Europe’s biggest second-leg comebacks

Only five teams have overturned a four-goal first-leg deficit to win a UEFA club competition tie: UEFA.com celebrates the comeback kings.

Dinamo Minsk 4-0 Zenit
Zenit 8-1aet Dinamo Minsk
2018/19 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round

Former Zenit midfielder Sergei Semak’s first European game as the club’s permanent coach was an unmitigated disaster as his side were trounced in Belarus, but the return was an improbable triumph. The hosts dragged the game into extra time – despite having a man sent off when they were 2-0 up – and reacted to Dinamo scoring an away goal by hitting four more of their own. “We put ourselves in that situation but got out of it ourselves too,” Semak said. “It made the victory all the sweeter.”

Paris 4-0 Barcelona
Barcelona 6-1 Paris

2016/17 UEFA Champions League round of 16

Watch Barcelona's historic comeback

Watch Barcelona’s historic comeback

Barcelona became the first – and, to date, only – side to overturn a four-goal deficit in Europe’s top club competition. Paris’s demolition of Luis Enrique’s side in France was a shock; the comeback something out of this world, Sergi Roberto striking in added-time to win the tie. “I told him: ‘Get into the box! You’re going to score!” Neymar recalled. Sergi Roberto added: “I didn’t know if I was dreaming … I have never known cheers like that.”

Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-1 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 4-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

1985/86 UEFA Cup third round

Real Madrid went on to win the 1985/86 UEFA Cup

Real Madrid went on to win the 1985/86 UEFA Cup©Getty Images

Madrid took a first-leg pounding from Jupp Heynckes’ side, but Jorge Valdano struck twice within the first 17 minutes of the second leg to put Luis Molowny’s charges in the hunt. Santillana added two more late on to complete a phenomenal comeback, his side going on to beat Köln in the final. Forward Juanito said: “I’ve been a Spanish international; I’ve played at two World Cups, I’ve won titles with Madrid, but this comeback tops the lot. It’s the happiest day of my life.”

Queens Park Rangers 6-2 Partizan
Partizan 4-0 Queens Park Rangers
1984/85 UEFA Cup second round

Simon Stainrod in action for QPR against Partizan

Simon Stainrod in action for QPR against Partizan©Getty Images

Trounced at Arsenal’s Highbury home, where QPR played their European games that season, Partizan looked to be finished ahead of the second leg against Alan Mullery’s side, but goals from Dragan Mance, Dragan Kaličanin, Miodrag Ješić and Zvonko Živković upended the tie. “We got battered on the night,” recalled QPR midfielder Gary Waddock. “We prepared properly, but the result shows you what can happen if you get off to a bad start the return leg in European football.”

La Chaux-de-Fonds 6-2 Leixões SC
Leixões SC 5-0 La Chaux-de-Fonds
1961/62 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup first round

Leixões are best remembered for a 2-0 victory against near neighbours Porto in the 1961 Portuguese Cup final, with that result earning them a European Cup Winners’ Cup place. Their continental debut saw Filipo Nuñez’s side crushed 6-2 at La Chaux-de-Fonds, but the Swiss side buckled at the Estádio do Mar. Osvaldo Silva made it 2-0 before the break, with Oliveirinha – twice a scorer in the first leg – hitting two more either side of a Vandinho effort.

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