Great Sporting Comebacks

Written by Andy

 

Welcome again sports fans and today we are going to talk about the Greatest Sporting Comebacks of all time!

Yes you could well say this blog was inspired by a certain master-class at the weekend and we might just speak about that great achievement in a little bit so stay tuned!

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2005 Champions League Final,Milan v Liverpool

AC Milan, the reigning Italian champions, raced out of the blocks in the 2005 Champions League final V Liverpool, establishing a comfortable 3-0 lead by half time. Liverpool were in the midst of a dismal domestic season – they would finish fifth in the Premier League – and their fans deserted the stadium in droves. Liverpool pulled one back shortly after the break through Steven Gerrard, while further goals from Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso – as well as an extraordinary save from Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek – saw them to penalties where they won the biggest club game in the world.  From nowhere against all the odds.

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Newcastle v Arsenal, English Premier League 2011

A quite stunning game of football and great advert for the game. Arsenal were running riot in the first half with goals from Walcott (1 min), Djourou (3 mins), Van Persie (10,26 mins) to put them incredibly 4-0 up at St James Park going into half time. The Toon Army were shocked and needed a break and fast. That break came on the 68th minute when Joey Barton scored the first of two penalties he would score. On 75 minutes Leon Best would make it 2-4 giving them small hope. Barton’s 83rd minute penalty made it 3-4 and the comeback was well on by this stage. Then just 4 minutes later Cheick Tiote who wasn’t renowned for scoring goals would smash a long range volley into the net and equalise and make it 4-4 sending the Geordie’s into pure euphoria.

 

 Muhammad Ali v George Foreman, Rumble in the Jungle 1974

The pictures above give you a small idea of what happened in this fight if you haven’t seen it. Ali as great as he was hit the age of 32 and didn’t possess the amazing speed he once had and was up against hard hitting George Foreman who was 40-0 (37 KO’s) at the time.  Foreman dominated the fight and had Ali pinned against the ropes for the vast majority of the fight…right until the 6th round when Foreman looked very tired at this point and was knocked out by the great man Ali. Ali would later say that was the game plan and the famous rope-a-dope phrase was coined. A piece of tactical genius by Ali and outsmarted his younger and stronger opponent in one of the most famous boxing matches of all time.

 

Nick Faldo and Greg Norman, The Masters 1996

The Great White Shark Greg Norman had finished his 3rd round an incredible 6 shot lead and was playing some amazing golf and The Masters was his prey in 1996 at Augusta. Nick Faldo of England was the man in pursuit and played a very sensible and solid round that day. Disaster struck for Norman on the 12th hole as he hit his ball in the water hazard to drop crucial shots. At that point Norman was a beaten man and this wasn’t the first time he had lost composure on the final day of a major. Faldo eventually overtook Norman and would win the famous Green Jacket for a third time and produce a marvellous comeback.

  

Bayern Munich v Manchester United, Champions League Final 1999

One of the greatest footballing comebacks I’ve ever seen along with the two mentioned on this blog already. United were looking down and out after Bayern Munich took an early lead through Mario Basler. United did respond well but with Scholes and Keane missing and Bayern looking very well organised it looked a tall order for United. That was until one of the most amazing few minutes you will ever witness on a football field. This particular field happened to be the Camp Nou home of Barcelona where many greats had plied their trade and seen many great moments. Sir Alex had brought Teddy Sherringham & Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at various points in the game and they were to prove vital. 91 minutes on the clock and Beckham swung the corner in only to be cleared straight to Giggs who fired a ball at goal which was diverted into the net by Sherringham and United were level. With Bayern clearly ratted United somehow won another corner 30 seconds later. Beckham again delivering right onto the head of Sherringham who’s header was blasted high into the net by Solskjaer and United would win the Champions League in the most amazing fashion.

 

James Wade v Scott Waites, Grand Slam of Darts Final 201o

I’ve seen a lot of epic darts matches in my time watching the sport but few can rival the pure brilliance of this one. The Grand Slam of Darts pits all players from the BDO & PDC and is like a group stage format with 4 players in each group, You could say its the Champions League of Darts. Hot favourite James Wade had stormed into an 8-0 lead in the final over Scott Waites and was playing lovely darts with an impressive 3 dart average and check out score. Incredibly Waites would start the mother of all comebacks and go on to beat Wade 16-12 to win the trophy. What’s even more amazing about this victory is that Waites was destroyed 16-2 only 12 months before in the final of this competition by the great Phil Taylor so to have the determination and desire to not only get back into the match but to win it was sporting genius at its very highest. It was amazing to watch it really was.

