The UEFA Champions League pits the best teams across Europe against each other, including league winners, cup winners, and those who finished as the next-best in the continent’s top competitions. 

A huge part of being a successful soccer team is never knowing when to quit and always thinking that your team will score that next crucial goal. After all, it only takes a second to score a goal. 

Here are the greatest examples of those who didn’t let a seemingly insurmountable lead stand, etching them in the history books among the teams who have achieved the greatest Champions League comebacks.

Paris Saint-Germain vs FC Barcelona (2016/17)

One leg into the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League Round of 16, and Paris Saint-Germain looked to have finally laid down the kind of gauntlet that would eventually make their wealthy owners European champions. 

The star-studded line-up blazed to a 4-0 lead at Parc des Princes in the first leg, but FC Barcelona weren’t to go out with a whimper. 

Back at Camp Nou, Luis Suárez got them rolling three minutes in, but it took until a fortuitous 40th-minute own goal for the gap to be closed to a potentially manageable 4-2. 

After the break, Lionel Messi’s penalty was cancelled out 12 minutes later by Edinson Cavani, keeping it 5-3 on aggregate. 

With their backs against the wall and the illustrious Barça facing an early knockout, Neymar brought them to within one at 88 minutes and then converted his penalty three minutes later to level the score. 

At 5-5, PSG would have the upper hand by virtue of Cavani’s goal at Camp Nou, but five minutes into injury time, Roberto would send the Spanish side to the quarter-finals and cap the greatest comeback (by deficit) in UCL history. 

This was just one of a series of missed opportunities for the Qatar-backed PSG since they became a Champions League superpower, and even now, they sit out at +1000 in the soccer odds to take the crown. 

AC Milan vs Deportivo La Coruña (2003/04)

Back in the age of the silver goal extra time, AC Milan were one of European football’s powerhouses.

The reigning UEFA Champions League winners were tipped to go deep in the competition once again. 

Entering the Quarter-Finals in 2003/04, the would-be Serie A champions of that season met a consistently high-ranking Deportivo La Corunna, who’d placed in La Liga’s top three for the last three seasons after winning the title in 1999/00. 

Still, the Spanish side were minnows compared to the San Siro co-residents, and that certainly showed in the first leg. In Italy, Deportivo lost 4-1, ceding to Andriy Shevchenko, Andrea Pirlo, and a brace from Kaká. 

Essentially, AC Milan just had to go to Estadio Riazor and see out the win, but a rapid goal from Walter Pandiani just five minutes after the opening whistle set the score at a more uneasy 4-2. 

Before the half, AC Milan found themselves without a lead, level at 4-4 on aggregate after strikes from Juan Carlos Valerón and Albert Luque. 

Still, the Italian titans couldn’t find it in them to spark much by way of an attacking threat. Deportivo continued to assault Dida’s net and, at 76 minutes, substitute left midfielder Fran scored just ten minutes after coming on. 

UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals 2018/19

To decide who would compete in the UEFA Champions League Final of the 2018/19 campaign, two Premier League clubs staged incredible comebacks to defy the odds, and in very different ways. 

Following what could have been seen as an almost respectable loss as Camp Nou to FC Barcelona, Liverpool were starring down the barrels of defeat, trailing 3-0 before kick-off at Anfield. 

Both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino had to miss the game, but in their places, Sadio Mané moved to the middle, Xherdan Shaqiri went on the right, and Divock Origi occupied the left wing. 

It would be the Belgian on the left who’d give the Reds an unexpected lead just seven minutes in, but 3-1 on aggregate would be the score at the break. 

Liverpool flew out of the gates, pressuring Barcelona all over the field, which allowed central midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum to power into the box and find the back of the net not once, but twice before the hour-mark. 

To cap it all off and secure the famous win, Origi popped up once again with just over ten minutes left, denying former teammate Philippe Coutinho, Messi, Suárez, and Gerard Piqué a shot at the European crown. 

The very next day, Tottenham Hotspur travelled to Amsterdam looking to overturn a disappointing 1-0 loss at their shiny new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but those expectations were quickly brushed aside. 

Ajax came out firing, with lanky centre-back Matthijs de Ligt scoring on the five-minute mark and Hakim Ziyech seemingly putting the Dutch side into the UCL Final before half-time. 

Spurs now needed three goals – by virtue of the away goals rule – in 45 minutes to meet Liverpool at the Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid. Without Harry Kane, this looked to be an impossible task. 

Still, it didn’t take long for Lucas Moura to produce a bit of magic. At 55 minutes, he surged up the middle to slot the ball home, and at 59 minutes, the Brazilian utilized his tricky feet to score a second in a congested box. 

Spurs were gunning for the win with the Dutch side reeling, but the home side looked to have done just enough to seal a 3-2 win. Then, Moura popped up one more time, flying into the box with 96 on the clock to cap a mighty comeback. 

This season, neither Spurs nor Liverpool made it to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, but Premier League duo Manchester City and Arsenal are right in the mix at +150 and +550 in the sport betting futures, respectively. 

AC Milan vs Liverpool (2004/05)

The greatest comeback in Champions League history goes to the Miracle of Istanbul. Easily the greatest Champions League Final ever witnessed, it saw Liverpool overcome a 3-0 deficit at halftime to win on penalties.

Paolo Maldini scored just one minute into the final at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium – a common trend among these great comeback stories – but the job wasn’t made mountainous until, just before the half, Hernán Crespo popped up twice. 

Trailing by three goals on Europe’s biggest domestic soccer stage, Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez made a change to the Reds’ formation and brought on Dietmar Hamann to accommodate. 

Soon after, Steven Gerrard beat Dida, and then, so did Vladimir Šmicer. Just after those two, Xabi Alonso got himself on the score sheet, capping off a mad seven minutes to get the game 3-3 at the 61-minute mark. 

AC Milan would wake up. The Italians dominated possession and shots to the end of play, putting as much pressure as possible on Liverpool’s goalie, Jerzy Dudek. 

In the end, though, it’s be missed penalties from Serginho, Pirlo, and Shevchenko that’d seal Milan’s fate, with second-half substitute Hamann, Djibril Cissé, and goalscorer Šmicer beating Dida in the shootout. 

When two great teams meet in high-stakes games with one backed against the wall, should they get a very early goal, there might just be a legendary comeback on the way.

*Credit for all images in this article belongs to Alamy*

Ben is very much a sports nerd, being obsessed with statistical deep dives and the numbers behind the results and performances.

Top of the agenda are hockey, soccer, and boxing, but there's always time for the NFL, cricket, Formula One, and a bit of mixed martial arts.