Hope for Tottenham? Six of the best Champions League second-leg comebacks

Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (6-5 on aggregate), 2017

A 4-0 thrashing of Barcelona in the first instalment of PSG’s round of 16 clash in 2016/17 felt like a coming-of-age result for the Ligue 1 side in Europe, yet they somehow contrived to throw it all away by going down 6-1 in an extraordinary return match at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona still needed three goals to progress heading into the 88th minute of the second leg, but a double from man-of-the-match Neymar and Sergi Roberto’s dramatic decider completed one of the most extraordinary turnarounds in football history.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 Milan (5-4 on aggregate), 2004

Milan entered the 2003/04 campaign with hopes of becoming the first team to win back-to-back Champions Leagues since Arrigo Sacchi led the Rossoneri to two in a row in 1989 and 1990. They got their quarter-final meeting with Deportivo La Coruna off to a perfect start with a 4-1 win at San Siro, with all four goals (two from Kaka and one each for Andriy Shevchenko and Andrea Pirlo) coming in the space of eight minutes.

Milan’s lead was wiped out by the midway point of the second leg, however, as first-half efforts from Walter Pandiana, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque gave Deportivo the away-goals advantage. Carlo Ancelotti’s men therefore needed to score to edge back ahead on aggregate, but it was Fran Gonzalez who grabbed the decisive fourth of the night to send the Spaniards through.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 on aggregate), 2018

Barcelona fans could have been forgiven for booking time off work to attend the Champions League semi-finals after their 4-1 triumph over Roma in the first leg of the 2017/18 quarter-finals. That scoreline did not tell the full story of a game in which the Serie A side created plenty of opportunities, but a three-goal lead heading into the second leg appeared to be enough for Ernesto Valverde’s charges.

Edin Dzeko gave Roma hope with a sixth-minute strike in the Italian capital, before Daniele de Rossi made Barcelona nervous by converting from the penalty spot just before the hour mark. It was left to Kostas Manolas to make himself the hero, the Greek defender heading home in the 82nd minute to send the Stadio Olimpico into raptures.

Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (5-4 on aggregate), 2012

A 3-1 loss to Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie was not quite the final straw for Andre Villas-Boas as Chelsea manager, but the Portuguese was sacked less than two weeks later. Roberto Di Matteo was installed as caretaker boss with the hope of securing a top-four finish in the Premier League, with most fans realistic about the club’s slim chances of further progress in Europe.

Yet Chelsea produced a brilliant performance in the second leg to advance to the quarter-finals. A 3-1 scoreline after 90 minutes sent the game to extra time, in which Branislav Ivanovic scored the all-important ninth goal of the tie to complete a magnificent comeback. Improbably, Chelsea then went on to defeat Benfica, Barcelona and Bayern Munich to win their first ever European Cup.

Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid (5-5 on aggregate), 2004

European champions in 1998, 2000 and 2002, Real Madrid were favourites to lift the trophy again in 2004 as the competition reached the quarter-final stage. That feeling was only strengthened when los Blancos beat Monaco 4-2 in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, although subsequent events meant that Fernando Morientes’ late effort to reduce the deficit to two goals was hugely significant.

On loan at Monaco from Madrid, Morientes also scored in the second leg, with Ludovic Giuly’s brace completing a 3-1 win and sending the principality club through to the last four against the odds.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate), 2019

Just last season, Liverpool showed that nothing can be taken for granted in the Champions League. And while Tottenham are just 1-0 down to RB Leipzig midway through their last-16 tie, Liverpool had three goals to make up in this semi-final clash.

They did it in spectacular fashion, Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum both notching braces to leave Lionel Messi and co. stunned. It was a phenomenal feat, and one which set the Reds on the path to their sixth European crown.

 

Jurgen Klopp must resist temptation to rest Liverpool stars against Bournemouth

It has been an unfamiliar week for Liverpool. Prior to last Saturday, the Reds had tasted defeat just three times all season. The first loss came against Napoli in the Champions League, although it did not prevent Jurgen Klopp’s side qualifying for the round of 16. The second came when Klopp sent the club’s team to face Aston Villa in the quarter-finals of the League Cup, with the senior squad taking part in the Club World Cup instead.

