Football and comebacks have been synonymous. Like a Quentin Tarantino movie is incomplete without a little drama and bloodshed at the end, a game of football seems to lack that thrilling edge without a comeback. The phenomena – championed by hard work, perseverance and sheer luck – makes one team part of folklore and leaves the other in pain.
Here are the top 5 comebacks in the history of the game.
The Matthews Final
70 minutes into the game, Bolton Wanderers were leading 3-1 in the 1953 FA Cup final. Outside right Stanley Mathews decided to take matters in his own hands, guiding Blackpool to victory, completing toppling the so-far dominant Bolton team. Blackpool’s Stan Mortensen became the third hat-trick scorer in finals of FA Cup (after 1890 and 1894).
Blackpool had lost the final in 1948 and 1951, and were third time lucky. Having equalized the game with one minute of regulation time left, they did not wait for extra time and scored in added time to emerge winners.
Metz stuns Barcelona
Metz midfielder Jean-Phillipe Rohr said after the first leg that Barcelona had won 4-2, “I had rarely felt an opponent as superior as was the case in that first leg. God knows that we had a good team, but there were two classes between us, especially in terms of strength and technique.” But some stories are written in heaven – and this one was, just for Metz.
The entire country of France had given up, and didn’t even bother televising the return leg in Spain’s Nou Camp. Bookmakers gave up to 100 to 1 on a Metz win. Metz conceded first in the 33rd minute, further denting hopes of the Messins. The first half had ended 1-2 with the visitors scoring twice out of nowhere. Metz responded with unimaginable resilience in the second half and scored twice to win the tie 6-5. This is the greatest ever comeback staged by a French club.
A young Adrien Rabiot was on fire, and Angel Di Maria had worn his scoring boots as Barcelona lost 4-0 in a forgettable Round of 16 first leg. The famed MSN could do nothing – such was the dominance of the French side. No team had enough made a comeback from 4-0 down in the Champions League, and no one expected Barcelona to do it either, after a benign performance from the Spanish club.
Barcelona, however, is not a club that gives up. And it did not, on that fateful night at Nou Camp on 9th March, 2017. Two goals in the first half and four in the second defeated the four from the first leg and another from Edison Cavani in the 62nd minute of the second leg. Sergi Roberto’s diving finish is still poster for many Barca fans.
The Miracle of Bern
Comeback in any other game is heartbreaking for the losing team. Now imagine that happening in a World Cup final!
Played between West Germany and a Hungary team that featured Ferenc Puskas, Sandor Kocsis, Zoltan Czibor and Mihaly Lantos among others, the game was one-sided even before the first whistle. Hungary had not lost and international match in five years, and had defeated this West Germany side 8-3 in the group stages.
But then, not all stories go as predicted. Here, at least the beginning did. Puskas opened the scoring in the 6th minute, followed by Czibor in the 8th. Hungary were showing signs of running away with the trophy already, but it wasn’t to be. Max Morlock’s 10th minute goal against the tide of play put the entire stadium in a state of silence and Helmut Rahn’s 18th minute netting brought gloom on most faces.
Rahn doubled his number in the 84th minute, giving little time to Hungary to make a comeback. This victory gave West Germany a sense of regained international recognition after the lost Second World War and denazification.
Fergie Time in 1999
Don’t tell us you don’t know about this one! And if you know about this one, you know about Fergie Time as well!
1-0 in the 6th minute – Bayern Munich had practically won the game. Manchester United were practically playing without a midfield – both Paul Scholes and Roy Keane were out due to suspensions. Regulation time ended, and United were still trailing.
And then, it all happened in front of 90,245 people at Nou Camp on a Wednesday night. First Teddy Sheringham, and then Ole Gunner Solksjaer scored in the space of 2 minutes in added time to win the treble for Manchester United. It is arguably the best comeback in the history of football.
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