The 2018-19 edition of the Champions League was all about the comeback. Stirring results like Manchester United’s Round of 16 defeat of Paris St. Germain and Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur’s semi-final comebacks against Barcelona and Ajax respectively were amongst the most mind-boggling events in Champions League history.
The 2019-20 Champions League hasn’t seen quite so many wild comebacks as its predecessor, but there have certainly been some dramatic matches, with results that were at some point in the game seemingly unthinkable.
One of the best comebacks in the 2019-20 Champions League came in the competition’s final match before COVID-19 forced its suspension in March.
Atletico Madrid were no strangers to a Champions League comeback, having come from 0-2 down to draw with Juventus 2-2 in the group stage. But this dramatic result against holders Liverpool was even better.
Diego Simeone’s side defeated the Reds 1-0 in the first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano. But many fans felt that a Liverpool win at Anfield to turn the deficit around would be academic. And sure enough, when Georginio Wijnaldum put the holders 1-0 up on the brink of half-time, it seemed like another Liverpool Champions League comeback was on.
Somehow though – largely due to the heroics of goalkeeper Jan Oblak – Jurgen Klopp’s side were unable to find the killer goal. When an apparent equaliser from Atletico was chalked off for a clear offside, the tie tipped over into extra time.
Just four minutes into the added period, it seemed like business as usual. A cross from Wijnaldum was met by Roberto Firmino. And when his header hit the post, the Brazilian quickly prodded the rebound in and appeared to have sent Liverpool to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Somehow though, just two minutes later, an Atletico comeback was on. A poor kick from Liverpool keeper Adrian went straight to Marcos Llorente, who fired home from distance. Suddenly, with the away goals rule against them, it was Liverpool who needed to turn things around.
Incredibly, it simply wasn’t to be. An attack from the Reds failed, leading directly to a break from Atletico that saw Llorente score again. From there, the tie looked beyond Liverpool. And Atletico even had time to complete their comeback on the night by adding a winner through former Chelsea man Alvaro Morata.
From the brink of victory, the Champions League holders had been dumped out of the tournament by one of the best comebacks in some time from Simeone’s men. All this despite having 71% possession and taking 34 shots on goal.
One of the most dramatic comebacks of the Champions League group stage came in Group G. German side RB Leipzig overturned a two-goal deficit to claim a draw, qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition for the first time.
Leipzig knew they only needed a point to make the Round of 16. But early in the match, it wasn’t looking good. Benfica – who needed to win to give themselves a chance of escaping the group – took the lead in the 20th minute when Pizzi slotted home from close range.
Leipzig poured on the pressure to hunt for an equaliser, but luck didn’t seem to be on their side. A blatant foul in the box on Christopher Nkunku went ignored by the referee, denying Julian Nagelsmann’s side a first-half penalty.
And things went from bad to worse early in the second half, when Lukas Klostermann’s slip allowed Carlos Vinicius a clear run on goal. The Brazilian made no error by easily firing past keeper Peter Gulacsi – who was later substituted due to an injury.
But Leipzig never gave up hope despite the odds and continued to dominate the match. By the 90th minute, they’d had over 20 shots on goal. They were dramatically handed a lifeline when Ruben Dias’ tug on Patrick Schick gave them a penalty.
Emil Forsberg scored from the spot, but it felt like little more than a consolation. That was until five minutes into added time when one final attack led to a cross from Timo Werner. The cross found its way to Forsberg, who headed in to send Nagelsmann’s side into the knockout stages of the Champions League in the most stunning way possible.
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