There’s arguably nothing quite like the thrill of European action, with midweek encounters that have brought us action-packed nights in both the Europa League and Champions League over the years.

As the best teams from around the continent go head to head, sometimes encounters can be decided by the finest of margins, while, other times, there are huge mismatches in quality that produce high-scoring victories for the continental giants.

Likewise, just when everything seems over for some teams following a crushing defeat or falling behind in games, against all the odds, they somehow managed to dig deep and produce a spectacular turnaround.

Such comebacks leave a lasting impression and, in this article, we take a look at five of the greatest in European football history.


5: Leixoes 7-6 FC La Chaux-De-Fonds

We start the ball rolling with two teams who most people, these days, have likely never heard of, probably because neither currently play in the respective top flights in their respective countries.

Leixoes play in the second tier of Portuguese football, while FC La Chaux-De-Fonds are in the third tier in Switzerland, so the glory days for both clubs are long in the past.

Nevertheless, their meetings in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup first round back in November 1961 produced one of the most spectacular comebacks in European football history.

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FC La Chaux-De-Fonds enjoyed a crushing 6-2 victory in front of just 3,184 in attendance at their Charriére home ground, where they still play to this very day.

The Swiss side were abundantly confident they were going through to the next round, thanks to what looked like a more than comfortable four-goal margin, but Leixoes clearly had other ideas.

The Portuguese outfit ran riot in the second leg, putting five past their stunned rival to win the tie 7-6 on aggregate.


4: Deportivo La Coruña 5-4 AC Milan

It’s been a bumpy ride in La Liga for Deportivo La Coruña and their fans in recent years.

They were relegated from the Spanish top flight at the end of the 2017-18 campaign but, not so long ago, they were a side that captured the imagination during their thrilling European football encounters.

However, their 2003-04 Champions League run seemed over after a 4-1 defeat away at the San Siro against AC Milan, but the Italian giants were left stunned in the second leg.

Inspired by an early Walter Pandiani finish inside five minutes, Deportivo tore their star-studded rivals apart.

Juan Carlos Valerón added a second and Albert Luque struck a third just before the stroke of half-time, levelling the aggregate score and putting his side ahead on away goals.

Fran struck the fourth in the 76th minute, the Riazor Stadium was rocking and AC Milan had been dumped out of the competition in spectacular fashion.


3: Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-5 Real Madrid

Before being rebranded to its current Europa League name, the UEFA Cup was a competition that always produced scintillating encounters.

After demolishing the mighty Real Madrid 5-1 in the first leg of their 1985-86 meeting, the Gladbach side managed by Jupp Heynckes had produced a major European upset.

Confident of completing the job comfortably enough, his team headed to the Santiago Bernabéu in the Spanish capital.

It’s often said that the word ‘impossible’ doesn’t exist for Real Madrid and Los Blancos found themselves two goals to the good just 19 minutes into the contest.

The German side were starting to realise that things weren’t looking as comfortable as they had thought but the momentum was already with Real Madrid by this point.

Santillana struck the third on 77 minutes and with his side mounting wave after wave of attacks, he also struck the crucial fourth goal with just two minutes left on the clock.

There was no time left for a reaction from the visitors and Real Madrid won the quarter-final tie on away goals.


2: FC Barcelona 6-5 Paris Saint Germain

Over recent years, PSG have been spending phenomenal amounts of money in transfers, all with the aim of finally conquering the Champions League.

When they crushed Barcelona 4-0 at the Parc des Princes during the 2016-17 campaign, it finally looked like the French side were a genuine force to be reckoned with, on track to achieve their ambitions.

After such a potent first-leg display against such a powerful opponent, all the spending appeared to be justified.

After being hammered in France, the Catalan giants were also hammered by the press in Spain, so they were out for blood in the second leg at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona took a 3-0 lead, although Edinson Cavani grabbed a crucial away goal for PSG, seemingly dashing any hopes of turning the tie around.

However, Neymar scored twice in three minutes right at the death, then Sergi Roberto scored a dramatic tie-winning goal five minutes into stoppage time, proving it is  never over until the final whistle.

To this day, Barcelona are the only team ever to recover from a four-goal first-leg deficit in Champions League history.


1: Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich

Compared to other matches, the score was quite low in this showdown between Manchester United and Bayern Munich in 1999, but it’s the remarkable and unforgettable nature of this comeback that makes it arguably the greatest in European football.

The Bavarian giants had the lead after just five minutes thanks to a Mario Basler free-kick but, while they dominated the rest of the game, despite a host of great chances, the killer blow never came.

They also didn’t account for ‘Fergie Time’ either. When the TV cameras panned on the face of Lothar Matthäus in the 80th minute, the German football legend was all smiles sat on the bench, just after being substituted.

After all, he was on his way to winning the only major trophy to elude him during his illustrious career with the Bavarian giants.

However, that confidant look of expected victory soon turned to utter disbelief, once the game headed past ninety minutes and into stoppage time.

About the Author

The 888sport blog, based at 888 Towers in the heart of London, employs an army of betting and tipping experts for your daily punting pleasure, as well as an irreverent, and occasionally opinionated, look at the absolute madness that is the world of sport.

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