The European Champions League has brought some spectacular finales over the years but none more so than two finals involving English clubs in 1999 and 2005. The 1999 Champions League final was between Manchester United and Bayern Munich whilst the 2005 final was contested between Liverpool and AC Milan. Both English clubs came back against all the odds to lift the trophy and go down in history.
1999 – Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich
Two European giants went head to head in the Nou Camp with PierluigiCollina as the referee. In front of just over 90,000 spectators, Manchester United stunningly scored two goals in injury time through two substitutes. Teddy Sheringham cancelled out Mario Basler’s 6th minute opener with a goal in the 91st minute before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored a dramatic winner to clinch the trophy.
2005 – AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (Liverpool win 3-2 on penalties)
What was hailed as one of the greatest ever AC Milan sides featuring the likes of Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Kaka and Andriy Shevchenko, Liverpool somehow came back from a 3-0 deficit at half time to take the game to penalties where Jerzy Dudek saved Shevchenko’s penalty to mark an astonishing comeback. Goals from Vladimir Smicer, Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso forced the game into extra time and eventually penalties where they won 3-2.
Two games that will be remembered as the greatest comebacks of all time and both in favour of the two English sides that enjoy a prestigious rivalry. Fans of both sides will no doubt be adamant their respective final was the better comeback but what will the neutrals believe? There is no right or wrong answer but it is a fascinating debate to have.
Liverpool were 3-0 behind in no time against an AC Milan side managed by Carlo Ancelotti and were tactically one of the best sides of that era. Liverpool didn’t have a world class side at the time but the midfield trio of Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and DietmaarHamann blessed technical, mental and physical abilities. It is hard enough coming from behind to win a match let alone come back from 3 goals in a match of such significance. It did in the end come down to the lottery of the penalty shootout which despite AC Milan again being favourites to come through as victors, Jerzy Dudek saved from Shevchenko to clinch the trophy.
Sir Alex Ferguson built his teams on playing until the final whistle and they scored countless goals deep into the match due to their determination and never say die attitude. But even Sir Alex must’ve been resigned to finishing the tournament runners up with injury time approaching but the inspired substitutions of Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought two goals deep into added on time that were dramatic to say the least. Bizarrely, Bayern Munich lost in similar fashion earlier on in the tournament when they conceded two late goals (87, 89 minute) to Brondby to lose 2-1 in the group stage. It was also bitter sweet for Sheringham who conceded an 89th minute own goal at Bayern Munich when they played in the group stages.
Which was the best comeback in Champions League History?
I personally believe Liverpool’s comeback was the better victory as the odds were hugely stacked against them against a formidable AC Milan side. Let us know what you think in the comments section below for your chance to win a $50 Premier Sports Memorabilia gift voucher.