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6 classic Chelsea vs Tottenham games from the Premier League era

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham (May 2016)

Although they were not involved, this was one of the most famous games in Leicester City’s history. Tottenham’s failure to win at Stamford Bridge handed the Premier League title to Claudio Ranieri’s men, many of whom were gathered at Jamie Vardy’s house to watch the action unfold.

Spurs stormed into a 2-0 lead but then lost their heads to an extent in the second half, with nine of their players ending the night in the referee’s notebook. A superb Eden Hazard strike ended their title dreams late on.

Tottenham 5-3 Chelsea (January 2015)

A Harry Kane-inspired Tottenham gave Chelsea their toughest game of the season on New Year’s Day 2015. Kane scored twice to take his tally for the season to 17, with Danny Rose, Andros Townsend and Nacer Chadli also getting on the scoresheet for Mauricio Pochettino’s charges.

Chelsea had been an entertaining attacking force in the first half of the campaign, but this defeat persuaded Jose Mourinho to shut up shop for the run-in.

Tottenham 2-0 Chelsea (January 2017)

Chelsea had won 13 games in a row prior to their visit to White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day, only for Spurs to stop them in their tracks. Dele Alli scored twice, both of them headers, to give the hosts victory.

Spurs were arguably the best team in the country for a while after this game, but the eventual runners-up finished seven points behind Antonio Conte’s champions – the same margin that separated them after this encounter.

Chelsea 4-3 Tottenham (February 1994)

A seven-goal thriller in the 1994/94 season ended in Chelsea’s favour, although both teams endured underwhelming campaigns. Spurs led 2-0 inside the first quarter thanks to goals from Steve Sedgley and Jason Dozzell, but it was Chelsea who led 3-2 at half-time through Mal Donaghy, Mark Stein and John Spencer.

Andy Gray restored parity for Tottenham in the second half, but Stein was the hero after holding his nerve from the penalty spot in the 89th minute.

Tottenham 4-4 Chelsea (March 2008)

A pulsating clash in north London ended with the capital clubs each earning a share of the spoils. Chelsea led 2-1 at half-time after goals from Didier Drogba and Michael Essien either side of Jonathan Woodgate’s effort, and then extended their advantage further when Joe Cole found the net early in the second half.

Tottenham fought back, though, with Dimitar Berbatov and Tom Huddlestone drawing them level. Cole then grabbed his second of the day to put Chelsea ahead once more, only for Robbie Keane to grab a dramatic equaliser in the 88th minute.

Tottenham 2-3 Chelsea (September 2001)

Chelsea left it late before sinking Spurs in this 2001 encounter, with Marcel Desailly’s header earning them maximum points at the death. Tottenham thought they had salvaged a draw through Teddy Sheringham, but Chelsea refused to give in and found the time to strike for the third time that afternoon.

Claudio Ranieri’s side would go on to finish sixth, three places higher than a Tottenham team managed by Glenn Hoddle, who beat the Blues in a two-legged League Cup semi-final in January.

6 classic Chelsea vs Manchester United games from the Premier League era

Chelsea 4-0 Manchester United (October 2016)

Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge did not go well. Ten months on from his acrimonious sacking as Chelsea boss, Mourinho took his United side to west London and was on the wrong end of a one-sided thrashing – much to the delight of the home support, who taunted the manager they had once adored.

This was a third consecutive victory for Antonio Conte’s men, who were finding their stride having recently converted to a 3-4-2-1 formation. Pedro Rodriguez opened the scoring after 30 seconds, with Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante also getting in on the act.

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United (August 2004)

Mourinho was in the opposite dugout 12 years earlier, leading Chelsea out for his first competitive game as the club’s manager. The newly-rich Blues had spent heavily in the summer transfer market, with new signings Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira and Didier Drogba included in Mourinho’s first Premier League XI.

