By News Team
5th May 2020
The Champions League has witnessed some absolute crackers when it comes to semi-final ties down the years.
Here is our run through of some of the best.
Barcelona vs Chelsea, 2012
Infamous for one of the most memorable bits of commentary the competition has ever seen, Chelsea’s last gasp victory at the Nou Camp will go down as a semi-final for the ages.
Having won the first leg at Stamford Bridge 1-0, Roberto Di Matteo’s side looked certain to be knocked out when goals from Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta gave Barcelona the advantage in the second leg. To make matters worse for the visitors, John Terry was sent off for a foul on Alexis Sanchez and things looked bleak.
However, with an exit seemingly certain, the beleaguered Blues pulled themselves off the canvas in the most memorable of ways.
An exquisite Ramires chip put them ahead on away goals, and after Lionel Messi hit the woodwork with a penalty, a long ball upfield found its way to substitute Fernando Torres, who raced clear of the home defence, rounded Victor Valdes and sent commentator Gary Neville into pandemonium.
The goal saw Chelsea into the final and a few months later they won their first European Cup.
Liverpool vs Chelsea, 2005
“It’s very strange. It was a goal from the moon or the Anfield Road stand, I don’t know where.” A pretty scathing review from the then-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho after his side were knocked out after one of the most talked-about goals in Champions League history.
On paper this was a total mismatch. You had a thrown-together Liverpool side who had ridden their luck to make it to the semi-finals, while Chelsea were the runaway Premier League leaders and were riding the crest of a wave. Perhaps crucially, Liverpool held firm in the first leg at Stamford Bridge and would have been more than happy with the 0-0 scoreline ahead of the second leg at Anfield.
The key moment didn’t take long to arrive – just four minutes in as Milan Baros was bundled over by Petr Cech, the ball bounced towards the goal where Luis Garcia poked home to the joy of the Anfield faithful. As Garcia wheeled away in celebration, the Chelsea players surrounded the referee as they believed William Gallas had hooked the ball away before it had crossed the line.
However, without the use of goal-line technology, the decision stood and the infamous ‘ghost goal’ saw Liverpool through to the final in Istanbul. And the rest is history.
Ajax vs Tottenham, 2019
This one is arguably the best night in Tottenham’s history and one of the great European comebacks.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg and without talisman Harry Kane through injury, Spurs looked down and out after first-half goals in the second leg from Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech saw the Dutch side open up a 3-0 aggregate lead. Even the most optimistic of travelling Spurs fans surely had lost hope until Lucas Moura stole the show with three second-half goals, including a 96th minute winner.
Two Moura goals before the hour mark left Spurs with 30 minutes to find a goal that would take them through on away goals. Numerous efforts threatened including a Jan Vertonghen header which clattered the woodwork, but try as they might the third goal just wouldn’t come.
However, with virtually the last kick off the enthralling encounter, Moura’s left-foot strike beat Ajax keeper Andre Onana, sending the Spurs fans, players and backroom staff into raptures.
Liverpool vs Barcelona, 2019
Perhaps what was so amazing about that Tottenham victory was the fact it came just 24 hours after Liverpool’s comeback for the ages against Barcelona.
Yes, Anfield had already seen some of the most memorable nights in European history and if there was ever a place for a comeback it was probably there, but this was as steep a mountain as there was.
The Reds looked down and out after a comprehensive 3-0 loss in the first leg and with the likes of Messi as well as the returning Reds duo of Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho in their side, Barcelona were about as strong as they could be.
A fast start was needed and Jurgen Klopp’s side got it with a seventh-minute goal from Divock Origi, but it was only after substitute Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice in the space of 122 seconds midway through the second half that the tie truly swung in Liverpool’s favour. Messi and co. were visibly rattled and the seemingly unthinkable was complete on 79 minutes when quick thinking from Trent Alexander-Arnold at a corner left Origi free and he slotted home neatly.
Liverpool have managed a number of famous European fightbacks before, notably in the 2005 final against AC Milan, but this was arguably the most memorable in their history.