 

AC Milan v Deportivo La Coruna, Champions League Quarter Final 2004

I used to love this Deportivo team in the 90’s and 00’s as they had some super players and would produce quality displays but none were as amazing as the one they pulled off against Milan. The first leg in the San Siro was a big win for the home side Milan by 4-1 and Deportivo looked down and out despite being a strong side at their home ground Riazor Stadium. Deportivo made the dream start after only 5 mins when leading marksman Walter Pandiani put them ahead. Milan would come right back at the Spanish side but Deportivo were a very clever team on the break and would sucker punch Milan with goals from Albert Luque and the amazing Juan Carlos Valeron (pictured above left). So half time came and it was 4-4 amazingly Deportivo were going through on away goals at this stage and despite the strong showing from Milan in the second half where they dominated they couldn’t get that vital goal. Substitute Fran would then scored the goal that took Deportivo through to the semi final 5-4 on aggregate and complete an amazing comeback against one of the very best sides on the planet.

 

Stephen Hendry v Jimmy White, World Snooker Championship 1992

I quite rightly named Stephen Hendry as a Sporting God in my previous blog and this particular match was one of the many reasons he got in that blog. I was torn as I was a huge fan of both these players at the time. Jimmy White aka ‘The Whirlwind’ was a legend but never did win the big one and was often a losing finalist. But he was looking to change that in this one and went roaring ahead 14-8 and only required another 4 for the win. Hendry, with nothing to lose, just went for it all guns blazing, and was lucky not to go 15-9 down at one point. He returned for the evening session with a bang, immediately clinching a key black ball frame, then banging in break after break – including three centuries -reeling off 10 straight frames to win 18-14 for one of the great Snooker comebacks of all time.

 

Gillingham v Manchester City, Football League Second Division Play-Off Final 1999

Now I’m willing to bet there will be people reading this that may not have ever seen this match or had forgotten about it giving Manchester City’s new status of money,championship,European football and superstar players. But there was a time City struggled big time and this was them in the Second Division Play-Off final (equivalent to League 1 these days) against the mighty Gillingham. This is one of my favourite sporting comebacks and I remember this game with fondness. It was a very wet day at Wembley and Gillingham took a late and surprise lead through Carl Asaba after 81 minutes, Bob Taylor would then stun City and seemingly end their challenge with a second goal on 87 minutes. But City are always known for doing things the hard way and would get a break when Kevin Horlock would get what you think at the time is a consolation on the 90th minute.  City would keep at it and amazingly Paul Dickov would score the equaliser in the 95th minute and take the game to extra time. The game would then go to penalties after a very cautious and non eventful extra time which added to the late drama of the last 15 minutes in regulation time. City would win 3-1 on penalties with Horlock,Cooke & Edghill scoring and City keeper Nicky Weaver being the hero saving two penalties. Many fans of City have said this was the turning point in their success as had they lost this match who knows where they could have ended up.

   

Ryder Cup 2012 USA v Europe

Well I did hint earlier we may discuss this and here we are! This was the inspiration for this latest blog and what an amazing day it was on Sunday. 4 pm I tuned into Sky Sports and was enthralled until well into the wee hours (I apologise for all the tweets about the golf but it was tense)! Well as I blogged about in my Ryder Cup 2012 blog it was also going to be a tough ask for Europe to go over to America and win is always tough. The partisan crown,conditions and pressure of being a Team Europe with so much expectation. After the foursomes and first few days USA were 10-6 up going into the final days singles matches and only required 5 points from the 14 on offer so Europe were up against it big time. Captain Olazabal though went for it sending out the big guns early in Donald,Poulter,McIlroy & Rose. All the matches were very tight and one bad shot could cost either nation the Cup. With Donald,Poulter and McIlroy all winning the turning point for me and changing of the tide came when Justin Rose beat Phil Mickelson in the last two holes. Phil was playing some lovely stuff and some of his short game shots were out of this world. Paul Lawrie of Scotland would then deliver an amazing performance and thrash Snedeker as Europe were on fire! Dustin and Zack Johnson would beat Colsaerts & G-Mac respectively to bring the USA right back into it and the favourites again. But crucially Sergio Garcia would beat Jim Furyk on the last hole to give Europe a vital point and swung it back in our direction. But Dufner of USA would then beat Hanson and yes you guessed it the pendulum was back into the US domain! But this is where I predicted a few days before and said our experience will just nick this for us and so it did. Lee Westwood would edge out Matt Kuchar meaning there was only two matches left. Those matches were Stricker v Kaymer and Woods v Molinari. Europe only needed to half both of these matches to get the 14-14 draw that would retain the Ryder Cup. But we don’t do draws do we? we want to win! and win we did! Martin Kaymer showed the ‘German Efficiency’ and would beat Stricker on the last hole to get Europe home and retain the Ryder Cup in amazing fashion!

One of the greatest ever sporting comebacks? I think it is to be honest! I have never experienced a sporting moment where things have went back and forth back and forth so many times.

Well that was ten of the Great Sporting Comebacks I hope you enjoyed them and as ever feel free to add your own personal moments below or via my Twitter

Until next time

Thanks for stopping by The Sports Lab

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