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Barcelona, Man Utd, Belgium & football's 10 greatest comebacks

4:10 PM EDT 7/2/18
Marouane Fellaini Belgium 2018
Stunning victories have been snatched from the jaws of defeat countless times in football. Here, Goal takes a look at some of the best comebacks

  • Cheik Tiote Newcastle United v Arsenal Premier League 05022011

    Newcastle 4-4 Arsenal | Premier League | 2011

    The Gunners ran rampant in the opening half hour at St James' Park with Theo Walcott opening the scoring in the first minute, while Robin van Persie's double ensured they led 4-0 after 25 minutes.

    Cruising at the break, Arsenal lost momentum when Abou Diaby was sent off four minutes into the second half after an altercation with Newcastle's Joey Barton.

    Barton started Newcastle's recovery with 21 minutes remaining by converting a penalty and Leon Best struck in the 75th minute to make it 4-2.

    Another Barton penalty in the 83rd minute gave the hosts a sniff before Cheick Tiote sensationally volleyed home from 25 yards to complete Newcastle's comeback in front of their own fans. 

  • HD Zlatan Ibrahimovic Germany 4-4 2012

    Germany 4-4 Sweden | World Cup qualifying | 2012

    This is the only time Germany have thrown away a four-goal lead in their history, with Sweden scoring all of their goals after the hour mark to draw in Berlin.

    Germany led 3-0 at the break and extended their lead in the 56th minute when Mesut Ozil scored but the half-time introduction of Kim Kallstrom turned the tide for Sweden.

    Kallstrom expertly picked out Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 62nd minute for the Swedish striker to head beyond Manuel Neuer, while the substitute also chipped the ball over Germany's defence two minutes later for Mikael Lustig to convert from a tight angle.

    Johan Elmander dragged the visitors closer in the 76th minute before Rasmus Elme equalised in stoppage time to spark wild celebrations from all wearing yellow and blue at the Olympiastadion.

  • Dwight Yorke v Juventus 1999

    Juventus 2-3 Manchester United | Champions League | 1999

    United's less famous comeback in the 1998-99 Champions League came at the semi-final stage when Juventus, who claimed a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the first leg, took an early 2-0 lead in the return match in Turin thanks to Filippo Inzaghi's brace.

    Captain Roy Keane, who would be yellow carded in Italy, which ensured he wouldn't play in the final, started United's comeback with a near-post header at a corner.

    The visitors were level on the night at half-time thanks to Dwight Yorke's header from Andy Cole's cross and the latter completed United's triumph with a goal seven minutes from time.

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer | Man Utd's 20 greatest

    Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich | Champions League final | 1999

    Just over a month later and Sir Alex Ferguson's Red Devils were at it again, clinching the European Cup in second-half stoppage time in the final at Camp Nou.

    Bayern had led since the sixth minute through Mario Basler's free-kick but the introduction of Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the second half would eventually break the Bavarians' hearts.

    Two corners were Bayern's undoing with Sheringham levelling the match in the 91st minute after the Bundesliga club failed to clear the ball from their penalty area.

    It was Solskjaer's turn two minutes later as he poked the ball past Oliver Kahn after Sheringham had flicked David Beckham's corner on at the near post.

  • Angola 4 Mali 4 African Cup of Nations 2010

    Angola 4-4 Mali | African Cup of Nations | 2010

    Picture this - you're the host nation at a major tournament and, with 11 minutes left in your opening game, you lead 4-0 in front of your own fans.

    Angola were flying when Manucho Goncalves' 74th-minute penalty found the back of the net in Luanda, with Flavio Amado's first-half brace having inspired the home team to a seemingly unassailable lead.

    Mali hadn't read the script, however, with Seydou Keita sparking the visitors with a goal in the 79th minute.

    Fredi Kanoute reduced Angola's lead to two goals in the 88th minute but the home side still looked safe as the match entered stoppage time only for Keita and Mustapha Yatabare to score in the 93rd and 95th minutes, respectively.

  • arsenal vs reading 5-7

    Reading 5-7 Arsenal | League Cup | 2012

    Reading's return to the Premier League for the 2012-13 season didn't go to plan as they immediately dropped back to the Championship, but on one night in late October they appeared set for a famous victory over Arsenal.

