia Dortmund

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    In a thrilling game of many twists and turns, Borussia Dortmund took a commanding lead into the second leg of this last-16 tie against Zenit St Petersburg.

    Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave the German side an early lead, before Reus doubled that advantage a minute later.

    Oleg Shatov pulled one back for Zenit after the break, but Robert Lewandowski's drilled shot extended Dortmund's lead once again.

    Hulk converted a penalty shortly after the hour mark as end-to-end football ensued, but Lewandowski hit back for Dortmund's fourth.

6. Schalke 1-6 Real Madrid

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    Real Madrid showed their class as they swept aside a Schalke team who had been enjoying a spell of rejuvenated form in the Bundesliga before this last-16 first-leg encounter.

    It was a stunning display from the Spanish champions, with Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo all bagging two goals each, before a stunning volley from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pulled one back for Schalke.

5. Milan 0-1 Atletico Madrid

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    Costa came up with the goods as first blood went to Atletico in a nervous encounter in Milan.

    The Brazilian-born Spanish forward powered home at the back post with just seven minutes to go to give Atletico a firm foot in the last-16 tie at the halfway point.

4. Atletico Madrid 4-1 Milan

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    Enjoying wonderful form in La Liga and in Europe, Atletico Madrid kept up their chase of the crown with an emphatic victory over AC Milan in the Spanish capital.

    Costa kept up his record of scoring in every Champions League game he's played in this season, volleying home after just three minutes.

    Kaka pulled one back for Milan, but Turan's deflected effort restored Atletico's lead just before the break.

    Raul Garcia's header made it three on 70 minutes, before Costa finished off the rout from close range with five minutes remaining.

    It was the first time Atletico had reached the quarter-finals of the tournament since 1997.

3. Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United

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    Having held Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford two weeks earlier, Manchester United were outclassed at the Allianz Arena.

    But it wasn't without a twist on the way as Patrice Evra struck first to give Moyes' side a big chance of upsetting the odds.

    But the lead didn't last long and opened the path for a Bayern masterclass—Mario Mandzukic heading in an equaliser soon after before Muller put the hosts ahead.

    Robben added a third, and fourth in the tie, with a wonderful solo goal late on as the Germans booked their place in the Champions League semi-finals.

2. Chelsea 1-3 Atletico Madrid

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    Probably no match encapsulated Atletico Madrid's fairy-tale season more so than their Champions League semi-final second-leg victory at Chelsea.

    Having been held to an uneventful goalless draw in the first leg, Atletico fell behind when former striker and boyhood fan Fernando Torres opened the scoring for Mourinho's men on 36 minutes.

    But it was the fight and hunger of the Spanish visitors that won through and when Adrian Lopez found an equaliser just before half-time, the game was thrown wide open.

    Costa fired home a penalty on the hour mark, before Turan made it three with 18 minutes to go.

    Atletico had upset all the odds, Mourinho and Chelsea to book their place in the Champions League final as the dream continued.

1. Real Madrid 4-1 (A.E.T.) Atletico Madrid

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    Perhaps not the most value-for-money game in the 2013-14 Champions League season, but enthralling and significant nonetheless.

    Real Madrid captured "La Decima"—that is, their 10th European Cup title—with defeat of their city rivals in Lisbon.

    Diego Godin took advantage of a terrible judgement from Iker Casillas to give Atletico the lead just before half-time, and brave defending looked to have won the trophy for Diego Simeone's men.

    That was until Sergio Ramos' powerful header in the 93rd minute sent the game into extra time.

    From there, Real showed their experience, expertise and class to run the game thoroughly beyond their opponents.

    Bale, Marcelo and a penalty from Ronaldo wrapped up the win as Real celebrated a famous victory and concluded a pulsating season of Champions League games.