Top Sporting Comebacks

March 9, 2017

There’s something about being British that means we love a plucky underdog in sport. That David v Goliath situation, where the impossible happens is impossible to describe. Sports teams coming back from seemingly insurmountable deficits is beautiful to watch.

After Barcelona’s quite frankly ludicrous comeback from 4-0 down on aggregate to beat PSG in the Champions League last 16 last week, discussion was flowing in Performance Towers – what are our top 5 sporting comebacks in history?

5. Barcelona vs PSG, Champions League 2017 (6-5 on agg)

PSG travelled to Barcelona in March 2017 with a 4-0 lead for the home leg, that had put European giants Barcelona into such disarray that their manager Luis Enrique announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the season.

They needed to win the game by 5 clear goals, and after being dominated so heavily in the first leg, who’d have believed it possible?

Barca were 3-0 up after 50 minutes meaning their fans started to believe, before PSG forward Edinson Cavani netted a crucial away goal leaving Barcelona needing 3 goals in the final 5 minutes to win.

Brazilian forward Neymar scored in the 88th minute, and the first minute of added time before a long ball into the box with 90 + 5 on the clock fell to Sergi Roberto, who lobbed the onrushing PSG goalkeeper to send the Nou Camp into delirium.

4. Wales vs Scotland, 6 Nations 2010

With 14 minutes to go in this epic 6 Nations clash, Scotland fly-half Dan Parks unleashed a huge drop goal to give Scotland a 24-14 lead, giving them a great chance for their first victory in Cardiff for 8 years.

With 3 minutes to go and Scotland down to 14 men, a young Leigh Halfpenny raced away down the right wing to score in the corner, with Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones converting to set up a thrilling last 3 minutes.

Phil Godman cynically tripped Lee Byrne when he was clean through, resulting in another sin-bin leaving Scotland with just 13 men and Jones knocking over a penalty to draw the scores level at 24-24.

With the clock red and Wales recycling the ball from kick-off, Wales somehow kept the ball alive working through the depleted Scottish defence, allowing the little Welsh magician Shane Williams to dive under the posts crowning an incredible comeback for Wales.

3. Patriots vs Falcons, Super Bowl 2017

In the 2017 edition of the Super Bowl, the much-fancied New England Patriots were down by 25 points in the third quarter, a record deficit needed to be overturned. This was so unlikely, that many NFL fans I knew in the UK had turned off their screens, and tucked themselves into bed knowing the Atlanta Falcons had claimed American Football’s most coveted prize.

Or perhaps not.

Masterminded by quarterback Tom Brady, they recovered to level at 28-28 and force the extra period – another first in Super Bowl history. James White scored in overtime with a 2-yard run, finishing the game at 34-28 to the Patriots.

2. Miracle in Medinah, Ryder Cup2012

At the start of the final day’s play of the 2012 Ryder Cup, USA led 10-6 requiring 4½ points to seal victory. Europe on the other hand needed 8 points to retain the cup, and 8½ to win it outright.

Europe went on to achieve the greatest comebacks in Ryder Cup history and one of the greatest in all sport, by winning 8 and tying 1 of the 12 singles matches that remained. Europe were 14-13 up with 2 ties remaining, and Tiger Woods missed a final putt on the final green and conceded the hole to Francesco Molinari, halving the final point and giving Europe a 14½ – 13½ outright victory.

The championships were held at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois, giving birth to the name the ‘Miracle in Medinah’.

1. Liverpool vs AC Milan, Champions League final 2005

There was a time when Liverpool were notorious for coming back when they were dead and buried. In fact their games against West Ham and Borussia Dortmund could well have made this list themselves. However the magnitude of the 2005 Champions League final and the quality of opposition that they faced means that ‘Istanbul’ has to top the list.

3-0 down at half time having barely touched the ball against the best team in the world at the time by a country mile, only a select few people will know what Rafa Benitez said to the team in the dressing room.

Between the 54th and 59th minute, the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ happened – 6 minutes of magic occurred and somehow Liverpool were level at 3-3 and AC Milan stunned. The game was forced to extra time with Liverpool repelling wave after wave of attacks, before the game went to penalties. Unfancied goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek danced, waved and distracted his way to keeping out 3 penalties, with Liverpool prevailing 3-2 in the shootout.

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