    Leading 4-0 late in the first half, Reading appeared certain to make the last eight of the League Cup but Theo Walcott's goal in stoppage time gave the Gunners some hope.

    Goals from Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny dragged Arsenal closer to their hosts but Arsene Wenger's side still needed Walcott to turn the ball home in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time to stay alive.

    The drama continued in extra-time, with Marouane Chamakh scoring from the edge of the area to give Arsenal the lead, Pavel Pogrebnyak levelling with five minutes left, before Walcott - again - and his Moroccan team-mate bobbed up in added time to secure victory.

  • Stanley Matthews Blackpool Bolton Wanderers 1953 T10

    Blackpool 4-3 Bolton Wanderers | FA Cup final | 1953

    This match has gone down in history as the 'Matthews Final' after the key role played by Sir Stanley Matthews - one of England's greatest-ever players - despite the fact his team-mate Stan Mortensen scored a hat-trick.

    Bolton led 3-1 at Wembley with 25 minutes remaining but Mortensen gave Blackpool a lifeline in the 68th minute when he bundled the ball into the net from Matthews' cross.

    Mortensen's thumping free-kick levelled the match in the 89th minute before Matthews again jinked past his marker to deliver a cross from the right wing in stoppage time that Bill Perry fired past Bolton's goalkeeper.

    Matthews - the oldest player to ever play for England or in England's top division - secured the only major trophy of his career that day in one of only two FA Cup finals to feature seven goals.

  • 2005 Milan Liverpool Gerrard

    Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan | Champions League final | 2005

    The rumours surrounding what happened at half-time on this fateful night in Istanbul will probably never die - did Milan really drink champagne? - but regardless Liverpool's comeback deserves to be rated amongst the best ever.

    Milan hit the front in the opening minute through captain Paolo Maldini and then struck twice in the lead-up to half-time through Hernan Crespo.

    Having been totally outplayed in the first half, Liverpool appeared inspired after the break with skipper Steven Gerrard producing the performance that would essentially define his career, scoring the Reds' first goal in the 54th minute. 

    Vladimir Smicer struck just two minutes later before Gerrard won a penalty on the hour mark that Xabi Alonso scored from after Dida had saved the Spaniard's initial spot-kick, while in the penalty shootout, Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek made three saves to secure victory.

  • Barcelona PSG

    Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain | Champions League | 2017

    PSG's 4-0 first-leg victory reinvigorated discussions about the future of coach Luis Enrique at Barcelona, with the Spaniard eventually confirming he would leave the Catalan club a week before the home leg at Camp Nou.

    This was not the Barca that won the Champions League in 2009, 2011 or even 2015 but they found a way back in the most extraordinary match of recent memory, with Luis Suarez and an own goal from Layvin Kurzawa giving Luis Enrique's men some hope at half-time of the second leg.

    Lionel Messi's penalty four minutes into the second half gave the hosts more momentum but Edinson Cavani's strike just past the hour mark seemingly ended Barcelona's shot at the quarter-finals.

    But PSG threw the game away in the closing stages - Neymar sparked the home side with an 88th-minute free-kick before converting a contentious penalty, while it was the Brazilian's delivery in the fifth minute of stoppage time that set up Sergi Roberto for an improbable winner.

  • Belgium Japan World Cup 2018

    Belgium 3 Japan 2 | World Cup last 16 | 2018

    Belgium’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’ appeared to be on the brink of crashing out in the last 16 in Russia against an unheralded Japan side.

    After winning all three group games, Belgium were heavy favourites to brush past Japan and set up a quarter-final tie with Brazil, but Roberto Martinez’s men, instead, were staring at an embarrassing defeat after Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui scored early in the second half.

    Chances came and went for Belgium as they struggled to get back into the game, before a seemingly fortuitous header from Jan Vertonghen on 69 minutes gave them a lifeline and Marouane Fellaini equalised five minutes later.

    With the final attack of the game, Belgium swept forward on the counter attack and Romelu Lukaku’s clever dummy presented Nacer Chadli with a simple chance to score the winner as Martinez’s men became the first team since West Germany in 1970 to come from two goals down to win a World Cup knockout game.