Top five greatest ever Champions League second leg comebacks


Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | April 10, 2016

Real Madrid host Wolfsburg in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday, April 12th hoping to overturn a 2-0 scoreline after goals from Ricardo Rodriguez and Max Arnold earned their side a shock win in the first leg.

Los Blancos have come back from this deficit in this competition before, when they knocked out Red Star Belgrade at the same stage of the 1986/87 European Cup, and they are 10/11 with Coral to qualify for the semis again. You can back them at a more enticing 7/1 to win 3-0.

So, in light of Real’s bold attempt to overcome German outfit Wolfsburg, we have picked five of the greatest ever Champions League era second leg comebacks.

Thankfully for Zinedine Zidane’s men too, the following teams in question all achieved the feat on home soil.

Barcelona 4-0 (4-2) AC Milan

2012/13 last 16

We start off with Real’s bitter rivals and the most recent match on our list, as Barcelona remarkably turned around a 2-0 loss at the San Siro to smash four past Milan in the return leg.

Missing David Villa in Italy, Ghana duo Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Ali Muntari’s second-half strikes put the Rossoneri firmly on the front foot, but Barca simply ran riot at the Nou Camp.

Goals from spaniards Villa and Jordi Alba, and a brace from Lionel Messi, ensured the Catalans became the first club in the competition to ever recover from 2-0 down after the first leg.

After edging past PSG in the next round, Barcelona were then smashed 7-0 on aggregate by eventual champions Bayern Munich in the semis.

Chelsea 4-1 aet (5-4) Napoli

2011/12 last 16

Chelsea certainly rode their luck on their way to winning their first European Cup against Bayern in the final, and almost went out at the last 16 stage in 2011/12, when they also finished just sixth in the Premier League that season.

Napoli managed to seemingly eclipse Juan Mata’s opener at the San Paolo, by scoring three and taking a respectable lead to Stamford Bridge.

But club legends Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard all netted in normal time, with current Leicester City player Gokhan Inler getting a strike in reply, to dramatically take the tie into extra-time.

From there, another long-serving star Branislav Ivanovic scored in the 105th minute to help Roberto Di Matteo’s side progress.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 (5-4) AC Milan

2003/04 quarter-finals

Undoubtedly the greatest comeback of them all, no one had given Spanish side Deportivo a chance after losing 4-1 in the first leg to an all-star AC Milan side consisting of names such as Cafu, Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Kaka, Filippo Inzaghi, Andriy Shevchenko and others.

Former Birmingham City striker Walter Pandiani did cause a brief shock when he opened the scoring at the San Siro in the 11th minute, but no one would’ve predicted how significant it would be.

The Uruguayan struck early again in the return leg, before ex-Spain internationals Juan Carlos Valeron, Albert Luque and Fran Gonzalez completed the most unlikely but remarkable of comebacks.

Monaco 3-1 (5-5) Real Madrid

2003/04 quarter-finals

In the same season and same round, Monaco caused another comeback shock, as current France coach Didier Deschamps led the Principality outfit past the mighty Real Madrid, despite being 4-2 down after the first leg.

Fernando Morientes, who was on loan from Los Blancos at the time, made his parent club pay for sending him out, as he proved pivotal in both fixtures.

Firstly, the Spaniard scored a late supposed consolation at the Bernabeu, after goals from the likes of Zidane, Luis Figo and Brazilian Ronaldo, and then was also on target back in Monaco.

Ex-Barca winger Ludovic Giuly must’ve enjoyed bagging a brace past his former rivals too.

Barcelona 5-1 aet (6-4) Chelsea

1999/2000 quarter-finals

Chelsea have been known in recent seasons to be comeback kings but, back before they were a European force, they let slip a 3-1 first leg lead against Barcelona in the quarters.

Gianfranco Zola and Tore Andre Flo had put Gianluca Vialli’s men in the driving seat in the opening half at Stamford Bridge, but Figo netted after the break to take a crucial away goal back to Catalonia.

And crucial it proved to be, as the Portuguese’s goal on top of strikes from Rivaldo and Dani Garcia too at the Nou Camp ensured that the tie went to extra-time.

Barca then scored two more, Patrick Kluivert and Rivaldo again, to record an emphatic 5-1 home win and 6-4 aggregate scoreline to reach the semis, where they would lose to Valencia.


Check out more Champions League content in our dedicated archive, and take a look at more trivia pieces too.

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