Monday, February 7, 2011

Comeback Kids - Great Footballing Comebacks in Recent Times

Comebacks have been the talk of the footballing weekend, particularly as Newcastle United FC managed to claw their way back to draw 4 – 4 against an Arsenal side that managed to put three goals past them in under 10 minutes.

Here we look at just a few of thousands of remarkable comebacks in recent footballing memory:

1) Manchester United FC v Bayern Munich FC (2 – 1) 1999 UEFA Champions League Final

In what would go down as a memorable moment forever etched into any Manchester United fan’s memory, this enthralling final saw a resilient Manchester United trounce a rampant Bayern Munich. What made this result more remarkable was the fact that both of Manchester United’s goals came in stoppage time.

After Mario Basler put the Germans ahead in the 6th minute of play, Bayern Munich looked almost definite to hold up the UEFA Champions League trophy that is until England striker Teddy Sherringham had his say. Coming off the bench in the 67th minute, the English marksman levelled the game in the first minute stoppage time before another substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjær won the game for the Red Devils in the third minute of stoppage time, poking the ball in the top of the net.

By Manchester United winning, this cemented their place in footballing echelons by completing an unprecedented treble (EPL, FA Cup and Champions League) and the players of this legendary team (despite having lost their captain Roy Keane and Paul Scholes due to suspension) have forever etched their names in footballing history.

2) Central Coast Mariners FC V Sydney FC (5 – 2) 22nd Dec, 2007 (Round 15)

Labelled as the greatest game in the A-League’s short history, a rescheduled game at the Bluetounge Stadium saw these two teams contest the South NSW Derby but with entertaining results. In a very fluid and attacking game, Central Coast keeper Danny Vukovic was given his marching orders in the 16rd minute as he was to have judged to handle the ball outside his box, but this didn’t stun the boys from the coast. The Mariners had taken the lead in the 3rd and 15th minute thanks to goals from Mile Jedinak and John Aloisi respectively.

The Sky Blues then bounced back thanks to goals from popular defender Ian Fyfe in the 33rd minute before Northern Irishman Terry McFlynn levelled the scores at the 49th minute. In what is possibly the most exciting second half in the A-League’s history, Greg Owens for the Mariners restored parity in the 63rd minute (courtesy of a penalty). This did little to dampen the Sky Blues attacking prowress as youngster Adam Biddle nutmeged defender Dean Heffernen and put Sydney FC ahead in the 71st minute. Before Sydney fans had a chance to catch their breathes back, they were treated to a moment of true class as Brendon Santalab stunned the masses with a fantastic spin-come-strike from just inside the box to thunder Sydney further into the lead. A terrific goal was made better by the fact that this was his first A-League goal for Sydney FC.

In a tense final ten minutes, Adam Kwasnik levelled the scores before, remarkably, Kwasnik handeled the ball in the penalty box. With Kwasnik sent off, Ufuk Talay slotted away the spot kick to send Sydney FC 5 -4 winners and put and end to was has been and since unmatched, the greatest game of the A-League so far.

3) Liverpool FC v West Ham United (3 – 3, 3 – 1 penalties) 2006 FA Cup Final

What is it about a cup final that produces some of the greatest comebacks?

Going down in the 21st minute thanks to a Jamie Carragher own goal, West Ham were sent further ahead when Dean Ashton in the 28nd minute tucked in a loose ball from a West Ham’s Matthew Etherington shot, which Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina failed to hold on to properly.

Liverpool managed to peg one back thanks to French international Djibril Cissé’s goal in the 32nd minute. West Ham had the lead going into the second half before the Gerrard show kicked in. A Peter Crouch knock down is volleyed in by the Liverpool captain in the 54th minute, levelling the scores at 2 – 2. Paul Konchesky’s goal in the 63rd minute had the Hammers thinking they had done enough to win the FA Cup but a thunderous Steven Gerrard 30 yard strike into the back of the net levelled the score on the 90th minute, leaving Hammers keeper Shaka Hislop doing nothing more than pick the ball out.

Extra-time passed without much incident which led the game into penalties. With three misses from Zamora, Konchesky and Ferdinand for the Hammers (only Sherrigham managed to put one in), Liverpool were handed the 2006 FA Cup when John Arne Riise stepped up and slotted the ball in the back of the net.

This game was truly one of the greatest FA Cup finals to be had and it was truly the Steven Gerrard show for all to see.

4) Arsenal FC V Tottenham Hotspurs FC (4 – 4) 28th Oct, 2008 (English Premier League)

Tottenham scored twice in the dying minutes of the game to level with their London arch-rivals in an enthralling game of skill, entertainment and football.

After David Bently had put the Spurs ahead on the 13th minute, the Gunners fought back and scored and seemingly had the game wrapped up with thanks to goals from Mikael Silvestre (37), William Gallas (46), and Emmanuel Adebayor (64). Even though Spurs managed to get one back in the 67th minute with a Darren Bent goal, Arsenal responded immediately with a goal from Robin van Persie in the 68th minute of the game.

For any fan that left with five minutes to go, they sure are kicking themselves now. In a display of utter skill and scenes that you can only imagine, Tottenham managed to score when a Luka Modric rocket hit the woodwork with Jermaine Jenas there to put in the rebound in the 89th minute, making the ledger at 4 – 3. With Arsenal shelshocked, the damage wasn’t over as Aaron Lennon sent the white half of the Emarites Stadium into raptures when in the 90th minute managed to level the scores from just outside the box.

So the game ended 4 – 4, a highly attacking display from both sides that saw the Gunners capitulate their lead into a 4 – 4 draw. Scenes like this against Arsenal weren’t repeated until an understrength Newcastle United FC managed to come back from 4 – 0 down in the first half to draw 4 – 4 in the dying stages of the game in 2011.

By Marcel Abboud