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From Chelsea to Barcelona: Top Five Champions League comebacks

| 26.02.2014

After a 2-0 defeat to Olympiacos Manchester United are facing an uphill struggle to progress to the last eight of the Champions League this season, but David Moyes need not despair just yet.

With the return leg at Old Trafford to come, the Red Devils should remain hopeful of progress with the Greeks heading to the UK with the unenviable record of having lost on each of their last 11 visits to these shores.

Manchester United are favourites to win on the night in the second leg with Ladbrokes offering odds of 4/7, but for those keen to back the Reds to roll over their opponents the 2/1 on Moyes’ men qualifying is too good to ignore – especially when you recall these memorable fightbacks.

Barcelona 5 – 1 Chelsea (6-4 on aggregate) – 1999/2000

18 Apr 2000:  Rivaldo of Barcelona celebrates a goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg against Chelsea at the Nou Camp in Barcelona, Spain.  Barcelona won the match 5-1.  Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill /Allsport

Before Roman Abramovich and his endless oodles of cash arrived, Chelsea were seen as underdogs in the Champions League. So it was a surprise when they raced into a 3-0 lead against Barcelona in their quarter-final first leg encounter at Stamford Bridge. It all changed in the second half though with a Luis Figo goal giving the Catalans hope ahead of the return leg.

Goals from Rivaldo and Figo put Barca in command in the Camp Nou. But Chelsea found themselves back in the tie with a Tore Andre Flo a goal on the hour mark. Dani Garcia then made it 4-4 on aggregate before Rivaldo missed a penalty and the game went to extra time. In the end the La Liga side pipped it with the Brazilian scoring a second spot kick before a Patrick Kluivert strike sealed it.

Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid (5-5 on aggregate) – 2003/2004

MONACO, Monaco:  Monaco's Spanish forward Fernando Morientes (L) and teammate French forward Ludovic Giuly jubilate after the second goal during their Champions League quarter-final second leg football match against Real Madrid, 06 April 2004 at Louis II Stadium in Monaco.  AFP PHOTO GERARD JULIEN  (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Having dispatched Manchester United in some style in the last 16, a Real Madrid side boasting the likes of Raul, Ronaldo, Figo and Zidane was heavily fancied to progress to the last four at the expense of Ligue 1 side Monaco who in truth had done well to get this far.

The first leg saw the Galacticos race into a 4-1 lead but with seven minutes to go Madrid outcast Fernando Morientes, on-loan at the French club, struck to give Monaco hope.

Even then it was tough going for Monaco who went behind early on in the return and seemed to be heading out until Ludovic Giuly scored just before the break. The second half saw the Ligue 1 side come into their own with goals from Morientes and the Frenchman putting them 3-1 up and through on away goals.

Barcelona 4-0 AC Milan (4-2 on aggregate) – 2012/2013


A comeback that is overlooked because of their semi-final capitulation against Bayern, Barcelona’s fight back against AC Milan features due to the striking similarities between this first leg and Manchester United’s loss to Olympiacos.

Outclassed by the Rossoneri in the San Siro, where goals from Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince-Boateng gave the Italians a 2-0 lead, the return leg was an absolute thriller, with Milan guilty of missing a couple of early chances before Barcelona kicked into gear.

As ever Lionel Messi was the architect of the comeback, scoring a brace before half-time to put the Catalans level on aggregate and it was David Villa, recently back from injury, who got the decisive strike early in the second half, with Barca living dangerously until a stoppage time fourth from Jordi Alba.

Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (5-4 on aggregate) – 2011/2012


AVB’s brief tenure in charge of Chelsea came to an end after goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani gave the Italians a 3-1 first leg lead in Naples. A change of coach saw Roberto Di Matteo in charge for the return at Stamford Bridge, where goals either side of half-time put Chelsea back in the driving seat.

That all changed though when a stunning Gokhan Inler goal meant the Londoners needed another one just to draw level on aggregate. They got it with a Frank Lampard penalty 15 minutes from time saw the tie head to extra time. It was then left to Branislav Ivanovic to score yet another priceless goal for the club to send Chelsea through and on their way to Champions League glory.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (5-4 on aggregate) – 2003/2004

CORUNA, SPAIN:  Deportivo Coruna's players Sergio Gonzalez, Juan Valeron, Victor Sanchez and Manuel Pablo Garcia (L to R) celebrate after scoring 3rd goal against AC Milan during the European Champions League quarterfinal second leg match at Riazor Stadium in Coruna, 07 April 2004. AFP Photo / Miguel RIOPA  (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

The mother of all comebacks saw Deportivo do the unthinkable in a tie that ultimately foreshadowed the capitulation to come for Milan in the Champions League final against Liverpool the following year.

Walter Pandiani may have put Depor 1-0 up in the San Siro early on in the first leg but Milan soon stepped up, scoring four unanswered goals to give themselves a seemingly unassailable lead going into the return at the Riazor.

But the Uruguayan’s goal would ultimately prove the difference as the unheralded Spanish side fought back on home soil with goals from Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Alberto Luque putting them on course for the semis before half-time had even struck.

It was left to sub Fran Gonzalez to put the icing on the cake with a fourth that sealed a first-ever appearance in the last four with manager Javier Irureta embarking on the famous pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostela following this footballing miracle.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.