comebacks in football

Best Turnarounds in Football History

What is the Best Turnaround in a Football Match Ever?

Watching a football match can be exciting and nail-biting for fans of the sports. Every goal and action is worth watching, especially if the teams are evenly matched. Whether in the World Cup or club leagues, the game of football has seen countless matches where one team seems to be in total control throughout the match, only to fold up and succumb to a huge comeback. In this article, Crossbar looks at some of the best comebacks we’ve seen in football over the years. We shall take a look at some of the best comebacks

1. Liverpool vs AC Milan (Miracle of Istanbul)

liverpool v ac milan the miracle of istanbul
Credits: 90min

This match between Liverpool and Milan will go down as one of the best matches in football history.  Liverpool has always had a reputation for making comebacks, and its match against AC Milan during the 2005 Champions League final is another testimony to it.  Many call this the “Miracle of Istanbul” as Liverpool pulled off another one of its greatest comebacks. 

On the other side of the fence, AC Milan had football legends such as Maldini, Kaka, Shevchenko, Gattuso, and others. In the first half of that match, Liverpool gave up three quick goals, and it was pretty much game over for them. But then the unthinkable happened? The team known for making comebacks did it again. 

 In the second half of the game, Liverpool scored three goals in a span of six minutes. Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard scored on a header in the 54th minute to cut down the deficit to just two goals. Then two minutes later, Vladimir Smicer scored the team’s second goal from the box. Then in the 59th minute, Xabi Alonso took a penalty kick that was saved by AC Milan goalkeeper Dida but scored on the rebound to tie the game at three apiece. 

The game went to extra time, and both teams had several chances to take the win. The goalkeepers showed tremendous saving ability. The match went down to a penalty shootout. AC Milan’s Dida saved a penalty, and his counterpart Dudak saved two. Then Serginho’s kick hit the goal, and Liverpool won the match, completing the greatest comeback in the sport’s history. 

2. Barcelona vs PSG (La Remontada)  

barca comeback against psg
Credits: China Daily

This match during the 2017 UCL Round of 16 featured one of the most insane football turnarounds in history. In the first leg, PSG handily won, blanking Barcelona 4-0. It was a hopeless case scenario for Barcelona as they needed to score four goals in the next leg to advance to the next stage of the Champions League. Even their most loyal fans didn’t think they would make it. But as shown by Liverpool in Istanbul, anything can happen in football. 

The second leg was played at Camp Nou with Barcelona needing four goals to qualify. In the 3rd minute, Luis Suarez scored a goal. In the first half, PSG was denied what was a highly controversial penalty from a handball by Mascherano. Layvin Kurzawa of PSG  gifted Barcelona with a goal and the latter came to the second half with a two-goal lead at 2-0. 

In the second half, PSG almost scored an away goal but his kick hit the post. Then in the 50th minute, Lionel Messi converted a penalty into a goal. The miracle was on and Barcelona only needed a goal to tie the game. But in the 62nd minute, PSG’s Cavani scored on a volley and Barcelona now needed three goals to qualify. 

Just when PSG was ready to advance to the next stage, Barcelona wasn’t done yet. They scored the three goals they needed in a span of eight minutes. Neymar connected on a free kick in the 88th minute and followed it up with another goal in the 91st minute. Then in the final minute, Sergi Roberto scored the winning goal. The final score was 6-1 and 6-5 on aggregate for Barcelona. They advanced to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Barcelona pulled off a comeback in one of the best football matches of all time. 

3. Liverpool vs Barcelona 

liverpool comeback against barcelona
Credit: Sports Illustrated

The two comeback teams on our list are once again at it. Liverpool, the comeback kings, scored another miracle in their latest football match. Liverpool was up against Barcelona during the 2019 UCL semi-final. In the first of two legs, Liverpool was down 3-0 against Barcelona. They needed four goals in the second leg to advance to the finals of the Champion’s League. 

Bringing their reputation for comebacks to the second leg, Divock Origi scored the first goal they needed in the 7th minute. Barcelona had their chances but couldn’t capitalize and the first half ended with Liverpool ahead 1-0. Then Liverpool’s coach made a decisive move to substitute Andy Robertson with Georginio Wijnaldum. 

In the second half, Liverpool started to dominate Barcelona. Wijnaldum scored two goals and in just 56 minutes, Liverpool already overhauled the third goal deficit they had in the first leg. The comeback team completed another feat when Divock Origi scored his second goal for the night to make it 4-0. It was another historic comeback for the Reds and that goal by Origi allowed them to advance to the Finals. 

4. Tottenham vs Ajax 

Credits: IMDb

During the 2019 semifinal match between Tottenham and Ajax at the Johan Cruyff Arena, Tottenham placed themselves in a deep hole by conceding two goals in the 1st half of the game. Ajax scored their first goal in just the fifth minute on a header by captain De Ligt and then another goal by Hakim Ziyech on a fine assist from Tadic. 

In the second half, Tottenham’s drive for three goals was kicked off by Lucas Moura who scored two goals within 5 minutes.  Needing another goal, the Spurs were pressed to score the tying goal. Then with just a minute left in the game, Moura scored his third goal giving Tottenham the win over Ajax on aggregate. More importantly, the win sent Tottenham to an all-English UEFA Champions League final.  

5. Manchester United vs Bayern Munich 

Credits: talkSPORT

During the 1999 season of the UEFA Champions League, Bayern Munich and Manchester United met during the group stages and were once again on a collision course in the final. One interesting sidelight about the two teams is that they had a significant amount of red colors in their kits. Under league rules, only one team could wear their first kit. To determine who gets to wear their first kit in a neutral venue, they decided to toss a coin. 

In the first six minutes of the final game, Bayern Munich drew first blood courtesy of a low kick by Basler. Despite being the more dominant team, Manchester United couldn’t score a goal. Bayern Munich’’s defense was well organized and Manchester didn’t have a chance to score. 

With time not on their side, Manchester United was running out of chances. But then Teddy Sheringham scored the equalizer during stoppage time. Then with a minute left in the game with the possibility of extra time on the horizon, David Beckham took the corner and Solskjaer put the ball in the net for a 2-1 victory. 

Manchester United pulled off the comeback and they needed their two substitutes—Sheringham and Norwegian Solskjaer—to deliver the win. It was proof that in the game of football you shouldn’t give up until the referee blows the last whistle. 


These are just five of the greatest comebacks in football. As the most popular sports in terms of audience, games like these only bring excitement to fans who have endeared themselves to the sport. 

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