Five comebacks overturning 4-goal deficit in UEFA tournaments

Barcelona were comfortable humbled by Paris St-Germain 4-0 in the first leg of the Round of 16 tie at the Parc des Princes. Angel Di Maria’s brace and a goal each from Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani diminished whatever hopes Barcelona had in progressing to the quarter finals.

No team have ever lost 4-0 away in a European club tie and progressed. However, there is still a glimmer hope for

As history suggests, three sides have overturned four-goal deficits-albeit having scored away from home.

We look at 5 previous memorable comebacks where the teams have recovered a four-goal deficit in a UEFA club tournament.

Chelsea 3-1 Barcelona (1st leg)
Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (AET) *after extra time

1999/2000 Quarter-Finals

Barcelona fell 3-0 down at Chelsea within 38 minutes but on this occasion it was Luís Figo who got the fourth goal of the contest for the visitors. Pre-Roman Abramovich, Chelsea were far from the European force they are now, and this first-leg triumph over Louis van Gaal’s Barça marked an improbable success for Gianluca Vialli’s men. They even came within seven minutes of winning the overall contest when Tore André Flo struck his third of the tie in Catalonia to bring the second-leg score back to 2-1, only for Dani García to notch Barça’s third. Rivaldo’s penalty and a Patrick Kluivert goal finished off the Londoners in extra time.

“It was the greatest night of my life,” said Barcelona’s Gabri García while team-mate Figo concluded: “We played a perfect game. We had a big setback but managed to turn things around.” A disappointed Vialli offered a mournful summary: “We did what we didn’t want to do: defend badly.” Barcelona exited in the last four.

AC Milan 4-1 Deportivo La Coruña (1st leg)
Deportivo La Coruña 4-0 AC Milan

2003/04 Quarter-Finals

Walter Pandiani put Deportivo in front at San Siro but that was long forgotten by full time, with Kaká netting twice as Milan shredded their opponents. Depor coach Javier Irureta was hanging on to little more than a dream. “This is of course a very complex, difficult and challenging task,” he said. “But in football, miracles often happen, things you might not rationally expect.” Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valerón and Alberto Luque making it 3-0 – before substitute Fran González added a fourth goal on 76 minutes. Irureta duly promised to take the pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostela, having prayed for success. “It is worth going to Santiago after this victory,” he said. “I will do the walk to Santiago because a promise is a promise.” Deportivo lost in the semi-finals.

Napoli 3-1 Chelsea
Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (AET) *After Extra Time

2011/12 Round of 16

André Villas-Boas’s last European game with the Londoners ended in defeat in Naples; Juan Mata had given his team the initiative, but Ezequiel Lavezzi struck twice either side of an Edinson Cavani effort to leave the English club heading towards the exit. “There’s a big possibility that, with this away goal, we can turn the tie around,” Villas-Boas ventured afterwards.

The Portuguese, however, had been replaced by Roberto Di Matteo by the second leg, when goals from Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard helped move the contest into extra time. Branislav Ivanović finally completed the Lazarus act after 105 minutes. “I’ve had some great nights but this will probably go down in clubhistory,” said Di Matteo, little knowing an even greater triumph in adversity would follow. Chelsea beat Bayern in the final.

Olympiacos 2-0 Manchester United (1st Leg)
Manchester United 3-0 Olympiacos

2013/14 Round of 16

Alejandro Domínguez’s nimble flick and a fine Joel Campbell strike left Olympiacos within touching distance of a UEFA Champions League quarter-final place for the first time in 15 years but those dreams were left in tatters. Robin van Persie did the damage. The Dutchman opened the scoring from the penalty spot, added a second and then completed the turnaround with a free-kick soon after the restart – his first UEFA Champions League hat- trick. The result was dripping in history: it was 30 years to the week since United had last overcome such a deficit in Europe – against Barcelona in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. United exited in the quarter-finals.

FC Porto 3-1 Bayern München (1st Leg)
Bayern München 6-1 FC Porto

2014/15 Quarter-Finals

Porto’s hard-earned first-leg lead did not last long in Munich. By half-time Bayern were 5-0 up including two goals from Robert Lewandowski. Jackson Martínez pulled one back but Xabi Alonso had the last word with a free-kick.

“Even after the game in Porto I had the feeling that we could make it,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said. “You always make up the difference in your head. I always try to analyse our opponents. It was not such a big surprise how they played in Porto. They have a very good team, but today they were not able to reach their level.” Bayern lost in the semi-finals.

Barcelona host PSG in the 2nd leg at the Nou Camp in March 9, 2017.

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