Manchester United, who were forced to play Roy Keane at centre-back because of injuries, had the lion’s share of possession but were deservedly beaten by their hosts, for whom Eidur Gudjohnsen notched the winning goal.

Manchester United 3-0 Chelsea (April 1993)

Manchester United were bottom of the table after two games in the division’s inaugural season. They quickly climbed higher up the standings but were still down in third following a 0-0 draw with Arsenal, which makes their achievement of ultimately winning the league by 10 points rather impressive.

Alex Ferguson’s won each of their last seven games to storm to the summit, including a comfortable 3-0 defeat of mid-table Chelsea in April. Mark Hughes and Eric Cantona were both on the scoresheet, as was Steve Clarke, albeit at the wrong end of the field.

Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United (December 1994)

A five-goal thriller at Stamford Bridge ultimately ended in Manchester United’s favour, although it was a closer-run thing than Alex Ferguson would have hoped after goals from Mark Hughes and Eric Cantona had given them a 2-0 lead early in the second half.

Chelsea fought back admirably, though, with Eddie Newton drawing them level in the 77th minute after John Spencer had equalised from the penalty spot. Parity did not last long, however, with Brian McClair finding the net just seconds after Newton had done so at the other end.

Chelsea 5-0 Manchester United (October 1999)

In Premier League terms, the 1999/00 season was arguably Alex Ferguson’s best as Manchester United manager. The Red Devils won the title by a huge margin of 18 points, amassing 91 in total and scoring 97 goals.

Curiously, though, their three defeats that campaign were all comprehensive, none more so than a 5-0 demolition by a Chelsea side who were flying high under Gianluca Vialli in November. This was United’s first loss in 29 Premier League matches, as Gus Poyet (two), Chris Sutton, Jody Morris and a Henning Berg own goal gave the Londoners a famous win.

Manchester United 3-3 Chelsea (September 2000)

This was Claudio Ranieri’s second Premier League game as Chelsea manager following the dismissal of Vialli in mid-September. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink gave the visitors to Old Trafford the lead in the eighth minute and Tore Andre Flo struck on the stroke of half-time, but United were into the interval with a 3-2 advantage thanks to Paul Scholes, Teddy Sheringham and David Beckham.

Chelsea battled back after the break, though, with Flo grabbing his second and the Blues’ third in the 70th minute. It was Ranieri’s first point as Chelsea boss, and one of the 80 United accumulated as they went on to win another Premier League title.

The 6 biggest title-winning margins in Premier League history

6. Manchester United (10 points, 2000/01)

Manchester United also won the title by 10 points in 1992/93, as did Leicester in 2015/16 – but Alex Ferguson’s 2000/01 vintage were further ahead of the division’s runners-up on goal difference.

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Four of the most entertaining League Cup semi-final second legs this century

Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur (5-3 on aggregate), 2007

Tottenham had stormed into a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes of the first leg of this all-north London League Cup semi-final in 2006/07, only for a Julio Baptista brace to level the scores at the midway point of the tie.

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Even in defeat by Manchester City, Sheffield United showed why they belong in the Premier League

In the end, Manchester City’s quality shone through. Moments before Sergio Aguero tapped home the winning goal from Kevin De Bruyne’s low delivery, Sheffield United had a similar chance of their own. Enda Stevens fired the ball across the box from the left, but Oli McBurnie was unable to add the finishing touch. This was a reminder that football is a game of fine margins.

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Five Premier League sides who escaped from precarious positions at the turn of the year

Southampton, 1998/99

When Santa Claus was making his way down the world’s chimneys on Christmas Day 1998, there was little festive cheer to be found in Southampton. Dave Jones’ men were mired in a relegation battle having won just three of their first 18 matches and conceded 35 goals – the worst defensive record in the division.

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New Year 2012: A weekend of shocks in the Premier League

There must have been something in the air over New Year’s weekend in 2011/12, with the four teams occupying the Champions League qualification spots all failing to emerge victorious in the Premier League. Yet whereas third-placed Tottenham Hotspur at least managed a draw against Swansea City, each of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City were unable to even pick up a point…

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